In DISK UTILITY when you choose format drive, there are four options. I would like to know what's best and fastest for USB flash drives, USB HDD and any differences between each format type.

The options are:

  • Master boot Record
  • GUID Partition Table
  • Don't partition
  • Apple Partition Map

Disk utility format


I'll need to research this some more, but I'm going to guess that the following is not totally inacurrate:

  • Master Boot Record (MBR)- the most common, this is highly compatible, and can be used for making a Live USB, among other things. Most hard disks are formatted like this.
  • GUID Partition Table (GPT)- is used for very large (more than 2TB) hard drives. It is newer than MBR and the two are not compatible. This may not be the right choice for 1TB external hard drive. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GUID_Partition_Table.
  • Don't partition - the rough equivalent of rubbing a magnet on the side of a drive, but with a much lower risk of damaging the drive. Not recognized in Windows. Can't use NTFS.
  • Apple Partition Map (APM) - Is a legacy format introduced with the 680x0-based Macintosh II in 1987. The format was also used in PowerPC Macs. Apple switched to GPT with Intel's Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) in 2006 for Intel-based Macs. see Apple Technical Note TN2166 "The Road to GPT" section for more details.

If anybody knows about the GUID Partition Table, or knows what the purpose to the Apple Partition Table is, feel free to edit it in to my answer. ;)

  • What effect gives rubbing magnet on the side of a drive? Will drive be faster couse of no MBR? I tryd for testing Dont partition and in sudo fdisk /dev/sdb -l it shows like this paste.ubuntu.com/1458634 Just now i found testing that using Dont partition i cant NTFS. I was hopping Dont partition is faster or better or mainly secure couse of lighter couse of less something in drive system configuration? – Kangarooo Dec 23 '12 at 3:16
  • I read a bit more about MBR and GPT and they make something in front of Disk to manage where starts partitions. Since i will use whole 1TB USB HDD external as backup for files and whole drive so maybe theres some pluses in DOnt partition? If some flaws then ill use MBR. – Kangarooo Dec 23 '12 at 3:37
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    @Kangaroo Well, a non-partitioned hard drive can't be partitioned, obviously, but overall MBR seems like the best: NTFS support, bootable, etc. Unless the whole drive is encrypted, any possible security doesn't really matter. – JamesTheAwesomeDude Dec 23 '12 at 22:37
  • Maybe there are some pluses in Dont partition? – Kangarooo Dec 24 '12 at 0:38
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    Lol, maybe you save 1KB of overhead... I don't think that, with today's technology, there are any significant advantages to not partitioning. – JamesTheAwesomeDude Dec 25 '12 at 6:26

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