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Master boot record

Master boot record

(also MBR)

Master boot record definition

Master Boot Record (MBR) refers to a specialized region on a storage device that holds essential information required to initiate a computer’s boot sequence. Positioned within the initial sector of the hard drive, the MBR houses a partition table that outlines the device’s partitions, along with their corresponding file systems. Additionally, the MBR contains a bootloader that enables the loading of the operating system from the designated active partition.

See also: bootkit, BIOS rootkit

Master boot record examples

  • Standard MBR: The most common type of MBR, used in BIOS-based systems. It contains a partition table with four entries, allowing up to four primary partitions or three primary partitions and one extended partition.
  • GUID Partition Table (GPT): A modern alternative to MBR, used in UEFI-based systems. GPT allows for a larger number of partitions and supports larger storage devices.

Comparing master boot record to other boot methods

Master boot record (MBR) and GUID Partition Table (GPT) are two types of partition schemes used in storage devices. MBR is older and has limitations such as a maximum of four primary partitions and support for storage devices up to 2TB. GPT is a more advanced partition scheme that allows for a larger number of partitions and supports storage devices larger than 2TB.

Master boot record pros and cons


  • Widely supported by older operating systems and hardware.
  • Simple and easy to use.


  • Limited to four primary partitions.
  • Supports storage devices up to 2TB only.
  • Less secure, as it lacks built-in protection against data corruption.

Tips for protecting your master boot record

  • Always use reliable antivirus and antimalware software.
  • Keep your operating system and software up to date.
  • Regularly back up your data to a separate storage device.

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