Bootsector of the IBM PC
The MBR is 512 bytes large and is located in the first sector of a disk.
|0||440 bytes||Executable code|
|440||4 bytes||Disk MBR signature|
|446||64 bytes||Partition table|
|510||2 bytes||Boot signature (55 AA)|
When the signature is valid, the computer's BIOS will boot from the disk. However, many operating systems will not recognize partition tables without signatures. As such, the best way to bypass a disk is to disable it from the BIOS boot sequence. If that is not possible, many BIOSes will bypass the disk if the two first bytes in the MBR are:
INT 18h instruction),
which should cause a properly-compliant BIOS to start the next bootable device.
More information about the IBM PC bootsector:
- Master boot record on Wikipedia
- Boot sector on Wikipedia
- Design of the FAT file system on Wikipedia
- An Examination of the MBR
- Another examination of the MBR, similar to the above (archived)
Microsoft documented the FAT boot-sector format in KB-140418 Version 3 Dated December 6, 2003.