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The Solution to the Disk Unknown, Not Initialized or Unallocated Issues

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Jun 29, 2023 • Filed to: Answer Hard Drive Problems • Proven solutions

Have you ever faced an issue When you plug in your external hard disk to the computer and find the notification that says that the drive has been successfully installed, but it does not appear on "This PC"?

And when you go to your Window’s disk management utility and see that your disk 1 is unknown, not initialized, unallocated? And wonder, "How do I fix disk 1 unknown is not initialized?"

And also, "Do you fear of losing your data?"

Do not Worry! You can follow our step-by-step solution that will allow you access and will also tell you the reason behind your external hard disk not initialized problem.

We will also guide you through the process of recovering your data if it gets deleted during the repairing process.

Part 1. What Does It Mean to Initialize a Disk?

Initialize a storage device (much like the formatting procedure) is the method to erase the data on the drive and allow it to be workable again if it is not in service before.

Initialization offers you to prepare your external hard disk to accept data by splitting it into two steps.

Through creating Partition on the drive, it performs specific tasks:

1. It offers you to create a Partition Table to a particular location of your hard drive in both MBR and GPT style.

2. Through the initializing process, you can form up to four different MBR partitions.

Through this step, you can perform the following steps:

1. Assign a new letter to your drive.

2. Give a new file support system to each of the newly created partitions.

3. Erase irrelevant data.

Generally, your Windows PC will only ask you to initialize a disk, which hasn’t been used at all. Moreover, Windows generates the "initialize" function request only when it fails to find the valid partition table. However, it will also initialize a faulty hard drive to create new partitions to fix the issues.

Part 2. Why Disk Unknown, Not Initialized, Unallocated Error Occur?

The Disk "not initialized" issue typically occurs unexpectedly on your PC, and it is caused by several reasons, which also involves our casual usage of the external storage device.

When this sort of issue occurs, your computer may show your external hard drive, but it will not authorize access, and it will also refuse to acknowledge the data inside. In this section, we will discuss some of the reasons which cause your drive to be severely unresponsive.


1. Virus or Malware: We all know how deep a virus can damage your computer or anything that comes in contact with it (External Hard Disk). This virus attack can be the sole perpetrator of your computer’s problems. It is advised that you install a powerful anti-virus program on your PC to avoid any inconvenience.

2. Bad sectors: One of the most common reasons behind the failure of an external hard drive is the presence of bad sectors, which can cause the "read/write" issues.

3. The Casual Usage of Hardware: It is highly recommended that before unplugging the storage device, you select the "Safely Remove Hardware and Eject Media" option from the taskbar’s notification area. It is also advised that you do not remove the device in the middle of data transfer.


4. Mechanical Failure: If you notice any clicking sound inside the drive and see if your disk is freezing continuously. There may be an internal mechanical failure causing the drive to malfunction.

5. Power Cable/USB Port: It is highly recommended that you check the USB port and the condition of your data cable before using the storage device. Your system’s BIOS will not detect the hard drive if there is a problem with the power cable.

Part 3. How to Fix Disk Unknown, Not Initialized, Unallocated Problem:

If the issue with the hard drive remains the same even after plugging it in on a different computer or after Unplugging/Replugging the disk from the same PC. And if it still shows the message that "your disk is unknown and not initialized" then follow our list of solutions that could help you in accessing the external Hard Drive or recover the data inside during the process.

Video tutorial: Fix Unallocated Hard Drive in Windows

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Solution 1. Restart your PC:

Most of the computer’s hardware issues are resolved after restarting the computer. Sometimes the computer’s BIOS fails to read the drive, for that turning the PC off and starting it again is one of the easiest and quickest ploys that may fix your hardware-related problems. You can follow the procedure below to perform this quick fix.


Solution 2. Initialize the External Hard Disk on the PC:

While checking the status of the drive through the disk management utility, if you find unallocated space right next to your external disk icon, then you must perform the initialization process on the device. Follow our step-by-step guide to initialize the drive.



If you intend to use your drive on various versions of the Windows operating system, then we may suggest that you choose the MBR partition style. GPT is only supported on Windows 10 and isn’t available on older versions of Windows.

Solution 3. Rebuild MBR:

What is MBR:

MRB or Master Boot Record is a partition and the first sector of the computer hard drive that tells the PC how the storage drive is partitioned. It is also very susceptible to boot sector viruses that can corrupt or remove the MBR on your external hard drive, thus causing the "disk not initialized and unallocated" problem. The older Master Boot Record (MBR) is used on 32-bit older PCs that run Windows XP/7/8, and on removable drives such as memory cards, etc. In this day and age, GPT is more strong and works for drives bigger than 2 TB storage.

We can fix the issue by rebuilding the MBR through the Windows’ command prompt utility.

bootrec.exe /fixmbr

bootrec.exe /fixboot

bootrec.exe /rebuildbcd


Solution 4. Run CHKDSK to Repair Disk and Clean the Drive:

You can use the CHKDSK facility, which scans the integrity of the file system of your external hard drive by detecting its good and the bad sectors. You can utilize this feature by using the command prompt on your PC. Follow our steps to run the command on the Windows cmd utility.

chkdsk J: /r /f where J is the external hard drive letter and /r & /f are the parameters of CHKDSK.

You can also clean the disk by using the command prompt if you do not intend to retain the data on your hard drive. Here are the steps:


Solution 5. How to Recover Data from Hard Drive that is not initialized?

If none of the above solutions works for you, then you should perform the data recovery operation on your external hard drive and retrieve all the important files. You can use the Recoverit Data Recovery program for Windows by Wondershare to retrieve the necessary data, which performs at 96% efficiency and offers recovery in no time.

You are required to follow our three-step process to recover deleted files after installing the app.

1. Select the Location:

To initialize the recovery process through Recoverit, you are needed to run it by following the steps below:


2. The Scanning Procedure:


3. Recover the Lost Data:


Closing Words:

You never know the time and the reason behind the failure of the system’s hardware to perform its functions. There can be multiple smaller factors behind the drive, not getting initialized by the PC.

It is entirely up to you to provide a healthy environment to your machine and enable its full capabilities. In this article, we have discussed the causes behind such an error and the possible solutions to fix the problem with the external hard disk. One of them is the method to recover files by using the Recoverit Data Recovery program if you feel the need to access your data.

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