How to solve the “Disk Unknown not Initialized” problem in Windows 10?

Have you ever encountered a problem where you plug an external hard drive into your computer and find a notification that the drive was successfully installed, but it doesn’t show up on “This PC”?

And when you see in Windows Disk Management that your drive 1 is unknown, uninitialized, or unallocated? And ask yourself: “How do you fix unknown disk 1 uninitialized?” Also, “Are you afraid of losing your data?”

Don’t worry! You can follow our step-by-step solution that will give you access as well as tell you the cause of your uninitialized external hard drive problem.


What does it mean to initialize a hard drive?

What does it mean to initialize a hard drive?

Initializing a storage device (similar to formatting) is a way to erase data on a drive and return it to a working state when it has not been used before.

Initialization makes it possible to prepare the external hard disk drive for data storage by dividing it into two steps.

The first is partitioning :
Creating a partition on the disk allows you to perform certain tasks:

  • Offers to create a partition table in a specific location on the hard disk in MBR and GPT style.
  • Up to four different MBR partitions can be formed during the initialization process.
  • The second step is to format the newly created partitions.

With this step you can do the following:

  1. Assign a new letter to your disk.
  2. Give each newly created partition a new support file system.
  3. Delete irrelevant data.

Normally, a Windows PC prompts you to initialize only a disk that has not been used at all. In addition, Windows generates a boot prompt only if it cannot find a valid partition table. However, it also initializes a bad disk to create new partitions to solve problems.


What causes the “Uninitialized Unknown Disk” problem in Windows 10

What causes the "Uninitialized Unknown Disk" problem in Windows 10

The “Uninitialized Unknown Disk” problem usually occurs unexpectedly in all versions of Windows, including Windows 10, 8, and 7, and worries many users. In this case, the external hard drive may display “unallocated space” or nothing about the capacity of the hard drive in Disk Management, so you can’t open and access the data on the drive.

In both situations, though, the hard drive displays “Unknown, Uninitialized”. They show different information about the capacity of the hard disk, which means that they are caused by different reasons.

If “Unknown, Uninitialized Disk” is followed by “Unallocated”, the cause is probably damage to the MBR on the hard disk. The MBR, Master Boot Record, is the first sector on an MBR or GPT hard disk. It provides information for booting Windows and partitioning the hard disk. Thus, if it is damaged, you are bound to encounter problems, including an “uninitialized” display.

However, if Hard Disk 1, 2, or any other hard disk drive displays an “Uninitialized” display without any hard disk memory information, the cause may be a connectivity problem, a driver problem, or physical damage to the hard disk.


How to solve the “Uninitialized Unknown Hard Disk Drive” problem in Windows 10

How to solve the "Uninitialized Unknown Hard Disk Drive" problem in Windows 10

Initialize the hard drive

If it is an uninitialized hard drive, the first thing you can do is to initialize the hard drive. Start Disk Management by right-clicking on “My Computer” and selecting “Manage”. You can also press the “Win + R” keys and type “compmgmt.msc” to start the partition management tool.

Now find the external hard drive connected to THIS computer. You will see that this unknown disk is marked as “unallocated”. If there are no important files on this external hard disk, you can initialize it without losing data. In Windows 10, initializing the disk to MBR or GPT should solve this problem directly.

Tip: What happens when I initialize a hard drive? Initializing a disk can erase all data and lose it. Therefore, if you have a large amount of data stored on an external hard disk, this initialization is not recommended.

Therefore, because of the impact of data loss, it is not always the best solution.

Recover MBR

MBR, short for Master Boot Record, is a special type of boot sector at the beginning of a hard drive. It can be corrupted for many reasons, including infection by malware, accidental power failure, or malfunction.

If the MBR is damaged, the operating system does not know where to access its data. In this case, the problem “Unknown external hard drive 1 not initialized” may occur. To solve this problem, you must recreate the MBR for your hard drive.

If this method also does not solve the problem – Western Digital Uninitialized Unknown Disk 1, try another solution as follows.

Rebuild the partition

MBR recovery does not always completely solve the “uninitialized unknown disk” problem. If you notice in Disk Management that the disk shows unallocated space, just try rebuilding the partition.

Note: Do not create a new partition on an unallocated disk, otherwise it will be very difficult to recover the partition.

Recovering data from an unknown disk

What to do if a large amount of important data is stored on a hard disk with lost or deleted partitions and Partition Recovery cannot help?

Don’t panic! Data on an external hard drive can be recovered using a third-party program. It offers a “data recovery” feature that allows you to quickly recover data with a simple click when a hard disk drive is not initialized.

If Disk Management cannot display information about that hard disk or its capacity, it may cause problems with the hard disk or cartridge. Operations may be blocked by the “External hard disk drive not initialized I/O” error.

Turn off the computer and remove the battery

It is possible that the “Uninitialized Unknown Disk Not Size” error may be caused by a problem with the PC system board. Just try removing the battery to solve the problem:

  1. Turn off the computer.
  2. Disconnect the data and power cables from the problem drive.
  3. Remove the CMOS battery for another 10 seconds.
  4. Reinstall the CMOS battery.
  5. Turn the computer on.
  6. Turn off the computer.
  7. Reconnect the data and power cables of the problem drive.
  8. Turn the computer on.

If this method does not work, please read the following.

Replace the defective external hard drive

Usually, the drive’s manual cannot retrieve information or capacity from an unknown or uninitialized drive. This problem can persist even when you connect the hard drive to another computer.

In this case, you should remove the hard disk and send it to a specialist for an inspection. If there is a physical defect, the only solution to the unknown uninitialized size problem is to throw it away and replace the bad external hard drive.

In addition, there are still some problems with hard drive management, such as not recognizing the hard drive and lack of hard drive space, the following two articles may be helpful.



In this blog, we have discussed what you can do if there is a “Disk Unknown Not Initialized” error on your system or external drive. Applying the above-mentioned methods can help fix the error. However, methods such as the Diskpart utility or unallocated space recovery will force you to format the disk, which will erase the data stored on it. To avoid losing data on the disk, you can use third-party data recovery software. Third-party software can effectively decompress lost files, folders, documents, photos, etc.


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Simply right-click on "My Computer" -> "Manage" to start Disk Management.
  2. Here, right-click on the disk and then click on "Initialize Disk".
  3. In the dialog box, select the disk(s) you want to initialize and select the MBR or GPT partition style. After initializing the hard drive, you can now recover data from the hard drive.

  1. Make sure that the hard drive is connected to the network. Right-click on the Start button and select Disk Management.
  2. Run a test on the hard drive. If the hard drive is still not initialized, you need to run a disk test.
  3. Try to repair the drive.
  4. Initialize the drive.

Start the program, select the uninitialized drive, and then click "Scan". The next screen displays all the files that can be recovered from the drive. Select the files that you want to recover and click the Recover button.

The "Uninitialized Unknown Disk" error can occur because a hard drive partition has been lost or deleted. If there is no space on the unknown external uninitialized hard disk, you can check if the hard disk has damaged sectors that could cause the error.