Fix Windows Cannot Be Installed To This Disk GPT MBR Partition Error. BIOS vs UEFI

Are you trying to install Windows 8.1 or Windows 10 on your computer and getting an error “Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk is of GPT style”? There may be a different variation of this error as “Windows cannot be installed to this hard disk space. The partition contains one or more dynamic volumes that are not supported for installation”? 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, which will cause the disk partition to be greyed out. The error also may be ” 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.

windows cannot be installed to this disk dynamic volume error

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 the partition style of the hard disk.

There are two different types of motherboard firmware, BIOS and UEFI.

And the boot processes used by this firmware are –

  1. Legacy boot (Legacy BIOS)- The boot process used by the “BIOS” firmware of the motherboard.
  2. UEFI – The boot process used by “UEFI” firmware.

Before we dig into the error and fix it, 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 the boot process and hard disk partition style.

What Is BIOS

BIOS – Stands for Basic Input/Output System; it is firmware embedded in the motherboard’s chip. 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 it ON, your computer BIOS loads the first and initializes the computer hardware to ensure they are working correctly.

After that, it loads the bootloader to initialize the Windows or other operating systems.

BIOS is older firmware running for 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. It is a newer firmware that has many new features and advantages over BIOS. The UEFI has the same job of initializing the hardware components and loading 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 bootloader 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.


uefi vs bios

Both are 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 of 4 hard disk partitions, while UEFI supports more than 4 disk partitions.

3. Computers with UEFI firmware have faster booting than BIOS.

4. UEFI offers a secure boot that validates the operating system to ensure there is no tampering 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 the properties of BIOS. 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 in the 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.

  1. MBR – Master Boot Record
  2. 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 bootloader for the installed operating system.

MBR partition structure is traditional and supports hard disks up to 2 TB in 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 the planet is likely to have its 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. In the same way, if your computer is UEFI-based, then you have to install Windows on a GPT disk.

Hence, BIOS is incompatible with the 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, which 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 the “Shift+F10” keys together to open the command prompt.

windows cannot be installed to this disk

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.

diskpart command prompt

In the above image, the computer has only 1 disk, which is shown as “Disk 0.” You will get the same if there is only one hard disk on 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 there is no *, 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 on the disk, then create a backup first.

Type “Clean” and press the enter key.

disk clean for windows cannot be installed error

Now you can re-formatted the cleaned disk. You need to change the partition style to MBR.

8. Type “convert MBR” and 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 a 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 the 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 for the boot key for your computer on Google.

3. Once you are in 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.

select UEFI boot

Now, try to install Windows, and you will be able to install it on a 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.

advanced UEFI interface asus

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.

  1. The first option is to convert the MBR disk to GPT (This will erase all the data from the hard disk)
  2. 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 on the installation screen. Enter “diskpart“,  list the disks, and then choose the desired disk.

After selecting the disk, type “convert GPT” and hit enter on your keyboard.

convert dis to gpt to fix windows cannot be installed

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.

legacy boot

You would be able to run the MBR disk using Legacy BIOS mode.

Remember, you already have UEFI, but if 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 with a secure boot and faster speed. on the other hand, MBR and BIOS are old, slow, and prone to boot sector malware.

Now you have an idea about BIOS, UEFI firmware, and MBR, GPT partition styles. You can easily fix any such disk-related errors by making them compatible.

Also Read – 

Why am I getting the “Windows cannot be installed to this disk GPT/MBR partition error” message?

This error occurs when you are installing Windows on a disk that is incompatible with firmware. If you have BIOS firmware, then install Windows on an MBR disk. For UEFI, use GPT disks.

Will converting my partition from GPT to MBR cause any data loss?

Whenever you convert the disk from MBR to GPT or vice versa, then it is necessary to format the disk in the required partition style. Once you format the disk, you will lose all the data. It is advised to create a backup before converting the partition style.

What are the advantages of using a GPT partition over an MBR partition?

GPT has the following advantages over MBR.

GPT supports more than 2 TB of hard disks.
MBR disk support only 4 partitions, while GPT supports 128 partitions.
GPT boots faster than MBR disk.
GPT is a newer standard, while MBR is old.
MBR works with older firmware BIOS, while GPT works with advanced firmware UEFI.

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