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Solved-Disk Unknown Not Initialized Issue on External Hard Drive


Hard Disk Shows "Unknown Not Initialized" in Windows

As you know, Windows 10 operating system is the latest Windows OS developed by Microsoft so nowadays many of you have upgraded to Windows 10 because this operating system has many improvements compared to its previous versions. However, you still probably experience such a problem, that is "disk unknown not initialized" when opening Windows built-in Disk Management by clicking "My computer" and selecting "Manage". Usually, it is a common issue that occurs not only on removable hard drives but also on internal hard drives of laptops and desktops. When searching this topic on the internet, there are many results about it, thereinto, some forums are discussing the problem.

Let’s look at a true example from one of the forums:

I have the same problem. When I plug in the drive, it says that its successfully installed however it does not appear in "my computer". Also when I go into system tools it says that disk 1 is unknown, not initialized, unallocated. Can you please help me, I don’t want to lose my data, it contain all my pictures. Please help "
--from sevenforum

The above example shows you one situation that disk says "not initialized and unknown". The disk space shows unallocated space in Disk Management.

disk unknown not initialized

In fact, there is another situation of disk not initialized issue, but there is no disk space shown.

disk not initialize

Right now, in today's post, I will show you the reason and solution about "hard drive not initialized in disk management" issue about these two cases.

When this really happens to your WD external hard drive, what should you do? I think both the western digital data recovery and the unknown/not initialized problem fixing are necessary.

Why External Hard Drive Is Uninitialized

Do you want to know why your external hard drive is shown as "not initialized unknown" there? Could you remember what happened to this disk before you meet such a disk problem? Right now, let me make a detailed analysis of this issue about its reason.

When finding your disk is not initialized in Disk Management in Windows 10, you should learn about it occurs because of many reasons, such as virus attack, corrupted Master Boot Record, partition loss, bad sectors, some computer file system corruption and more. Once any one situation appears, "hard drive not initialized" problem probably occurs.

After knowing the reasons about such a issue, now I will help you analyze the above two cases about this issue and solve it well.

An Analysis of Two Cases of Disk Not Initialized Issue

First, open Disk Management and find the uninitialized disk. If this disk shows disk capacity, it means your Windows operating system has recognized this disk, but due to some reasons, partition is lost or MBR is corrupted. In this case, you can use a professional software to fix MBR and recover partition.

However, if there is not any information on this hard drive and it doesn’t show disk capacity, maybe it is because of disk problem or hard disk cartridge problem. You need to take the disk out and check whether there is something wrong with the disk.

After finishing making an analysis, it is time to take measures to fix "hard drive unknown and not initialized" issue. The following content will introduce you the detailed solutions to this issue. Please keep reading.

How to Solve Disk Unknown Not Initialized

Case 1: When Disk 1 Shows "Unallocated Space"

solution1 Solution 1: Initialize Your Hard Drive

When it comes to this issue, the first thing that you may do is to initialize this hard drive. You can right click "My computer" and then select "Manage" option to run Disk Management. Or you can click "Win + R" keys and input "compmgmt.msc" to run this free partition management tool. Please find this external hard drive which is connected to computer and you will find this unknown disk shows "unallocated" or you will find there is nothing. If there are no important files saved to this external hard drive, you can try to initialize it in MBR or GPT partition style to directly solve this problem in Windows 10.

initialize disk

tip Tip:
Disk initialization can clear all data off and cause hard drive data loss. Usually you have stored large amount of data on the external hard drive, it is not suggested to perform such an initialization operation. Otherwise, all data is lost.

Therefore, in order to avoid data loss and avoid getting an error warning, so this solution is not the best one.

solution2 Solution 2: Rebuild MBR

As you know, MBR is the abbreviation of Master Boot Record which is a special type of boot sector at the beginning of the hard drive. Nevertheless, MBR is possible to be corrupted due do many reasons, such as malware infection, accidental power failure, and mistaken operation. If MBR gets corrupted, the operating system is not likely to know where to go to access the data. When meeting this case, "disk 1 unknown not initialized external hard drive" issue is possible to occur. Therefore, you need to rebuild MBR to your disk to solve this issue. How to fix MBR in Windows 10?

In the partition and disk management software market, there is one tool which is called MiniTool Partition Wizard that is highly popular with many users. It is believed that you also know it. This partition and disk manager is designed to do partition and disk management in different operating systems, including Windows Vista/XP/7/8/8.1/10, Windows Server 2000/2003/2008/2012/2016. It has six different editions, such as Free Edition, Professional Edition, Pro Ultimate, Server Edition, Enterprise Edition and Technician Edition, and each edition has different functions. Please click to know the comparison.

In order to fix corrupted Master Boot Record, you are suggested to use its Free Edition. First of all, download this free tool and install it on your computer, and then start to perform this operation.

Step 1: Please double click MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition and then select "Launch Application" option.

(Tip: Only Free Edition has such an option.)

Step 2: Then you can see many features in the left pane on the main interface. Please select the unknown external hard drive, click "Rebuild MBR" feature from "Check Disk" menu. You can also right-click the target disk and select this function.

rebuild mbr

Step 3: Then you will go back to the main interface. Click "Apply" button to execute the change.

If this way is also unless, try another solution as follows.

solution3 Solution 3: Partition Recovery

To some degree, rebuilding MBR can’t work on "disk unknown not initialized" issue. In Disk Management, if you find disk shows unallocated space, just try to do partition recovery. Fortunately, you can also use "Partition Recovery" feature of MiniTool Partition Wizard to do this work. This feature is a quite good solution, which can help you to recover the lost partition, also including data on the partition. As long as the new partition has not been created, it is useful.

attentions Attentions:
1. "Partition Recovery" is a paid feature. Here MiniTool Partition Wizard Professional Edition is worthy of being recommended.
2. MiniTool Partition Wizard Free Edition can only be used to scan lost partitions, not to recover the scanned partitions. You can free download the Free Edition to check whether lost partitions can be found.

3. Hard drives (both MBR and GPT) that suffer from disk unknown not initialized issue will be shown as MBR disk in Partition Wizard. If it was a GPT disk and now is shown as MBR, please convert it to GPT before you recover partition. Otherwise, there will be a failure.

When "hard drive not initialized in Disk Management" occurs, please try this solution, just like sevenforums mentioned using partition recovery to solve this issue. Here is a step-by-step guidance below in Windows 10.

Step 1: First of all, run MiniTool Partition Wizard right now. Then you will enter into its main interface. Just choose the target disk which is shown as "unallocated space" and right-click on it to select "Partition Recovery" or click this function from "Check Disk" drop-down menu.

partition recovery

It is likely for your external hard drive to show "bad disk" in MiniTool Partition Wizard. In this case, you also can right-click on this disk and then make a partition recovery.

Step 2: Then it is time to select scanning range for the specified disk. You can see three scanning range as follows:

  • Full Disk: This setting can help you scan the entire disk, which is very useful to find the lost partition.
  • Unallocated Space: This choice only helps to scan free space.
  • Specified Range: It is useful to scan specified sectors. When clicking this option, you can change "Starting LBA" and "Ending LBA" according to your needs.

Just choose one to scan the deleted or lost partition according to your needs. Then click "Next" to continue.

scanning range

Step 3: Then please select a scanning method.

1.Quick Scan: It can restore your partition if your lost/deleted partitions are continuous. When program finds a lost/deleted partition, it will jump to the end of the partition to continue scanning other lost/deleted partitions.
2.Full Scan: This feature will scan each sector of specified scanning range. If quick scan cannot find lost partitions, try full scan to allocated partitions.

Click "Next" to continue doing partition recovery in Windows 10.

scan mode

Step 4: Then you need wait for a while for this scan and find the lost or deleted partitions. After finishing scan, all lost partitions will be displayed in the following list. Please select the partitions you need. Here you are allowed to double click the searched partition to explore the content. Then click "Finish" option to go back to the main interface.

search partitions

Step 5: In the main interface, you can preview all lost partitions. Click "Apply" to execute all changes.


recommend Tip:
This screenshot shows you the partitions you will recover are not allocated drive letter. You need to use MiniTool Partition Wizard to change drive letter.

Do you want to have a try? Just download or purchase MiniTool Partition Wizard now.


If you want to know a more intuitive guidance, this video is useful.

After performing partition recovery, you can repair "disk 1 unknown not initialized external hard drive" issue and all data on this external hard drive can be accessed.

solution4 Solution 4: Recover Data from Unknown Disk

If MiniTool Partition Wizard can’t help you find the lost or deleted partitions, but there is a large amount of important data saved on the hard drive, what should you do in Windows 10? Don’t panic! The data on your external hard drive can be recovered with a professional data recovery software. In addition to the partition manager, MiniTool Company also owns such a data recovery tool – MiniTool Power Data Recovery. With the help of this tool, you can quickly retrieve data. Click here to learn the guidance to recover data from unallocated space.

recover data

Case 2: When Nothing Is Shown on Disk in Disk Management

solution 1 Solution 1: Turn off PC and Remove Battery

In fact, there is another situation of disk not initialized issue, but there is no disk space shown due to the PC motherboard issue. Just try to remove the battery to fix the issue:

1. Turn off the computer.
2. Disconnect the data and power cables from the problematic drive.
3. Remove the CMOS battery for ten more seconds.
4. Insert the CMOS battery.
5. Turn on the computer.
6. Shut down your computer.
7. Connect data and power cable of problematic drive.
8. Start the computer.

If this way doesn't work, read on.

solution 2 Solution 2: Replace the Bad External Hard Drive

Usually, if your disk shows not initialized and unknown, probably it is unable to show any disk information in Disk Management in Windows 10. When you connect this disk to another computer, it is possible that the issue still exists. In this case, you should take this disk out and send it to professionals for a check to find whether there are some bad sectors. If there is a physical error, you only can throw it away and replace this bad external hard drive.

In addition, there are still some disk problems in Disk Management, such as hard disk is not detected issue and hard drive space is missing problem, the following two articles are useful when there is a need.

recommend Hard Drive Space Is Missing? Take These Ways to Find It out
recommend Hard Disk not Detected During Windows Installation – Solved


In summary, this issue "disk unknown not initialized" can be solved quickly and easily with the assistance of MiniTool Partition Wizard and Power Data Recovery. When meeting such a problem, please try MiniTool products to rebuild MBR, recover partition and retrieve data right now. Hope this post is useful to you. Welcome to leave a comment below if you have any suggestion or question. Thanks in advance.