How to fix disk unknown not initialized in Windows?

Updated by Admin to RAW Drive Recovery & Repair on May 30th, 2019

I have WD external hard disk connected via USB and it does not get detected in Windows explorer. Checked disk management where it shows disk as "Unknown" and "Not initialized". I don't want to lose any data, it contains all my family photos, please help.

Two disk unknown not initialized situations

1. Hard disk, external hard disk unknown, not initialized, no disk space

Disk unknown not initialized

2. Hard disk, external hard disk unknown, not initialized, unallocated space

Disk unknown not initialized unallocated

Windows Disk Management shows an error disk unknown not initialized, the hard disk may show "unallocated space" or no disk space in Disk Management, so you are not able to access data stored on this hard disk, which makes you very upset and don't know how to solve this issue.

Why is disk unknown not initialized?

Generally speaking, there are several reasons cause disk unknown not initialized:

1. Virus attack: Sometimes external hard disk is unknown not uninitialized because of virus infection.

2. Bad sectors: If there are bad sectors on the hard disk, Disk Management shows no disk space.

3. MBR corruption: When one hard disk is unknown not initialized, firstly you should consider if MBR is corrupted, because there is a first sector where MBR code and partition table is written. If MBR is corrupted, the OS fails to access data on your hard disk.

4. Partition loss: when partition is lost or deleted, disk unknown not initialized issue may happen.

5. Hardware issue.

How to fix disk unknown not initialized issue?

Firstly open Windows Disk Management and find the uninitialized disk. If this uninitialized disk shows disk capacity, it means your Windows OS has recognized this uninitialized disk, but partition is lost/deleted or MBR is corrupted due to some reasons. In this case, you need to fix/rebuild MBR and recover partition.

If this uninitialized disk doesn't show disk capacity, maybe there is a hardware issue. In this case, you need to take the uninitialized disk out and check if there is something wrong with the disk.

After checking with above methods, it is time to fix disk unknown not initialized issue with following solutions:

Solution 1: Initialize the hard disk

If disk unknown not initialized issue appears in Disk Management, the first thing you may do is to initialize the target disk. However, initialization would erase all disk data, please make sure if there is important data stored on uninitialized disk before initializing.

If there is importanta data, you should recover data from uninitialized hard disk firstly and then initialize the target disk after data recovery is successfully done.

M3 Data Recovery is a free data recovery software which supports to recover data from uninitialized hard disk, recover data from formatted, RAW, inaccessible, corrupted, lost, deleted partition, recover data from Bitlocker encrypted drive, etc.

Please follow below steps to recover data from uninitialized hard disk:

Step 1: Download and install M3 Data Recovery software on your Windows computer.

Step 2: Connect uninitialized hard disk to your Windows computer as external drive.

Step 3: Launch M3 Data Recovery software and choose Data Recovery module.

Free data recovery software

If the drive is Bitlocker encrypted, please choose Data Recovery module to recover data from Bitlocker encrypted drive.

Step 4: Click "Find More Partitions".

M3 Data Recovery

Step 5: Select the uninitialized hard disk and click Next to scan lost partitions.

Scan lost partitions

Step 6: Select the lost partition and click Next to scan the lost data.

Scan lost data from the lost partition

Step 7: After the scan completes, lost files will be listed as below window, then select the files you want to recover and save them.

Recover data with M3 Data Recovery

After data recovery from uninitialized hard disk, please follow below steps to initialize the hard disk:

Step 1: Right click My Computer or This PC.

Step 2: Select Manage from the right-click menu -> Storage -> Disk Management.

Step 3: Right click the hard disk and select "Initialize Disk".

Select Initialize Disk

Step 4: In the Initialize Disk window, check to make sure that the correct disk is selected and then select the partition style: MBR or GPT.

Initialize Disk

Step 5: Click Ok to initialize the hard disk.

After the hard disk is initialized, you can repartition it according to your needs. If there is I/O error when initializing, it means there is a hardware issue on the uninitialized hard disk.

Solution 2: Fix/Rebuild MBR

MBR corruption may cause disk unknown not initialized issue, in this case, fixing/rebuilding MBR is the quick way to solve disk unknown not initialized issue, while some 3rd-party tools (Such as Aomei Partition Assistant, EaseUS Partition Master, MiniTool Partition Wizard) have the function to fix/rebuild MBR.

Step 1: Download, install and launch Aomei Partition Assistant.

Step 2: Right click on the uninitialized hard drive and then select "Rebuild MBR".

Step 3: Select the MBR type for your OS and click "OK".

Step 4: Click "Apply" button to fix/rebuild MBR.

Solution 3: Partition recovery

Sometimes partition loss would cause disk unknown not initialized issue, if you find disk shows unknown, not initialized, unallocated space in disk management, in this situation, the best way is partition recovery - Find deleted/lost partition and then restore data. M3 Data Recovery also supports to recover data from deleted/lost partition.

Solution 4: A local data recovery service

A hardware issue can also cause disk unknown not initialized. If there is no disk space in storage media or there are bad sectors on the uninitialized hard disk, it means the hard disk has a hardware issue, hardware issue is beyond any data recovery software, please send it to a local data recovery service for help if you lost the important data.

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