Does Initializing a Disk Erase Data, Yes or No?

Jean updated on Nov 05, 2020 to Data Recovery Resouce | How-to Articles

Does initializing a disk erase data? Or, will initializing a disk format it? On this page, we'll explain what happens when you initialize a disk and how to fix disk initialization. Don't worry if you lost data on the disk, reliable EaseUS data recovery software will help.

Initializing disk is a must-be process after you install a new hard drive on the computer. However, sometimes, the old hard drive may suddenly show not initialized, requesting for initialization. What concerns people the most is whether initializing disk will erase a disk data.

On this page, you'll learn everything about disk initialization. And you will find answers to all your questions in the following parts.

Does Initializing a Disk Erase Data
Will Initializing a Disk Erase Data
Fix Disk Initialization: Make Initialized Hard Drive Work Again, No Data Loss

Case - If I Initialize a Disk, Will It Be Erased

"What does initialization affect a hard disk? While using the Windows disk management utility, I received the instruction showing as 'You must initialize a disk before Logical Disk Manager can access it'. The disk is NTFS with no operating system on it.

However, I have saved lots of files on it. I'd like to know if I initialize the disk, will it be erased? I am not expecting any data loss on it."

Initialize disk

You may have the same confusion as the user above when you are requested to initialize a disk. Generally, Windows operating system would pop up the initializing disk request to two types of hard disk:

1. A Brand New Disk

2. Old Hard Drive Shows "Unknown, Not Initialized" Suddenly

If your disk is new and unformatted, you can initialize it directly without worrying about data loss.

However, if the disk has files existing on it, you should understand what does disk initialization mean and will initializing a disk erase the data.

Follow the next part, your doubts will get released.

Does Initializing a Disk Erase Data

In this part, you'll get answers to the following three questions that most of the hard disk users may also interest in:

  1. What does it mean to initialize a disk
  2. What happens when you initialize a disk

Initializing disk is a process of building or rebuilding MBR, Master Boot Record, the first sector of a hard drive. MBR stores information to load logical partitions and even system files on that storage medium. To do so, you'll need to use Windows disk management to initialize the disk. A third-party disk initialization tool can also work.

So what happens while initializing a disk? During the disk initialization process, Windows disk management or third-party tool will re-write the 0 sectors in the MBR partition table so as to allow you to create logical partitions on the drive.

Will Initializing a Disk Erase Data

As the disk initializing process only affects 0 sectors in MBR, thus, the answer to "Will initializing a disk erase data" is NO. Initializing disk won't erase data on the hard drive. 

If someone says "Initializing a disk erases everything on it", it's not real. If some of you see no files appear after initializing a used disk, it's not the operation but your hard drive is still unallocated. You have to create partitions on the drive so to make it visible again.  

So how to fix the file not visible issue after disk initialization? Check the next part, you'll get everything back on your disk.

Fix Disk Initialization: Make Initialized Hard Drive Work Again, No Data Loss

Whether your disk is brand new or used, as long as the computer request initialization, follow the process presented here. You'll fix the disk initialization issue, making your disk work normally again without losing any data. 

Note: If your disk is brand new, finish Procedure 1 and jump to Procedure 3.

Procedure 1. Initialize Disk using Disk Management

So how to initialize a disk? You can either use Windows Disk Management or third-party free partition manager for help.

Here we will show you how to execute disk initialization in Disk Management:

Step 1. Press Windows + X keys, click "Disk Management". 

Step 2. Locate the target disk, if it shows "Offline", right-click and choose "Online" first.

Step 3. Then right-click the not initialized disk and choose "Initialize Disk".

Step 4. Set GPT or MBR as the partition style, click "OK" to start initializing the disk.

Initialize Disk

After this, your disk is initialized and the Unknown, Not Initialized symbol will disappear. The disk will display as "Basic".

But if your disk still shows as Not Initialized or Unknow, you can try to update the disk driver or change its connection cable to try to fix this issue. The last option is to send your disk to its manufacturer center or a disk repair center for help.  

Don't worry if you set a wrong partition style while initializing a disk. You can convert disk between MBR and GPT without losing your files after the disk initialization.
Reliable partition manager software - EaseuS Partition Master can help.

Procedure 2. Recover Data from the Disk

This is a key point for people whose old disk displaying not initialized with important data saved on it. Although the disk is initialized, it is still inaccessible. 

You still cannot access or see any files on the drive. Reliable hard drive recovery software - EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can help. It enables you to fully scan the whole empty drive and find all your data with its Quick and Deep scan modes.

Follow the steps below to recover data from the initialized disk:

Step 1. Run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard, choose your HDD partition (according to its drive letter or partition label) where you lost data and click "Scan".

select your hdd and click scan

Step 2. When the scanning finishes, find lost HDD files in "Deleted Files" or "Lost Files" and double-click to preview them.

You can also use Filter or Search for quick access to your lost files via file types or file names. 

scan the lost data on the hdd

Step 3.  Select all the desired items, files and click "Recover" to save the found HDD partition data to another safe location.

select files and click recover

Procedure 3. Partition Disk - Make Hard Drive Visible

Now, it's time to make your initialized disk visible. Windows Disk Management can partition and set your disk format so as to it show up and work normally again on your computer.

Let's start partition the disk:

Step 1. Press Windows + X keys, click "Disk Management" to open it.

Step 2. Right-click the unallocated space on your disk, choose "New Simple Volume..."

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

Step 4. Set the size and the drive letter to the new volume, click "Next".

Step 5.  Then set NTFS as the file system, click "Next" and "Finish" to complete.

Create partition and format disk

You can repeat the process to create more partitions on the initialized disk. After this, you can use the drive as a system or data disk on your computer.

The Bottom Line

This page answers the questions related to disk initialization. As for the most concerned question - "does initializing a disk erase data", the answer is no.

Initializing disk only affects the MBR 0 sectors, the data saved on the drive are still there. As for the reason why saved data on the initialized disk is invisible, it is because the drive is unallocated.

To fix this issue, you need to first use EaseUS data recovery software to restore the data from the disk first. Then create new partitions on the drive, making it accessible again.

Last, although initializing disk will not erase data nor format the disk, in order to protect your precious data, please remember to back up the disk regularly. You can either choose to copy files as a backup or use automatic file backup software for help. 

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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

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"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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