Are you trying to install Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 on your computer and getting an error “Windows cannot be installed to this hard disk space. The partition contains one or more dynamic volumes that are not supported for installation”?
There may be a different variation on this error as “Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk is of GPT style”. These errors are related to the disk partition style.
It is not necessary that you will get the exact same error but the error may vary that will cause the disk partition to be greyed out. The error also maybe ” The selected disk has an MBR partition table. On EFI system, Windows can only be installed to GPT disks.”
In this article, you will find the reason behind all these disk errors and foolproof solutions with detailed explanations.
Why Error “Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk is of GPT style” Occurs
This error occurs when you try to install windows on a system having mismatching boot mode and partition style of your hard disk or SSD. Windows installation depends on the boot process of the motherboard and partition style of the hard disk.
There are two different types of motherboard firmware, BIOS and UEFI.
And the boot processes used by these firmware are –
- Legacy boot (Legacy BIOS)- The boot process used by “BIOS” firmware of motherboard.
- UEFI – The boot process used by “UEFI” firmware.
Before we dig into the error and fix, you need to understand some basics about BIOS, UEFI, MBR, and GPT. Once you have an idea of how the system works then you can easily fix any error related to boot process and hard disk partition style.
What Is BIOS
BIOS – Stands for Basic Input/Output System, it is a firmware embedded in the chip of motherboard. BIOS is a pre-installed firmware on the computer’s motherboard.
You can not change this firmware and it is a non-volatile memory that does not disappear when your computer turns off. When you turn ON your computer BIOS loads the first and initialize the computer hardware to make sure they are working properly.
After that, it loads the boot loader to initialize the Windows or other operating systems.
BIOS is older firmware running from decades which employs only 1 MB of space and must run in 16-bit processor mode. If you have more hardware connected to your computer it will take time to initialize them.
Hence, the BIOS-based system tends to be slower while booting up or when shutting off.
What Is UEFI
UEFI – Stands for Unified Extensible Firmware Interface is a newer firmware that has many new features and advantages over BIOS. The UEFI has the same job to initialize the hardware components and load the operating system.
But UEFI stores all the information about hardware initialization and startup in a .efi file. This file is stored on a partition called EFI System Partition (ESP). ESP also contains the boot loader program for the operating system.
Due to this UEFI can directly boot the operating system, unlike self-test by BIOS. Hence it makes the boot process faster resulting in a faster computer.
BIOS vs UEFI
Both are the firmware but there are some major differences between BIOS and UEFI.
1. UEFI supports more than 2 TB of hard disk while BIOS supports up to 2 TB.
2. BIOS supports a maximum 4 hard disk partition while UEFI supports more than 4 disk partition.
3. Computers with UEFI firmware has faster booting than BIOS.
4. UEFI offers secure boot which validates the operating system to ensure there is no temper with the boot process by any malware.
5. UEFI supports the network functioning in the firmware which helps in remote troubleshooting.
6. Unlike BIOS, UEFI offers a simple graphical user interface where you can navigate using the mouse.
UEFI is the successor of BIOS which inherited properties of BIOS. The modern computers use UEFI firmware and if you try to use an old hard drive with UEFI, it won’t work.
To use UEFI firmware, the hardware is disk drive must support UEFI. And your system disk needs to be GPT style.
GPT & MBR Disk Structures
Microsoft Windows uses two partition structures to read data from your hard disk.
- MBR – Master Boot Record
- GPT – GUID Partition Table
MBR Partition Style
The MBR is an old partition style on Windows-based systems, it was introduced in 1983 with IBM PC DOS 2.0. MBR is known as Master Boot Record since MBR is a special boot sector located at the beginning of the disk.
This sector contains a boot loader for the installed operating system.
MBR partition structure is traditional which supports hard disk up to 2 TB size. And you can create only 4 logical partitions of the hard disk.
GPT Partition Style
The GPT is the newer standard for disk partitioning. GPT replaces the old MBR partitioning system with modern tech. This tech is called GUID or “Globally Unique Identifier”.
Every partition on the disk has a globally unique identifier. GUID is a random string that is so long that every GPT partition on planet likey to have their own unique identifier.
GPT supports larger than 2 TB hard drives with an unlimited number of partitions. The size and partition limits depend on the operating system and its file system.
Reason Behind GPT MBR Disk Errors
Now you have a fair idea about BIOS, UEFI, GPT, and MBR, it will be easy to understand such disk errors.
Your computer will boot in one of these two modes BIOS or UEFI.
If your computer firmware is BIOS-based then you need to install Windows on an MBR disk. The same way if your computer is UEFI based then you have to install Windows on a GPT disk.
Hence, BIOS is incompatible with GPT disk, and if you are trying to install Windows on a computer having BIOS firmware you will get the error “Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk is of GPT style”
Similarly, if you try to install Windows on an MBR disk on a UEFI based computer you will get an error ” Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk has an MBR partition table. On EFI systems, Windows can only be installed to GPT disks”
How To Fix ” Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk is of GPT style”
You have some options to fix this error. If you want to install Windows then you need to convert GPT to MBR disk to fit on BIOS-based computers. OR boot into UEFI to fit the GPT disk. But it is not necessary that your computer would have UEFI if it is an older computer.
Option 1 – Change Hard Disk From GPT to MBR
If you are getting the error “Selected disk is of GPT style” that means your computer has booted into Legacy BIOS mode that needs an MBR disk. Now you need to convert GPT to MBR disk to match the compatibility.
Since you are already trying to install Windows that means you have the bootable media available that can be a flash drive or DVD.
1. Turn off your computer.
2. Boot your computer using installation media.
3. At the Windows Setup Screen press “Shift+F10” keys together to open the command prompt.
The command prompt would look like the below image.
4. Type “diskpart” into the command prompt and hit enter. It will go into disk partition mode.
5. Type in “list disk” and hit enter and it will show you the hard disks connected to your computer.
In the above image, the computer has only 1 disk which is showing as “Disk 0“. You will get the same if there is only one hard disk in your computer.
(Do you see the * under “Dyn” which means the selected disk is dynamic. If the * is under “Gpt” then the disk is GPT and if the * is under “Mbr” then the selected disk is an MBR disk)
6. Now type “select disk <disk_number>” in this case, it would be “select disk 0” then hit enter on the keyboard. (If you have more than 1 hard disk then choose the disk where you want to install Windows.)
7. This will select the desired disk. At this point, you need to clean the disk completely. Cleaning the disk will delete everything from the hard disk. If you have existing data into the disk then create a backup first.
Type “Clean” and press enter key.
Now you can re-formatted the cleaned disk. You need to change the partition style to MBR.
8. Type “convert MBR” hit enter.
After a successful conversion exit the command prompt and continue Windows installation on the MBR disk.
Option 2 – Change to UEFI Mode
This option is not applicable to every computer since you need to have UEFI firmware on your motherboard. On BIOS-based systems, you won’t be able to run GPT disk.
Most of the computers running these days come with UEFI firmware with Legacy BIOS support. You have to check if your computer has UEFI firmware.
If you are getting UEFI options then this method won’t delete any existing data on your computer.
Follow these steps to change to UEFI Mode-
1. Turn off your computer completely.
2. Turn ON and press the boot key to enter into boot (BIOS) options. The boot key varies from the computer manufacturer. Generally, it is F1, F2, F10, F12, Del, or Esc keys. If you are not sure then search the boot key for your computer on Google.
3. Once you are into the BIOS menu navigate to the “Boot” option.
4. Now select the “UEFI” option and save the changes. Use up-down arrow keys to navigate.
Now, try to install Windows and you would be able to install on GPT disk without any error.
On modern computers, you will get a feature-rich UEFI interface where you can select the options using your mouse.
However, the basics are the same, you just need to change the boot from Legacy to UEFI.
How To Fix ” The selected disk has an MBR partition table. On EFI system, Windows can only be installed to GPT disks.”
This error means you have a computer running the UEFI firmware but the disk you are using has the MBR partition style. In this case, you have 2 options as well.
- The first option is to convert MBR disk to GPT (This will erase all the data from hard disk)
- Select the “Legacy” BIOS and run the existing MBR disk. ( It won’t delete data)
Option 1 – Convert MBR disk to GPT
Follow the mentioned steps to open the command prompt at the installation screen. Enter into “diskpart“, list the disks and then choose the desired disk.
After selecting the disk type “convert GPT” and hit enter on your keyboard.
The above command will clean your disk completely and convert it to the GPT partition style.
Option 2 – Change to Legacy BIOS mode
Since you already have UEFI firmware on the computer it does inherit the Legacy BIOS as well. To fix “The selected disk has an MBR partition table. On EFI system, Windows can only be installed to GPT disks” error you can simply select the legacy BIOS and run the existing MBR disk.
1. To choose the Legacy BIOS mode, shut down your computer and turn it ON again.
2. Press the boot key to enter to UEFI/BIOS menu.
3. Go to the boot tab and select “Legacy” and save the changes.
4. Restart your computer and proceed further.
You would be able to run MBR disk using Legacy BIOS mode.
Remember, you already have UEFI but you have selected Legacy BIOS then it will slow down your computer.
What is the best option BIOS or UEFI? GPT or MBR?
The best option is UEFI firmware with the GPT disk.
If you have UEFI firmware then convert your disk to GPT. If your disk is too old then you won’t be able to convert it to GPT, in this case, you have to buy a new hard disk with the latest technologies.
UEFI and GPT combination will provide you secure boot as well as faster speed. on the other hand, MBR and BIOS are old, slow and prone to boot sector malware.
Now you have the idea about BIOS, UEFI firmware, and MBR, GPT partition styles. You can easily fix any such disk-related errors by making them compatible. For example “Windows cannot be installed to this disk”. OR “The selected disk has an MBR partition table” or any other error.
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