How to Initialize Disk without Losing Data

Jean updated on Nov 18, 2020 to Data Recovery Resouce | 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 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.

To recover data from your disk after initializing:

Step 1. Run data recovery software to scan data.

Select the location of your hard drive/external hard drive. The not initialized partition could be named as "Lost Partition" in the user interface. Click "Scan" to start scanning lost data on the hard drive. 

select a location and click scan

Step 2. Filter wanted files.

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

select and fiter wanted files

Step 3. Preview and recover data.

You can double-click the found files one by one to preview. Afterward, select the items you want to retrieve. Click "Recover", choose a location to save the files, and then click "OK" to start recovering the selected content.

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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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why choose EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard?

"EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is the best we've seen. It's far from perfect, partly because today's advanced disk technology makes data-recovery more difficult than it was with the simpler technology of the past, but it's fast and efficient..."PCMag

"The first thing you'll notice about EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is that its interface is very clear and uncluttered, with only a small collection of self-explanatory controls. You won't find lots of extra options hidden in a system of hidden menus, either; what you see really is what you get."techradar

"Recover lost files, even after deleting a partition or formatting your drive."Macworld

2. Why cannot I recover 2GB data for free?

It is recommended to check the version installed is Free or Trial because they are different versions.

Trial has data preview function but cannot save any files, while the Free version enables to recover 2 GB files. The default free space is 500 MB and you may share the product on social media to get another 1.5 GB.

3. Why cannot the recovered files be opened?

A file is saved as 2 parts on the storage device: directory info (which is comprised by file name, time stamp and size info, etc.) and data content.

If the files with original file names and folder structures cannot be opened, one possible reason is the corrupted directory info. There is still a chance to recover the data content with the RAW Recovery method in our software.

4. Why isn't it suggested to recover the files back to the original drive?

The storage structure of the lost files would be altered or damaged by any changes on the drive. If you save the recovered files back to the same drive, the original data structures and data content would be corrupted or overwritten, which causes permanent data loss. So you should prepare another disk to save the files.

5. How can I check whether my data is recoverable or not before purchase?

The Free version helps you save 2GB files, so verify the recovery quality of our product before purchase.

6. How long does it take to scan the drive?

It strongly depends on the capacity of your hard drive and the performance of your computer. As reference,most drive recoveries can be completed in around 10 to 12 hours for a 1-TB healthy hard drive in general conditions.

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