The Unknown Not Initialized issue is normal with brand new hard drive. Before you can start using a new hard drive, you need to initialize it, i.e., define partition table and format the logical volumes.
You can choose between the new GPT partition map or stay with the old school MBR and format the disk with either NTFS, exFAT or FAT32 file system.
However, if the Unknown and Not Initialized error appears on a hard drive that was in use and contained data, it indicates a severe problem with the drive, which can lead to permanent data loss.
In this guide, we have discussed a few possible troubleshooting methods and solutions to fix the disk ‘Unknown Not Initialized’ issue in Windows PC without data loss.
How to Fix Unknown Not Initialize Disk Error in Windows
To fix the error, follow these troubleshooting methods in the given order,
1. Check Cables
Physically inspect the cables of your affected drive or the enclosure for a firm connection. Alternatively, try changing the cable/enclosure or the port. You may also try connecting the drive to a different PC.
2. Make Drive Online
Sometimes, the drive may go offline due to severe corruption, bad sectors, and SMART errors. Follow these steps to make an offline disk online and fix the disk Unknown Not Initialized issue,
- Open Disk Management and right-click on the affected disk
- Choose ‘Reactivate Disk’
If an error appears or you are not able to reactivate the disk via Disk Management, use DISKPART command. Following are the steps to reactivate an offline disk by using DISKPART commands,
- Open Command Prompt, type diskpart, and press ‘’
- Grant admin permission. A new Command Prompt window appears
- Then type the following commands in the given order followed by an ‘Enter’ keypress after each command,
select disk <disknumber>
This command reactivates the disk and marks it online for usage.
3. Install Drivers
A disk may fail to initialize due to driver issues. To fix it, download the updated drivers from your drive manufacturer’s support website and install them on your Windows system. Then restart the PC and check if the drive is accessible.
In case these troubleshooting methods fail to fix the disk ‘Unknown’ and ‘Not Initialized’ error, follow the next steps to resolve the disk error.
Step 1: Initialize the Disk
When troubleshooting doesn’t fix the error, you must initialize the disk. While this will format the drive, formatted data can be recovered with the help of a powerful data recovery software such as Stellar Data Recovery. The steps are as follow,
- Press Windows + X and then click ‘Disk management.’
- Right-click on the drive marked as ‘Unknown Not Initialized’ and choose ‘Initialize Disk.’
- Select the disk you need to initialize and then choose the partition style,
- Choose ‘Master Boot Record (MBR)’ for drives up to 2TB in size (limited to 4 partitions)
- Select ‘GUID Partition Table (GPT)’ for drives larger than 2TB (up to 128 partitions)
- Click ‘OK’ and then right-click the Unallocated space
- Choose ‘New Simple Volume’ and click ‘’
- Click ‘Next’ again and choose a drive letter from the drop-down menu
- Click ‘Next’ and select the NTFS file system if it’s a hard drive
- Click ‘Next’ and then the ‘Finish’ button
That’s it. The drive is now initialized and ready for use. But before you can start using it, recover your lost files by using a data recovery software.
Step 2: Recover Lost Data
After the disk initialization, follow the steps in the video to select, scan, and recover data from your initialized and formatted drive.
After recovery, you can transfer the recovered files back to the formatted drive. And keep a backup copy of all your important files to prevent data loss due to such events.
Never initialize a hard drive unless it’s brand new and doesn’t contain any data. Follow the troubleshooting steps to fix the ‘disk unknown not initialized’ issue. If the troubleshooting step fails to fix the Unknown Not Initialized error, go ahead and initialize the disk, as that’s the only way after troubleshooting to fix the error. Consequently, every bit of data in the drive is lost with disk initialization.
But with the help of a data recovery software such as Stellar Data Recovery, you can recover every bit of recoverable data from your initialized hard drive. This powerful data recovery software can also get back files from formatted, corrupt, and missing drive partitions.