[11 Hacks] Initialize Disk Without Losing Data In Windows 10/8/7

The initialize disk issue happens to most of the Windows systems, most probably on the upgraded or the latest Windows 10 PCs. Hence, an uninitialized disk is a very common problem that affects even the removable external hard drives as well. But, you need to worry, because in this article, you will learn how to initialize disk without losing data windows 10 & recover lost data due to an uninitialized disk.

Now, read further in detail…

What Does Initialize Disk Mean?

When the MBR on your hard disk is corrupted or damaged, you’ll see your hard disk showing up as “Unknown or Not Initialized” error. Therefore, an initializing disk means to rebuild MBR (Master Boot Record) on a disk that will not delete data on your hard disk.

Due to this issue, you need to further partition and format the hard drive, which will surely remove your disk data. However, if you want to initialize disk without losing data, then read this post till the end to know the perfect solutions to solve SD card or hard disk not initialized I/O error.

Why My Hard Disk Became Unknown And Not Initialized?

Below I have mentioned the major reasons due to which not initialized or disk not initialized I/O error takes place.

  • Because of Virus/malware attack
  • The hard disk is new and has never been connected to a PC.
  • Due to corrupt MBR
  • The hard drive is damaged, corrupt or faulty.
  • The hard disk has a non-standard partition configuration that causes migration between different storage controllers.
  • When the Windows fail to get a valid partition table in a hard disk.
  • Other errors and issues in a removable hard disk.

So, What to Do? How to Deal With The Situation?

Well, an adequate tactic to resolve initialize disk without losing data windows 10 is to backup the data and then initialize it. Or apart from this, you can simply go through the fixes I am going to mention in the below section.

What To Do If the Data Is Invisible?

When your data is not visible to you then it must be deleted. The best suggestion, in such a situation, is that you can try the External Hard Drive Recovery Tool. This tool is able to restore stuff from not initialized hard drives. Then, after performing external storage data recovery, you can initialize your hard disk with ease.

How Do I Initialize a Disk without Losing Data?

Fix #1: Turn off your Computer & Remove Battery

Perhaps the disk unknown uninitialized issue is caused by PC motherboard problem. So, first of all you should try to remove the battery to repair initialize disk without data loss issues:

  1. Firstly, turn off your system
  2. Next, separate the data and power cables from the problematic external hard drive.
  3. Then, remove CMOS battery and insert it after few seconds.
  4. After that, join the power cable of a problematic hard drive.
  5. Now, Start the PC.

If this solution doesn’t work then continue reading.

Fix #2: Reconnect the Disk

Due to loss of connections, Windows might be unable to access the hard drive. Hence, firstly you should remove a hard drive carefully. After this, you can re-connect it to your computer. If it still cannot be accessed then you can retry the other USB port or the other computers.

Fix #3: Run Windows Error Checking To Fix Initialize A Disk Without Losing Data

  • First of all, open File Explorer and find This PC.


  • Then, right-click the drive that you need to check errors for.
  • Choose the Properties from the drop-down menu, then click the Tools
  • After this, in Tools tab, choose the Error-checking
  • Now, you’ve to select two options i.e. Automatically fix file system errors. Also, Scan and do recovery of SD card bad sectors.

After trying these steps, automatically resolving the file system will address errors and fix it.

Fix #4: Scan the Hard Disk For Virus/Malware

Sometimes, a hard disk became unknown and not initialized due to infected by malware or virus. To fix this issue, you can check the system with good antivirus software.

Fix #5: Update the Disk Drivers

Likewise, this error can take place because of out-of-date disk drivers. So, you require updating the external hard drive’s drivers by trying the steps stated below.

Step 1: Press the “Wins + R” keys together then “Run” dialog box.

Step 2: Next, type the “devmgmt.msc” and then press the “Enter” key.


Step 3: After this, in the Window, find a disk from the list of “Universal Serial Bus controllers”.

universal bus...

Step 4: Now, right-click on it and then choose “Update Driver Software” option.

Update Drivers in Windows 10. Easily! - Driver Easy

Step 5: Under new Window, click the “Search automatically for updated driver software”.


Step 6: Lastly, restart the system.

If the above methods won’t fix this error then continue with next solutions.

Fix #6: Uninstall and Reinstall the Disk

To initialize disk without losing data windows 7, you can uninstall the disk drive from the computer and then reinstall it. In this way, Windows is able to automatically detect the device issues and fix them.

  • First, open the Device Manager from Hardware and Sound section of the Control Panel.

Hardware and Sound

  • Then, right-click on drive and select “Uninstall” option.


  • After the uninstallation, then click the “Action” > “Scan for hardware changes” to reinstall it.
  • Next, check if an error persists.

Fix #7: Rebuild The MBR

If the master boot record of your hard disk is broken or corrupted then you’ll observe a disk is unknown and uninitialized, and system cannot access the disk. Then you can also utilize the AOMEI Partition Assistant to rebuild MBR to fix the error.

  • First, open the AOMEI Partition Assistant, then right-click the unknown and not initialized disk and choose the “Rebuild MBR”.
  • Next, choose the current OS, and then click the “OK”.
  • Then, click the “Apply” and “Proceed” to start the rebuild MBR.

Fix #8: Edit the Registry Values

Additionally, the “Upper Filters” and “Lower Filters” registry values can render Windows unable to access the external hard drive. Hence, you can check & delete them to try repairing this issue.

  • Initially, search the “regedit” in the “Start Menu”.


  • Next, access the “Registry Editor” as an administrator.
  • Now, navigate to “HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SYSTEM” > “CurrentControlSet” > “Control” > “Class” > “{36FC9E60-C465-11CF-8056-444553540000}”.
  • Then, in the right pane, locate & delete “Upper Filters” as well as “Lower Filters” registry values.
  • Finally, restart the computer.

Fix #9: Run Chkdsk Command

The CHKSDSK utility can confirm the integrity of the hard drive and resolves the logical file system issues. It also checks for the bad sectors and mark them.

  • Firstly, open the command prompt and then type in ‘cmd’.


  • After that, click the Run as Administrator


  • Simply type the commands: chkdsk C: /f /r

chkdsk /X/f L:" or "chkdsk L: /f

/c is the drive you’re checking errors for

/f command will solve any found errors

/r command will locate bad segments and recover information

Fix #10: Initialize Disk without Data Loss with Disk Management

Well, to resolve how to initialize hard disk without losing data with disk management, follow the below steps:

  • Just type the “Disk Management” in a taskbar, and then choose “Run as administrator “.
  • Under Disk Management, you have to right-click a hard disk initialize.

uninitialized-disk msnsgement step 2 image

  • Then, check if you choose a right disk then click “OK”.

initialize-disk management step 3 image

  • After this, right-click an unallocated space on the drive and choose “New Simple Volume“.

Making an Amazon EBS volume available for use on Windows - Amazon ...

  • Choose the “Next“, set the size of the volume and the file system you desire to use then you have to click the “Next“.
  • Now it will be finished.

Fix #11: Reinstall All the USB Controllers

If reinstalling the disk drive is not useful then you can select to reinstall all the USB controllers. To do so, try these steps to fix initialize disk MBR or GPT without losing data:

  • Open the Device Manager.

Device Manager

  • Locate Universal Serial Bus controllers section and expand it.

Universal Serial Bus controllers

  • Next, uninstall all the controllers one by one.
  • Eventually, restart the PC to let all USB controllers auto detected and reinstalled.

How to Recover Data from Uninitialized Disk?

To recover inaccessible files from initialize disk without losing data Mac & Windows use Hard Drive Recovery Tool. This software can recover stuffs from External & internal drives, digital cameras, memory card etc with its powerful restoring ability.

To recover data from uninitialized disk, we recommend this tool:

This software will restore data from corrupted, formatted, encrypted storage media and works in all data loss situations. Now recover your lost and deleted data in 3 easy steps:

  1. Download this Media File Recovery Tool rated Excellent on Pcmag.com.
  2. Select the storage media from which you want to restore the media files & click Scan.
  3. Preview the recoverable files, select the items you want to recover and click Recover to save the files at desired location.

This photo recovery tool will scan your disk, allow you to preview the recoverable media files such as photos, videos and audio files and help you to recover them on your computer.

emidDownload Photo Recovery For Windows emidDownload Photo Recovery For Mac
* Free version of the program only scans and previews recoverable items.

So what are you waiting for? Just download it and follow the step by step guide to restore deleted stuffs from initialize disk without losing data.

How Do I Safely Initialize the Hard Disk?

If your disk is showing the error “disk 0 (1 or 2)  not initialized or unknown” or the hard disk space is displaying unallocated space in the Disk Management then you can initialize a disk to begin using it again. Follow the below steps to initialize the disk:

  • Press Win + R keys, and then type the “diskmgmt.msc”.


  • Next, hit “Enter” key to simply open it. Doing so will start the Windows Disk Management tool.
  • Choose the option “Unknown not initialized” disk and then make right-click on it.

  • After that, select the “Initialize Disk” option and then, follow Wizard to finish the process.

uninitialized-disk (1)

After you initialize the hard disk, all the media files will be deleted, but you can get back your files using data recovery tool.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is initializing a Disk the Same As Formatting?

Answer to this question is really difficult. Narrowly speaking, initialization only affects the front sector and won't erase the files on your hard drive. But broadly speaking, initializing a disk will format it in order to make it usable, which does erase the data on the disk.

How Do I Initialize An SSD Without Losing Data?

In order to initialize an SSD without losing data, try out the below troubleshooting tips:

  1. Turn off your computer & remove battery
  2. Reconnect the disk
  3. Run Windows Error Checking
  4. Scan the disk for virus/malware
  5. Update the disk drivers
  6. Rebuild The MBR
  7. Run Chkdsk Command

Will Initializing Disk Erase Data?

The answer is ‘No’, initializing a disk doesn’t erase the disk data. However, it only affects an MBR 0 sectors.

Can I Recover Data After Initialization?

Yes, of course, it is possible to recover data after initialization. By using the professional data recovery tool, you can easily restore the files after initialization. As the expert's data recovery software has enough ability to retrieve all sorts of data which has been deleted, lost, or become completely inaccessible.

What Happens If I Initialize A Disk?

When you initialize a disk, all your disk data will wipe out and result in data loss. If there’s a huge amount of stuff on your drive, it’s not suggested to initialize the disk.

Time to Wind-Up

Sometimes, you have to initialize an old disk when it is corrupted due to virus infection, bad sectors or some other reasons. But do not worry because this tutorial provides you easy solutions to troubleshoot initialize hard disk without losing data.

But, in case after trying the manual solutions if your data gets deleted then you can restore inaccessible data from external hard disk using Hard Drive Data Recovery Tool.

Hope the given solutions will definitely help you resolve initialise disk without losing data and recover files like photos/videos/music and more if you find them lost.

That’s all…