Resolving Windows Cannot Be Installed To This Disk Problem

"Windows cannot be installed to this disk" problem is caused by mismatch between boot method (UEFI/non-UEFI) and disk layout (GPT/MBR). Windows assumes GPT layout for UEFI boot method, and MBR layout for non-UEFI boot method.

This Windows installation problem can be resolved either by switching boot method between UEFI and non-UEFI in BIOS/UEFI setup or by changing disk layout from GPT to MBR or vice versa.

Contents

1. Symptoms of this problem

During Windows installation the following error message appears:

Windows cannot be installed to this disk. (Show details)
Windows cannot be installed to this disk
Windows cannot be installed to this disk


After clicking on (Show Details) link, one of the following error messages is displayed:

  • Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk is of the GPT partition style.
Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk is of the GPT partition style.
Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk is of the GPT partition style.
  • Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk has an MBR partition table. On EFI systems, Windows can be only installed to GPT disks.
Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk has an MBR partition table.
Windows cannot be installed to this disk. The selected disk has an MBR partition table.

2. UEFI, non-UEFI, MBR and GPT compatibility

Modern computers support two methods of booting: UEFI and non-UEFI. Latter method is also called CSM (Compatibility Support Module), Legacy or BIOS.

Also, there are two possible partitioning layouts (ways to create partitions on the hard disk drive or solid state drive): MBR and GPT. MBR is an old layout, supported since IBM PC DOS released in 1980s. Size of MBR-compatible storage device is limited to 2 Terabytes. GPT is a relatively new layout, supported since Windows Vista released in 2006. GPT does not impose any practical limitations on storage device size.

Windows compatibility with combinations of these technologies is shown below:

  Boot Method
UEFI non-UEFI
Disk layout GPT
MBR


Also it is very important to boot Windows Installation Media and Installed Windows using the same boot method:

  Boot Method for Windows Installation Media
UEFI non-UEFI
Boot Method for Installed Windows UEFI
non-UEFI

3. How to resolve "Windows cannot be installed to this disk" problem

(A) Make your choice between UEFI and non-UEFI boot method
  1. If you must install Windows to bootable HDD or bootable SSD larger than 2 TB, then you must use GPT partitioning layout, so UEFI boot method.
  2. If your computer is manufactured before 2012, and does not support UEFI boot method, then you must use non-UEFI/CSM/Legacy/BIOS boot method, so MBR partitioning layout.
  3. If your computer is too new and too restricted (supports UEFI boot method only, and does not have support for non-UEFI/CSM/Legacy/BIOS boot method), then you must use UEFI boot method, so GPT partitioning layout.
  4. Otherwise, choose between UEFI and non-UEFI boot method depending on existing disk layout (GPT or MBR correspondingly).
(B) If you have chosen UEFI boot method:
  1. Format your Windows installation USB thumbdrive in such way that it will have GPT layout and one FAT32 partition. Or just use "Windows Vista/7/8/8.1/10 installer (for UEFI-based computers)" option in FlashBoot Free.
  2. If you are installing Windows 8, 8.1 or 10, enable Secure Boot in BIOS/UEFI Setup. If you are installing Windows 7 or Vista, disable Secure Boot in BIOS/UEFI Setup.
  3. Enable UEFI boot mode and disable non-UEFI/CSM/Legacy/BIOS boot mode for external USB storage devices in BIOS/UEFI Setup.
  4. Enable UEFI boot mode and disable non-UEFI/CSM/Legacy/BIOS boot mode for internal HDD/SSD storage devices in BIOS/UEFI Setup.
  5. For extra safety, temporarily disconnect all internal HDDs/SSDs except bootable HDD/SSD. Red warning below explains why this is important.
  6. Boot from Windows installation USB thumbdrive.
  7. If your internal HDD/SSD has GPT layout, just install Windows normally.
  8. If your internal HDD/SSD has MBR layout, save all useful data from all partititions to external USB HDD (for example, using Emergency Boot Kit File Manager or using Windows To Go on USB thumbdrive prepared with FlashBoot Free), then delete all partitions on internal HDD/SDD and convert it to GPT layout. Assuming all important data is already saved, this can be done right from Windows setup. Press Shift+F10 to open console and type in the following commands:
    diskpart
    list disk
    select disk 100
    Warning: diskpart will permanently erase/destroy all data on the selected disk. Please double-check that you are erasing expected disk. Substitute correct disk number from "list disk" command instead of 100.
  9. clean
    convert gpt
    exit
    exit
    MBR disk converted to GPT disk in Windows setup
    MBR disk converted to GPT disk in Windows setup
    Then click on Refresh link. Starting from this point, Windows setup will continue normally and "Windows Cannot Be Installed To This Disk" problem will be resolved.
    Windows cannot be installed to this disk is resolved_for_gpt
    Windows cannot be installed to this disk is resolved_for_gpt
  10. Since Windows 10 1703 (Creators Update) there's a new console command (mbr2gpt) which can do in-place conversion of MBR disk layout to GPT disk layout, without moving data to external USB HDD and without deleting partitions. Even if you are installing Windows 7, you can temporarily boot from Windows 10 1703 installation media, apply mbr2gpt, and then return to Windows 7 installation.
  11. After Windows installation is finished, you can reconnect non-bootable internal HDDs/SSDs, if you have ones.
(C) If you have chosen BIOS boot method:
  1. Format your Windows installation USB thumbdrive in such way that it will have MBR layout and one FAT32 partition. Or just use "Windows Vista/7/8/8.1/10 installer (for BIOS-based computers)" option in FlashBoot Free.
  2. Disable Secure Boot in BIOS/UEFI Setup, regardless of Windows version you are installing.
  3. Enable non-UEFI/CSM/Legacy/BIOS boot mode and disable UEFI boot mode for external USB storage devices in BIOS/UEFI Setup.
  4. Enable non-UEFI/CSM/Legacy/BIOS boot mode and disable UEFI boot mode for internal HDD/SSD storage devices in BIOS/UEFI Setup.
  5. For extra safety, temporarily disconnect all internal HDDs/SSDs except bootable HDD/SSD. Red warning below explains why this is important.
  6. Boot from Windows installation USB thumbdrive.
  7. If your internal HDD/SSD has MBR layout, just install Windows normally.
  8. If your internal HDD/SSD has GPT layout, save all useful data from all partititions to external USB HDD (for example, using Emergency Boot Kit File Manager or using Windows To Go on USB thumbdrive prepared with FlashBoot Free), then delete all partitions on internal HDD/SDD and convert it to MBR layout. Assuming all important data is already saved, this can be done right from Windows setup. Press Shift+F10 to open console and type in the following commands:
    diskpart
    list disk
    select disk 100
    Warning: diskpart will permanently erase/destroy all data on the selected disk. Please double-check that you are erasing expected disk. Substitute correct disk number from "list disk" command instead of 100.
  9. clean
    convert mbr
    exit
    exit
    GPT disk converted to MBR disk in Windows setup
    GPT disk converted to MBR disk in Windows setup
    Then click on Refresh link. Starting from this point, Windows setup will continue normally and "Windows Cannot Be Installed To This Disk" problem will be resolved.
    Windows cannot be installed to this disk is resolved_for_mbr
    Windows cannot be installed to this disk is resolved_for_mbr
  10. After Windows installation is finished, you can reconnect non-bootable internal HDDs/SSDs, if you have ones.