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Can You Access GPT Protective Partition Or Recover Data Off It


GPT is more advanced in many aspects when compared to MBR. That's why GPT is popular and be used by many people. But sometimes, when you came across OS (operating system) crash accidentally and connected the hard drive to another computer in order to access data, you failed and see a GPT protective partition appear. Don't be sad if you're right now stuck with it. Here, we'll provide solutions to help you access GPT protective partition and recover data from it.

Please start with a specific case.

"The laptop died in the middle of writing an email. When I remove the hard drive and connect it to another laptop as an external drive (using a USB to SATA adapter) the drive shows up, but it shows as a 'Healthy (GPT Protective Partition)' with no drive letter associated with it, so I cannot copy files to another PC. When I try to talk to HP about the problem, they say that they do not help with backups. When I try to tell them I don't need help with the backup, but with what I need to do so I can see the data, they keep saying they do not help with backups.

Does anyone know how I can correct the partition information without losing all of the data on the drive?"

– from RLKnecht at HP Support Forums

hp Click on this link to see the full content of above case.

The user said that after he removed the hard drive from the dead laptop and connected it to another computer, the drive was indeed recognized by and shown in computer Disk Management. However, what really bothers him is that the hard drive is now stated as a GPT protective partition; and what's more, he loses entry to data saved there. After trying to seek help from HP support team, he still failed.

Seeing this, we decide to offer solutions to help you recover data from GPT partition and convert GPT to MBR if needed.

Access GPT Protective Partition Data

When you find your partition becomes a GPT protective partition but can't access data in it, we recommend that all of you install MiniTool Power Data Recovery to your computer. Then, launch this powerful data recovery software to get rid of the annoying data loss issues efficiently.

Note: the free edition of MiniTool Power Data Recovery only allow you to recover no more than 1GB of data, so you're advised to acquire a license for an advanced edition to break the limit.

Here are the 3 steps for you to complete GPT protective partition data recovery:

Step 1: open MiniTool data recovery software and choose "Damaged Partition Recovery" from the main window.

Step 2: select the GPT disk with protective partition and click on "Full Scan". (You can set the software to scan only needed types of files under "Settings" -> "Extra search for known file types").

GPT protective partition 15

Step 3: look through the found files carefully and pick out your needed ones to save by pressing "Save" button.

Note: MiniTool Power Data Recovery gives support to both GPT disk and MBR disk. So you can also use it to recover hard disk data no matter which type the disk belongs to and how the data get lost – accidental deletion/formatting or other reasons.

Clear GPT Protective Partition & Convert GPT to MBR

Imagine this: when your OS is corrupted, you take out the hard drive carefully and connect it to the other computer properly, only to find this GPT disk has become a GPT protected partition. How would you feel?

We are pretty sure that you'll be pissed off especially when there are valuable files you need on that disk. You must be eager to find a way to carry out GPT partition recovery (see the previous part). Even if you don't care much about the data on that GPT protective partition in XP, you definitely need a solution to make that GPT disk available again.

Remove GPT Protective Partition Effectively

When you select the GPT protected partition, you'll find that both the built-in Disk Management (DM) tool and MiniTool Partition Wizard – a professional disk manager – have not offered a function like delete partition and format partition. So, we advise you to adopt another Windows snap-in tool called DiskPart to clear the GPT protective partition first.

Firstly, you need to open Diskpart.exe by following ways:
  • Click on "Start" button from the lower left corner of the screen -> choose "Run" from pop-up menu -> input "diskpart" -> click on "OK" button.

    GPT protective partition 8

  • Click on "Start" button -> select "Run" option -> input "command" -> click on "OK" button -> input "diskpart" -> press "Enter" in keyboard.

    GPT protective partition 9

Secondly, you should enter a few commands to clear GPT protective partition:
  • Input "list disk" and press "Enter". After that, all the disks connected to this computer will be listed in order.
  • Input "select disk *" and press "Enter". "*" stands for the number of the disk that you want to remove GPT protective partition from. You may confirm the target GPT disk by looking at the "Size" and "Free" information here or just opening DM to check. After that, a prompt message will show up – "Disk * is now the selected disk".
  • Input "clean". When the clean process is completed, you'll see "DiskPart succeeded in cleaning the disk" prompt.

    GPT protective partition 10

After that, you could just click on the GPT protective partition 16 button or input "exit" and press "Enter" to close DiskPart.

Thirdly, you could go to DM to check the result – whether the GPT protective partition in XP is gone.

GPT protective partition 11

Now, you can see that disk 3 has been changed from "Basic" and "Healthy (GPT Protective Partition)" to "Unknown, Not Initialized" and "Unallocated". That is to say, the work to delete GPT protective partition is finished.

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Convert GPT to MBR Quickly

After the GPT protective partition had been removed, you may reply on the following methods to finish disk conversion from GPT to MBR:

solution 1 Use MiniTool Partition Wizard.
MiniTool Partition Wizard is able to convert GPT to MBR easily. When you enter it after you removed the GPT protective partition, you'll find that the disk becomes unallocated space (and shows as MBR automatically). Therefore, you only need to create a partition by using the unallocated space to make the disk usable again. (You don't need to initialize disk first or know how to format the previous GPT partition).

Just open this software after you have removed GPT partition -> select/right click on the unallocated space on the previous GPT disk -> choose "Create Partition" from left pane or select "Create" from the right-click menu to build new drive on the disk so as to make it usable again -> press "Apply" and choose "Yes" to end.

Access GPT protective partition 1

Note: you can also select the disk and choose "Partition Recovery" from the left pane to recover partition from the originally GPT disk directly.

Access GPT protective partition 2

solution 2 Use Disk Management tool.
Open DM -> right click on the disk -> choose "Initialize Disk". After that, you can right click on "Unallocated" space and choose "New Partition" to create partition(s) on it.

GPT protective partition 12

solution 3 Use DiskPart command.
Enter "list disk" -> enter "select disk *" -> enter "clean" -> enter "convert mbr".

However, you may fail sometimes by using this method. You may see "The disk you specified cannot be converted to MBR. Please select an empty GPT disk to convert." prompt message. At this time, please refer to the above 2 methods.

GPT protective partition 13

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About GPT Protective Partition & GPT Disk

Most users' natural response when they see GPT protective partition will be asking the following things: what GPT is, how does GPT protective partition form, how to repair it and how to recover data from GPT partition. In the previous two parts, we have talked about the way to recover data or to make the disk usable again. So here in this part, we'll mainly focus on the appearance of GPT protective partition, what GPT is and GPT vs. MBR.

When Will GPT Protective Partition Appear

As a new kind of disk type, GPT is supported by most operating systems like Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003 SP1, Windows Server 2008. However, we find that the 32-bit Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 give no support to GPT disk. That is to say, when users connect a GPT disk to a 32-bit Windows XP or 32-bit Windows Server 2003 computer, this disk will not be shown in Windows Explorer.

However, as we've mentioned in the beginning of the article, the GPT disk does show up in Windows Disk Management (WDM) as Healthy (GPT Protective Partition) with no drive letter. That explains why it can't be found in Windows Explorer. And the most serious problem is even when we right click on the GPT protected partition, the system will not allow us to assign a letter to it.

GPT protective partition 5

Yet, you need to know that GPT disk is supported (GPT protective partition will not appear) on all computers with 64-bit operating systems, including Windows XP Professional and Windows Server 2003.

GPT protective partition 6

As a result, 64-bit operating systems offer better compatibility than 32-bit operating systems, so they all give both read and write support to GPT disk.

What Is GPT

Short for GUID Partition Table, GPT is a standard for the layout of the partition table on a physical hard disk, using GUID (Globally Unique Identifiers). It is a famous and advanced partitioning scheme used more and more frequently nowadays. Allocating 64 bits for logical block addresses, GPT supports a maximum disk size of 264 sectors. For disks which are made up of 512-byte sectors, the maximum size can be up to 9.4 ZB or 8 ZiB.

The most important reason why GPT appears is to replace the old MBR (Master Boot Record) gradually. For those disks which have a sector size of 512 bytes, MBR partition table does not allow the partition capacity to be greater than 2.0 TB. After noticing this limitation, some hardware manufacturers, such as Seagate and Western Digital, start to upgrade the sector size of their large-capacity disks to 4KB.

GPT protective partition 1

This means that the effective size limit of MBR disks is temporarily raised to 8.8TB. This solution seems to work well, reducing users' demand for GDP temporarily. However, it brings confusion as well: when booting from BIOS on a device with a large block, how can we divide the disk partitions in the best way.

Apple once warned – we should not assume that all device block size is 512 bytes. The truth is some modern storage devices, such as SSD (Solid State Drive), might use 1024-byte blocks. What's more, some MO (magneto-optical) discs might use 2048-byte sectors though they're often not partitioned. With this in mind, some manufacturers plan to produce hard drives with 4096-byte sectors; but as of early 2010, this new kind of hard disk is still disguised as a disk with 512-byte sectors in the operating system with the help of firmware.

Why Choose GPT over MBR

In addition to the 2TB capacity limit, MBR disk has many other restrictions, thus an increasing number of users decide to replace their MBR disk with GPT/convert it to GPT. Here, we'd like to show users the main reasons for choosing GPT over MBR:

GPT protective partition 4

  • GPT uses only LBA, so the CHS related problems would no longer exist.
  • Assuming the size of disk pointer and that of the sector are respectively 64 and 512 bytes, we can find the largest disk capacity that GPT can handle with is up to 512x264 bytes.
  • Data structures are stored in 2 different parts of GPT disk: in the beginning and at the end. Such duplication increases the chances of successful recovery when damage is caused.
  • Cyclic redundancy check value of GPT disk is calculated for critical data structures to improve the chance of data corruption detection rate.
  • GPT stores all partition in a single partition table (with backup), so the extended partition or logical partition is no longer necessary. By default, GPT can support up to 128 partitions.
  • GPT uses a 16-byte GUID value to identify the partition type while MBR provides 1-byte partition type code; this makes partition types less likely to conflict.
As a result, you can choose to convert MBR disk to GPT disk according to needs.

Tips: we don't suggest users convert an MBR disk with operating system to GPT because it may cause boot failure due to the different boot modes.


Obviously, the following two questions are mostly asked by users who are in face of a GPT protective partition:

a). how to recover important data from GPT protective partition.
b). how to make the GPT disk with protective partition appear in Windows Explorer & how to make it work normally again.

By reading the previous parts, you'll find answers to those questions. And you'll find it's so easy to access GPT protective partition data and to remove protective partition & fix GPT disk/convert it to MBR.

Please feel free to leave a short message below if you have any doubts or questions.