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Full Guides: Initialize a Hard Drive on Windows 10/11

What should you do when you want to initialize a hard drive? What tools should you use? Don't worry; you can find reliable tools and step-by-step guides in this article.

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Content

Page Table of Contents

Updated by

Tracy King

Written by

Sherly

Updated on Apr 19, 2024

Overview of how to initialize a hard drive:

⚙️Complex Level Low, step-by-step guide for beginners
⏱️Duration 3-5 Minutes
💻Applies to Initialize a hard drive on Windows 11/10/8/7
✏️Ways

Initialize a Hard Drive via EaseUS Partition Master - Easiest

Initialize a Hard Drive via Disk Management - Medium

Initialize a Hard Drive via CMD - Difficult

When you connect or install a new HDD, you may find that Windows File Explorer doesn't show it. Although it is visible in BIOS/UEFI, it remains hidden in File Explorer. This is because a new hard drive needs to be initialized before it can be used on a Windows computer. In this article, EaseUS will provide three effective and safe methods (step-by-step guide) to help you initialize hard drives or new hard drives in Windows 11/10/8/7. Let's learn how.

Important
Before you start, you need to determine whether you want to initialize the hard drive to GPT or MBR. Click this link to learn what the difference is between MBR and GPT: MBR VS GPT

🥇Initialize a Hard Drive via EaseUS Partition Master - Easiest

If you are new to computers, the best and safest way to initialize your hard drive is with the easy-to-use disk management software EaseUS Partition Master. This is a professional initialization tool with a clear interface. According to your needs, you can freely initialize the hard disk as MBR or GPT. And during the initialization process, you don't need to enter any commands, so with this tool, you can safely initialize the hard disk without any data loss. Download it to try.

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Learn more about EaseUS Partition Master:

  • Nice Compatibility: Windows 11/10, Windows 8/7, and Windows XP/Vista.
  • Storage Device Support: Initialize HDDs, new HDDs, external hard drives, SSDs, SD cards, etc.
  • Interface: Well-organized and clear
  • Complex Level: Low, easy to use for beginners

Now, let's see how to use EaseUS Partition Master to initialize HDDs:

Step 1. Open EaseUS Partition Master and got to Partition Manager.

Step 2. Right-click the target disk - HDD or SSD and select "Initialize to MBR" or "Initialize to GPT". Click "Execute Task" and "Apply" to save the changes.

0:00-0:18 Initialize to MBR; 0:19-0:44 Initialize to GPT;

Besides, EaseUS Partition Master has other features to manage a hard drive. Here is a list for you:

Download this tool to manage your hard drives; click the blue button below to try.

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🥈Initialize a Hard Drive via Disk Management - Medium

Disk Management is a Windows program that allows users to manage hard disks and partitions. It can also help initialize hard drives. You can initialize your HDD using Windows Disk Management by following the instructions below.

Step 1. Press the Windows key + R to open the Run dialog; type diskmgmt.msc and press OK to open the Disk Management window.

Step 2. Right-click on the hard drive that needs to be initialized and click the Initialize Disk option from the context menu.

disk management initialize a hard drive

💡Note: If your HDD is marked Offline, right-click on it once and select Online.

Step 3. In the Initialize Disk popup, select your desired disk format (MBR or GPT) and click OK to initialize the HDD.

If you are unable to initialize a hard drive in Disk Management for some reason, the following page can help you with multiple practical solutions.

cant-initialize-disk

Can't Initialize Disk on Windows 11/10/8/7 [Why & How to Fix]

'Can't initialize disk in Disk Management' has been commonly discussed by Windows users. If you are one of the victims, check here. This page will offer you a few solutions to solve the problem. Read more >>

🥉Initialize a Hard Drive via CMD - Difficult

If you have much computing experience and are good at using the Command Prompt, you can try this method to initialize a hard drive. Note that you need to back up important in advance to avoid unnecessary data loss.

Step 1. Press Win+R and open a "Run" dialog box; type: diskpart in the Run box and hit "Enter."

Step 2. Enter the following commands in CMD and hit the Enter key after typing each command.

  • list disk
  • select disk 1
  • clean
  • convert gpt (you can type convert mbr if you want to initialize the HDD to the MBR style.)
  • create partition primary
  • format quick fs=ntfs (Click this link to learn more about format quick fs=ntfs command)
  • assign
  • exit

cmd initialize ssd

You've finished the HDD initialize process with the above commands. CMD may be difficult, especially when you are not familiar with command lines. Turning to Way 1 is a better choice.

Extended Reading: How to Fix Disk Unknown Not Initialized Error.

Are the three ways helpful? If they are, share this article to let more people learn how to initialize an HDD to GPT or MBR.

 

Why Initialize a Hard Drive

Why does the Windows system keep asking you or forcing you to initialize your HDD? Here are reasons why HDDs must be initialized and errors that result from uninitialized HDDs:

  • The new HDD does not show up on the PC:

When you plug a brand new HDD into your PC, you may immediately encounter the "The disk does not show up in Disk Management/This PC/Computer" error. In this case, you must initialize it to make it instrumental.

  • Logical Disk Manager cannot access the disk because it is not initialized:

Sometimes, if the hard disk is not initialized as MBR or GPT, you may be warned, "You must initialize the disk before Logical Disk Manager can access it."

  • Error messages such as "Disk 0 is unknown, uninitialized, unallocated" may pop up if you try to turn on a hard drive.

This issue can occur on all Windows systems, such as Windows 10/8/7, and the only way to do it is to fix the "disk not initialized" error.

Hence, based on these reasons, it's necessary to initialize an HDD before we use it. Use the ways above to try. By the way, if you are using an SSD, click the following link to try.

related articles

How to Initialize SSD in Windows 10/8/7

This page tells you how to initialize SSD in Windows 10/8/7 using Disk Management, Diskpart commands, and other tools.

initialize an ssd

Conclusion

Initializing HDDs is one of the essential tasks. Knowing how to initialize an HDD on Windows can easily fix uninitialized issues. Use 3rd party software (recommended), Disk Management, and DiskPart to initialize HDD in Windows 11, 10, 8, and 7. This process can be done in just a few steps.

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Initialize a Hard Drive FAQs

Windows can't detect or store files on a hard drive that is uninitialized. Hence, it's important to initialize a hard drive into the target partition style. Read the questions and answers below to learn more:

1. What does it mean to initialize a hard drive?

Everything on the hard drive is deleted and erased when it is initialized. The hard drive is now ready for Windows to use. Your drive can be formatted when you initialize it, after which you can put/store files on it. And don't forget to back up your files in advance to avoid data loss.

2. How do I initialize my hard drive in Windows 10?

Follow the steps below to initialize your hard drive:

Step 1. Open Disk Management with administrator privileges: In the search box of your Windows PC, type disk management. Select and hold (or right-click) Disk Management, then select Run as Administrator > Yes.

Step 2. In Disk Management, select and hold (or right-click) the disk you want to initialize, then choose Initialize Disk. If the disk is shown as Offline, first select and hold (or right-click) the disk, then select Online.

Step 3. In the Initialize Disk dialog, after making sure you have selected the correct disk, select OK to accept the default partition style. (Or you can freely choose MBR or GPT.)

3. Should I initialize the disk as MBR or GPT?

It depends on your needs. If your disk is 2 TB or less, select MBR when initializing the drive for the first time. Select GPT if the hard drive is larger than 2 TB. Also, choose a GPT disk as your system disk if you want faster boot times, or choose MBR if your computer is BIOS-based.

How Can We Help You

About the Author

Updated by Tracy King

Tracy became a member of the EaseUS content team in 2013. Being a technical writer for over 10 years, she is enthusiastic about sharing tips to assist readers in resolving complex issues in disk management, file transfer, PC & Mac performance optimization, etc., like an expert.

Read full bio

Written by Sherly

Sherly joined EaseUS in 2022 and she has always loved writing articles and enjoys the fun they bring. She receives professional training here, focusing on product performance and other relative knowledge. She has written over 200 articles to help people overcome computing issues.

Read full bio

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