Fix Partition Table Issues When Trying To Dual-Boot Windows and Linux

Before proceeding..

Check whether your partition table is GPT or MBR.
MBR allows only 4 primary partitions where as GPT disks support up to 128 partitions.

How to find GPT or MBR

UEFI based or BIOS based computer.

Check your BIOS, if you have an UEFI based system there must be an option to enable UEFI. If you have an UEFI based system, then verify whether your current operating system is installed in UEFI mode or legacy BIOS mode. Use any disk utility of your choice. An EFI system partition which is basically a small FAT32 partition around 100mb indicates that you boot in UEFI mode.

Decide whether you want to install in UEFI mode or Bios mode.

Booting your installation media (USB or CD) in wrong mode usually cause trouble.

Boot USB/ DVD in UEFI or BIOS mode

ERROR: Windows cannot be installed to this disk. the selected disk has an MBR partition table.

This happens when you load the EFI installer, but your disk is of type MBR. To install in UEFI mode your disk should be partitioned in GPT style. Boot your installation media in BIOS mode to see if that fix the problem.

Windows cannot be installed to this disk. the selected disk is of the GPT partition style.

Boot your LiveDVD or LiveUSB in EFI mode and try again.

Here are some common ways you could accidentally damage your partition table.

You converted a MBR disk to GPT while Windows is still on the drive. Now you neither can boot into Windows nor Grub bootloader will recognize Windows.

For instance, if you want to install Ubuntu alongside Windows 8.1, but it requires too many primary partitions to fit on your MBR disk, you may consider converting your old-style MBR disk to GPT. After conversion, the master boot record; the sector that contains the initial bits of the Windows boot loader will be overwritten and Windows won’t boot. When this happens, there are a couple of options to bring your System back to it’s previous working state.

  1. Rewrite MBR to bring Windows back to it’s life.
    If that’s what you want, use gdisk’s recovery and transformation options to convert GPT into MBR. Then simply run startup repair from a Windows installation media.
    `sudo gdisk /dev/sda
    Press ‘r’ to open the recovery & transformation menu.
    Then ‘g’ to convert GPT disk into MBR.
    Finally ‘w’ to save changes and exit.`
  2. Perform a clean Windows install and then put Linux afterwards.
    Backup any important files that may be in your Windows partition. This can be done while booted into a Linux Live CD/USB. Decide a multi-boot partition scheme of your choice and create partitions as required. Installing Windows into an unallocated space brings some tangible benefits. This way Windows installer can automate the creation of partitions such as EFI system partition, Microsoft reserved partition, Recovery partition etc. It typically do a better job than a manual partitioning will do.
Partitions created in Windows are not showing up on the Ubuntu/Linux Installer or partition table seems to be messed up

Check if the disk is partitioned dynamically within Windows. Linux does not in anyway can properly read dynamic drives.

Converting dynamic disk to basic disk without data loss is not that easy unless you use a third party disk utility. Maybe you could try EaseUS Partition Master, though I have not tried it myself.

Or your partition table may have become corrupted. Alternatively you could try running TestDisk to see if that fix your partition table.

Please proceed with caution. These could result in the loss of ALL your data!
If there is anything that could be improved, please leave a comment.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *