The ESP partition


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dbminter
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What exactly is the ESP partition?  I've seen it a few times now in a few different PC's.  Is that the EFI partition for UEFI systems?  I understand that the EFI partition is necessary for UEFI systems, but what exactly happens if that partition becomes corrupted or deleted?  Will a UEFI PC simply not boot if the EFI partition is not present?  And what's on the EFI partition?  Recovery tools or necessary files for booting a UEFI enabled PC?


Thanks!

Froggie
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The ESP is the "Extensible System Partition," also known as the EFI partition.  The EFI partition takes the place of what used to be managed by the LEGACY MBR and EMBR (if used). It's specifications are much more extended than the original MBR ever was.  The original EFI interface was designed by Intel and has since been brought into the public domain as UEFI.  Without it, you cannot BOOT an UEFI-based computer.

If you want to know details... see HERE.

Edited 22 January 2019 12:48 AM by Froggie
dbminter
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Hm, seems to be a little risky, if you ask me, having a separate partition that is required to boot a PC.  One partition is "weak" enough where if something went wrong with it, a PC wouldn't boot.  But, you add a 2nd required partition for booting, just seems to me you're doubling the risk of something going wrong.


Actually, now that I think about it, separating the "MBR" from the rest of the data on the primary partition might be a safer thing.  There's fewer things that can go on that partition and fewer things to "mess up" the ESP partition.

Edited 22 January 2019 1:14 AM by dbminter
jphughan
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Actually MBR was a much riskier implementation because it was designed to contain arbitrary executable code that the system would run.  It was also tiny, which became an issue as bootloaders became more complicated.  With an EFI partition, the bootloader is just a normal file on a normal file system.  That however means that in order to access the bootloader, the UEFI firmware needs to support reading the file system on which it resides -- which is why the EFI partition has to be either FAT or FAT32, because those are the only file systems that the UEFI spec mandates support for.  NTFS is optional and not widely implemented.  Having the bootloader files stored on a dedicated partition also simplifies multi-boot installations somewhat -- or so I've read.

I don't really see it as an increased risk of things going wrong, though.  Having an additional partition doesn't necessarily mean there's a greater chance that either one would become damaged.

(Side note: EFI Partition and ESP Partition are the same thing.  ESP stands for EFI System Partition.)

Edited 22 January 2019 3:00 AM by jphughan
Seekforever
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There are various sites on the web that show how you can recreate a damaged or deleted ESP partition without much trouble (never done it myself) using the Windows installation media in CMD mode.
jphughan
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^ Good point, that tool is BCDBoot. Fix Boot Problems also does that.
GO

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