MBR vs. GPT


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Art Ford
Art Ford
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This is not my month for Windows. Having fixed two systems with help from J.P., a third system (\\kafka) now won't get past the 2nd motherboard logo screen where one is given the option of going into BIOS, etc. In the Reflect PE Rescue USB I have tried various measures to no avail, including "Fix Windows Boot issues" and restoring Windows to last saved version.
 As a final measure, I will try to restore from the Reflect PE Rescue USB. However, if you examine the attached picture, you will see that the primary C: drive is shown as GPT, while D: is shown as MBR. I remember somewhere that before doing a restore, one must conform both images to the same (GPT?). Is that correct, and if so, how to do it?
  (If this Reflect Restore doesn't work, then maybe the BIOS is corrupted. However, I can go into BIOS and do the usual things, e.g., boot order.)
                     Thanks, cma
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kafka_screenshot.bmp (12 views, 6.00 MB)
jphughan
jphughan
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First, kudos for providing a screenshot, because this will be yet another case where a picture is worth a thousand words because it reveals information about the setup that the poster might never have thought to mention due to not realizing its importance.

But my initial question is this: Which disk are you actually TRYING to boot from? Is it GPT Disk 1, or MBR Disk 2? You say that as a final measure, you want to "restore", but you're not specifying which disk you're restoring TO, or for that matter what image you're restoring FROM. Disk 1 and Disk 2 are independent of each other, and there's no requirement that all disks in a system be either GPT or MBR. You can certainly mix and match, as you're doing. But if you have an image that CAME from a GPT disk, then in the overwhelming majority of cases, you will want to restore it onto a GPT disk. Same with MBR. But if you're trying to boot from GPT Disk 1 and are considering restoring that disk from an earlier backup that was originally captured from that very disk, then the fact that Disk 2 uses MBR is irrelevant because it's not involved in the operation.  Same if Disk 2 is the only disk of interest -- although switching from booting from a GPT disk to an MBR disk, or vice versa, might require BIOS tweaks since the former would boot in UEFI mode and the latter would boot in BIOS mode.

In terms of what's strange about your screenshot, notice that on Disk 2, two of the partitions are in green.  That means that they are inside an "extended partition".  Without going too deep down a rabbit hole, that was a hack devised to work around the fact that MBR disks can nominally only have four partitions.  The extended partition was a construct that is technically a single partition as far as the Master Boot Record is concerned, but it can contain multiple logical volumes -- which are the two items you see in green.  But a major restriction of logical volumes inside an extended partition is that they cannot be used for booting.  I see that those two partitions have the Windows logo on them, which is normally Reflect's way of indicating that the partition is related to booting Windows.  I don't know why it's doing that for the second partition given that it shows as unformatted, but if that logo's appearance on the FIRST green partition is because that's a Windows partition you've restored from somewhere and are trying to boot from, then that's the reason you're stuck -- or at least ONE of the reasons you're stuck.  Another reason that entire setup is odd is because you only have three volumes on that disk to begin with, and therefore there's no real reason to have an extended partition at all.

Edited 13 November 2022 11:21 PM by jphughan
Art Ford
Art Ford
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The attached "kafka_view_local_disks.bmp" shows that Disk1 is GPT and Disk2 is MBR. Are you saying that none of the partitions on Disk1 is a boot partition? If so, then something is very wrong. I was told (I think on this forum) that one must backup the entire row of images with the C: drive in order to be able to restore to a bootable system. You appear to be saying that Reflect thinks I don't have a boot partition to restore.
   The plan is to restore from a Reflect image on external SSD. See "kafka_restore_image.bmp". However, the forum in not allow me to upload these two bmp files.
jphughan
jphughan
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No, what I said was that you don't have any bootable partitions on Disk 2, i.e. the MBR disk that you seem to be worried about.  Disk 1, which is GPT, has a standard Windows partition layout for a GPT disk meant to be booted in UEFI mode.  It has two Recovery partitions, namely the ones at either end of the disk, because Windows used to place the Recovery partition at the beginning of the disk, but at some point it needed a larger Recovery partition, so it shrank the C drive to free up space to create that second Recovery partition at the end of the disk.  That's why the first partition has basically nothing on it anymore.  It's just dead weight now, but it wouldn't be easy to repurpose that capacity.  But none of that would prevent it from being usable as a boot disk.  Since your Rescue Media was booted in UEFI mode, as indicated by the Rescue Media title bar, your system is obviously configured to allow UEFI booting.  That also means that Fix Boot Problems would be performing UEFI-appropriate fixes if you ran it.  So if you're sure you selected the correct disk when you ran it and you're still having trouble, then I'm not immediately sure what to tell you apart from perhaps looking through your boot order in the BIOS or trying to force a boot from that disk by invoking the system's one-time boot menu and selecting that disk (which might show up as Windows Boot Manager).

GO

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