Scenarios of cloning MBR to GPT disk
"I want to know whether I can clone my MBR disk (with Windows 10 Pro) onto a GPT disk, to allow me to use its entire 4 TB."
"My main OS partition is currently MBR atm, I want to clone it to new nvme drive that will be made with GPT partition for full uefi compatibility. Or if I clone will it automatically change back to MBR if I formated that nvme to GPT?"
MBR and GPT are two different ways to save the partitioning information on a disk. And from the above examples, it is easy to see that many users want to clone MBR to GPT disks for some exclusive advantages.
On the other hand, large HDDs & SSDs today are often initialized as GPT disks by default to make full use of disk space. And rather than reinstalling, some users may want to migrate the OS and apps directly from old MBR disk.
Whichever case you are in, the difficulty in cloning MBR to GPT is mainly caused by their differences. You can refer to the following information.
- Master Boot Record (MBR) uses standard BIOS while GUID Partition Table (GPT) uses UEFI. So you must make sure your computer supports UEFI boot before you clone MBR to GPT disk.
- MBR disks have a 2 TB maximum disk size limit, which means it does not support disks with more than 2 TB disk space. Meanwhile, GPT doesn’t have such limits.
- GPT disk can create 128 primary partitions at most while MBR only supports 4 primary partitions or 3 primary partitions and 1 extended partition.
- MBR disks support both 32-bit and 64-bit system, but only 64-bit version of Windows or Server versions can be installed on a GPT disk. On 32-bit system, GPT disks can be used as data drives.
Can you clone MBR to GPT in Windows 11/10/8/7 directly
Given these differences, many users have been blocked in their attempts to migrate old MBR disk to a GPT disk. At this stage, the most common solution seems to be partition style conversion - you need to convert GPT to MBR leaving disk space beyond 2TB unusable. And since the conversion requires you to delete all existing volumes, you can obviously not convert the source MBR disk to GPT.
Therefore, you may wonder whether it is possible to clone MBR to GPT directly. This not only allows you to enjoy the benefits of GPT, but also eliminates the hassle of reinstallation or conversion. Two birds with one stone.
Fortunately, the answer is YES, but only if you use reliable cloning tools.
Powerful software to clone from MBR to GPT and vice versa
AOMEI Backupper Professional is an example that supports both MBR and GPT disks in Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7. It enables you to clone MBR to GPT or vice versa without converting, and if your target disk is blank (shown as unallocated space), it also gives you option to overwrite the partition style of the source drive to the target.
Not only the partition style, it is also smart in terms of disk size. In default mode, it copies only used data and makes it possible to clone larger drive to smaller drive. If your GPT disk is larger, it also enables you to copy every bit of data sector-by-sector, or edit partition size to make full use of disk space.
Here's a tutorial to show you how it works.
Steps to clone hard drive from MBR to GPT
Before you do, make sure your system is 64-bit and your computer supports UEFI boot mode. To clone MBR disk to GPT with AOMEI Backupper, you can use either System Clone (clone only OS from MBR disk to GPT disk) or Disk Clone (clone entire MBR disk to GPT). Let’s take Disk Clone as an example here:
- Click the button below to download and install the cloning software.
- Connect or install the target GPT disk to your PC in advance and make sure it can be detected.
- The cloning process will overwrite the target disk. Make sure there's no important data on it, otherwise please backup files before cloning.
1. Launch AOMEI Backupper, choose Disk Clone under Clone tab.
2. In the screen, select the MBR disk as the source disk and click Next.
3. Select GPT disk or SSD as the destination disk and click Next.
4. If you are cloning MBR HDD to GPT SSD, tick SSD Alignment to accelerate the read/write speed of the target SSD. Then, click Start Clone to execute it. The cloning process will run in the background and won’t affect your work with the computer.
- Before you can boot from this GPT disk, you need to boot into BIOS and change legacy to UEFI boot mode. Otherwise, you will encounter the problem - clone MBR to GPT won't boot, due to the wrong boot mode.
- You can also use this software to backup MBR disk and restore MBR system image to GPT disk. This can also be used for the purpose of replacing MBR disk with GPT disk.
- If you want to get the best performance of a cloned drive, it's wise to clone MBR HDD to GPT SSD and then use the original HDD as a secondary storage device.
For more intuitive guide, please check the following video.
Cloned hard drive won’t boot – how to fix
Many users report that they cannot boot from computer with the cloned hard drive. Don’t worried about. See below and try to fix it.
1. Change boot mode from BIOS to UEFI. Cloning MBR system disk to GPT, you need to boot into BIOS and change legacy to UEFI boot mode after cloning and then boot from GPT disk. This is the simplest way.
2. Try startup repair from Windows Recovery Environment. You can boot from the installation disc and go to repair your computer > Troubleshoot -> Advanced Options -> Automatic Repair (for Windows 8/8.1/10). If you are using Windows 7, you can navigate to Repair your computer, select the operating system and then click Startup repair.
3. Try bootrec.exe command line with installation disc. You can press “Shift + F10” to open command line and then type the following commands and hit Enter after each.
To sum up
Cloning MBR to GPT disk can be much easier than converting GPT disk to MBR and cleaning install the operating system on the GPT disk. Then, what you need is a reliable and powerful disk cloning software, which can clone disk from MBR to GPT without converting disk and ensure secure boot.
I recommend you AOMEI Backuppper Professional. It can do more than you image. Beside cloning disk, system clone and partition clone also support. More so, it’s still a backup and restore software. You can use it to backup system, backup partition, backup files and disk.
Download AOMEI Backupper Professional and give it a shot. If you are using server, you can try AOMEI Backupper Server. It’s designed for server-based operating system, including Windows Server 2008/2012/2016 and its R2 version.