Initialize Disk Without Losing Data in Windows 10/11

Jean updated on May 21, 2024 to Data Recovery Resource | How-to Articles

The hard drive may suddenly become "Unknown Not Initialized" in Disk Management. When a hard drive is not initialized, you are unable to open the disk and access the files on it. Then "Does initializing a disk erase data?" becomes users' concern. Don't worry. We will show you how to initialize a disk without losing data using EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.

Hard Drive Showing Unknown, Not Initialized

"Disk (0, 1, 2...), unknown, not initialized and unallocated" is a common hard disk error that upsets us. You can no longer access data when a hard drive becomes uninitialized. Then, how to initialize disk without losing data becomes a problem. You may see a disk showing "Disk Unknown, Not Initialized" in two situations:

  • The disk is brand new. You need to initialize the disk to partition it. Afterward, you must format the partition to prepare it for data storage.
  • The disk has been used for a period of time and suddenly becomes "Not Initialized".

What Does Initialize Disk Mean

When adding a brand new disk to your PC, it will show up as "Not Initialized" and won't appear in File Explorer immediately. You need to manually initialize the newly-added hard drive before working with it without worrying about data loss. Here is the detailed information on initializing a new disk from Microsoft. 

However, a disk that has been used for a period of time may also become "Not Initialized". This is due to a number of system errors. In such a case, most users have files or folders stored in the disk and are eager to know whether initializing a disk erases its data.

Does Initializing a Disk Erase Data

Will initializing a drive erase data? Initializing a disk erases everything on it and prepares it for use by Windows, after which you can format it and then store files on it. That is to say. You will lose your data during the disk initialization and formatting.

But don't panic. If you want to know how to initialize a disk without losing data, you've come to the right place. This article will show you the full steps to initialize your hard drive in a data-secure way. You can first recover data from an uninitialized disk with powerful file recovery software, then initialize your disk safely. 

Now you know that disk initialization erases and delete data. Share it on your social media platforms to spread the word.


How to Initialize Disk Without Losing Data (3 Steps)

Based on the information given above, the correct procedures to handle a disk that is not initialized without losing data are:

1️⃣First, recover data Recover data from the not initialized hard drive to keep data safe. 
2️⃣Second, initialize disk Initialize disk to MBR/GPT. See MBR VS GPT - difference.
3️⃣Third, format hard drive Create new simple volumes on the drive.

Procedure 1. Recover Data from Uninitialized Disk First

You may notice the hard drive status is not "Not Initialized" and "Unallocated", which means the disk is inaccessible and unusable. Before initializing and creating a new volume on the drive, you need to recover data from the disk in advance to protect your crucial files with a data recovery tool.

We recommend you try EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. It can perfectly perform deleted file recovery, formatted data recovery, RAW drive recovery, and recover data from inaccessible disks, like in this case.

Download EaseUS data recovery program and follow the steps below to restore your data. 

Step 1. Select and scan the lost partition

Launch EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, select "Lost Partition" and click "Search for Lost Data" to search for all the lost data. If there are many lost partitions, you can identify them through its partition size.

Note: Since the Windows system doesn't support the Linux file system, the Ext2 or Ext3 partition will be recognized as lost partition with no drive letter in the software. If you want to recover data from Ext2/Ext3 partition, you can follow these steps.

Step 2. Filter the scanned results

Because there will be a lot of scanned files, you can choose a file category for quick filtering, such as Pictures, Videos, Documents, Audio, and Others. Or if you remember the file name, you can just look it up in the search box in the upper right corner.

Step 3. Preview and recover data from the lost partition

Before recovery, you can preview the file to make sure it is the data you need. Choose all the files you need and click "Recover" to restore them. Choose a storage location (including cloud storage, such as OneDrive, Google Drive, etc.), and click "Save" to save your recovered files.

You can also try to rescue lost, deleted, and corrupted data with EaseUS data recovery services, which has helped millions of users to recover data from hard disk which is not detecting, or restore files from unallocated hard drive partition, RAW hard drive, formatted hard drive, virus-infected hard drive and more.

When your hard drive data is lost after fixing the drive that becomes unknown, not initialized, or unallocated, you can always try to bring lost data back with simple steps.

Consult with EaseUS Data Recovery Experts for one-on-one manual recovery service. We could offer the following services after FREE diagnosis:

  • Repair corrupted RAID structure, unbootable Windows OS, and corrupted virtual disk file (.vmdk, .vhd, .vhdx, etc.)
  • Recover/repair lost partition and re-partitioned drive
  • Unformat the hard drive and fix RAW drive (BitLocker encrypted drive)
  • Fix disks that become GPT-protected partitions

Procedure 2. Initialize Disk MBR or GPT

Now that you've retrieved your files, you can start initializing the disk safely.

Step 1. Press the Win+R keys to start the Run dialog box. Type diskmgmt.msc and press Enter. Disk Management will open.

Step 2. Right-click the disk showing "Not Initialized" and choose "Initialize Disk"

Step 3. In the "Initialize Disk" windows, you need to choose a partition style for the disk, MBR or GPT. Then click "OK" to continue.

Procedure 3. Partition and Format the Disk

Now you can create new volumes on your disk without worrying about losing all your files.

Step 1. Right-click "This PC" and choose "Manage" > "Disk Management".

Step 2. Right-click the unallocated space and choose "New Simple Volume..."

Step 3. In New Simple Volume Wizard, click "Next" to continue.

Step 4. Follow the wizard to specify the volume size, assign a drive letter to the volume, and then format the partition.

The Bottom Line

Will initializing the disk erase data on it? The answer is both "Yes" and "No". Solely initializing a disk won't erase its data. But in order to use the disk, you need to further partition and format the disk, which will cause data loss. Thus, if you don't want to lose files on your hard drive, EaseUS data recovery software is necessary.

Share this tutorial on your social media accounts if you found it helpful.


Initialize Disk Without Losing Data FAQs

Have you learned how to initialize disks without losing data? You will learn more in this part by reading the following answers:

Can I initialize a hard drive without losing data?

You can initialize a hard drive without losing data by following this tutorial:

  1. 1. Open Disk Management on your PC.
  2. 2. Initialize the hard drive by right-clicking the disk.
  3. 3. Choose a partition style.
  4. 4. Recover data from the hard drive.
  5. 5. Recreate the partitions and format the disk.

Does Initializing a Disk Erase Data?

When you need to install a new hard drive on your computer, you will be told to initialize the hard drive first. Does initializing a disk erase data? Initializing a disk will not affect any sectors in the MBR partition table, so initializing a hard drive will not erase data.

Should I initialize the hard drive MBR or GPT?

If you have a hard drive that you would like to use and it is 2 TB or smaller, select MBR when you initialize the hard drive for the first time. If you have a hard drive that you would like to use but not boot from and it is larger than 2 TB, select GPT (GUID).

Can I recover data after initializing the hard drive?

Yes, you can recover data after initializing the hard drive with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard.

  1. 1. Launch this hard drive recovery tool and scan the target hard drive.
  2. 2. Filter the files and select every file you want to recover.
  3. 3. Click "Recover" to get back everything you want.