How to Initialize Disk without Losing Data In 3 Procedures

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.

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Table of Contents

Hard Drive Showing Unknown, Not Initialized

"Disk (0, 1, 2...), unknown, not initialized and unallocated" is one of the common hard disk errors that make us upset. When a hard drive becomes uninitialized, you can no longer access data there. Then, how to initialize disk without losing data becomes a problem. You may see a disk showing "Unknown, Not Initialized" in two situations:

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

Hard Drive Not Initialized

If you have a new disk that shows up as "Not Initialized", you can initialize the hard drive without worrying about data loss. However, a disk that has been used for a period of time may also become "Not Initialized". In such a case, most users have files or folders stored in the disk and are eager to know whether initializing a disk erase the data on it.

What Does Initialize Disk Mean?

When adding a brand new disk to your PC, it will not show up in File Explorer immediately. You need to manually initialize the newly-added hard drive before working with it. 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.

Used disks with a bunch of data sometimes also need to be initialized. This is due to a number of system errors. In this case, the question arises, what about the existing data? On this page, you will find all you need.

Does Initializing a Disk Erase Data?

The first sector of an MBR or GPT disk is MBR (Master Boot Record). When MBR on your disk is corrupted, you will see your disk showing up as "Unknown, Not Initialized". Thus, initializing a disk means to rebuild MBR on the disk, which will NOT ERASE DATA on your disk.

However, only initializing the disk won't make the disk usable again. You need to further partition and format the drive, which will surely ERASE your disk data. That's why you may be told by others that initializing a disk will erase data on it.

How to Initialize Disk Without Losing Data?

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

  • Initialized the disk
  • Recover data from the hard drive
  • Partition and then format the disk to make it ready for data storage

Procedure 1. Initialize the Disk

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

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.

Initialize Disk in Disk Management

Procedure 2. Recover Data from the Disk

After initializing the disk, you may notice the status of the hard drive is not "Not Initialized" anymore but the layout shows as "Unallocated", which means the disk is still inaccessible. Before creating a new volume on the drive, you need to recover data from the disk.

Here we recommend using hard drive recovery software - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. It can not only perform common deleted file recovery, formatted data recovery, and RAW drive recovery but also recover data from inaccessible disks, like in this case.

Download EaseUS Data Recovery first and read on to get more details.

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To recover data from your disk after initializing:

Step 1. Select the Non-initialized Drive

The uninitialized partition could be named as "Lost Partition" in the user interface. Click "Scan" to start scanning lost data on the hard drive. 

select the uninitialized partition

Step 2. Filter The Files You Want

Once the scanning process completes, you can quickly find your lost files by clicking "Filter" and "Search".

select and fiter wanted files

Step 3. Recover Lost Data

Select the files you want and click "Recover" to restore files from the hard drive.

recover files from initialized drive

You can also try to rescue lost, deleted and corrupted data with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, which has helped millions of users with successful data recovery from unrecognized hard disk, unallocated hard drive partition, RAW hard drive, formatted hard drive, virus-infected hard drive and more. When your hard drive data lost after fixing the drive that becomes unknown, not initialized, or unallocated, you can always try it to bring lost data back with simple steps.

Do You Need Specialized Data Recovery Services?
You may need further help for tough data loss situations like reformatting drive, RAW disk, partition loss, repartition failures and system boot error. Consult with EaseUS Data Recovery Experts for cost-efficient one-on-one manual recovery service. They could offer the following services after FREE diagnosis:
1. Unformat the drive
2. Repair the RAID, RAW disk or operating system
3. Recover lost partition (the one that cannot be recovered by software)

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.

Partition and Format the Disk

The Bottom Line

Will initializing 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 existing on your hard drive, using data recovery software is necessary.

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Updated by Roxanne

Roxanne is one of the main contributors to EaseUS and has created multiple posts on digital devices like PCs, Mobile phones, tablets, Mac, etc. She loves to share ideas with people of the same interest.

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Written by Jean

Author Jean has been writing tech articles since she was graduated from university. She has been part of the EaseUS team for over 5 years. Her special focuses are data recovery, disk partitioning, data space optimization, data backup and Mac OS. By the way, she's an aviation fan!

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