Workaround: Initialize Disk MBR or GPT without Losing Data

This article tells how to initialize disk MBR or GPT without losing data when it becomes “Not Initialized” accidentally. Also, it introduces how to protect data easily in the future.


by Ivy Updated on October 18, 2022

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The issue: disk showing unknown and not initialized

“Help. My hard drive does not appear in the File Explorer and I check it out in Disk Management, only to find it is shown ‘Disk 1 Unknown, Not Initialized’. I can initialize it to a MBR or GPT disk by right-clicking the disk, but I don’t want to lose all stored data there. Does initialize disk lose data? I don’t know what to do.”

Does initializing a disk erase data?

Do you confront a similar issue that the hard disk cannot be recognized by Windows and shown as “Not Initialized”? The problem usually emerges after a file system corruption, virus infection, bad sector, MBR damaging, or connection problem. You may dare not to start the “Initialize Disk” process when there is important data. Very smart! Since that behavior will erase your data completely.

Actually, it does not mean initializing a disk will erase the data. The purpose to initialize the disk is to rebuild MBR which will not erase data on your disk. However, to make the disk usable again, you need to format the disk and this action will wipe out your data. Therefore, you have to take measures to get data back before initializing.

How to initialize disk MBR or GPT without losing data in Windows 10/7 (2 steps)?

To get hard disk not initialized fixed, follow the instruction below. In the first part, you’ll learn how to recover data to a safe place on the problem disk. Later, you can initialize the disk properly. Finally, restore or transfer those data to your hard disk. Let’s learn the detailed steps.

How to retrieve data from a not initialized disk effectively?

Recoverit Pro, the professional and reliable data recovery software, is a good helper in recovering data from a not initialized hard disk. You can recover lost data that caused by any disaster. It allows you to complete the recovery task with easy steps. Let me walk you through the guide.

1. Install and run the Recoverit Pro on your computer where the “Not Initialized” disk connected. Click “External Devices Recovery”. If it is not an external device, choose All-Around Recovery.

External Devices Recovery

2. Select the problematic disk and click “Start”.

Start Scan

3. A quick scan will start and you can simply preview those files once it completes. If no files find, please go to All-Around Recovery and try again.

4. Now, select files you’d like to recover from the not initialized disk and click “Recover”. Please save these files to another disk or a safe place.


After recovering the data from the disk, there is no need to worry about data loss. Then, you can initialize the hard disk without any worries.

Initialize hard disk properly

Two ways are available to initialize a hard disk in Windows. The graphical user interface is friendlier to a user who has less computer experiences. Here are specific steps.

1. Open Disk Management. Find the disk that is not initialized, right-click it and select “Initialize Disk”.

Initialize Disk

2. Select one of the partition styles (MBR or GPT) for the disk and click OK. The task will start immediately.

Select Partition Style

Tips: Choose MBR if the hard disk is smaller than 2TB. Otherwise, choose GPT to fully use its space.

For advanced users, Windows also provides a way to initialize disk in Command Prompt, with kind of roundabout commands.

1. Open an elevated command prompt. Type Diskpart and press Enter.

2. Type following commands successively.

  • list disk

  • select disk n (where n is the disk number of the problematic disk)

  • attributes disk clear readonly

  • online disk

  • convert mbr (you can type: convert gpt if you want to initialize the disk GPT)

  • exit (leave diskpart)

  • exit (leave cmd)

Convert MBR

Partition and format the disk

Open Disk Management > right-click the unallocated space and choose New Simple Volume... > click Next on the New Simple Volume Wizard screen and follow the wizard to complete the process.

Now, you can transfer the data stored on other places to this initialized disk. See, no data loss during the entire process.

Protect data in a simpler way

Although you can initialize disk without losing data with the help of professional data recovery software, the worry and irritability that data may be lost are quite annoying still. As a result, to avoid such trouble in the future, it is strongly recommended to back up important files.

AOMEI Backupper Standard, the free backup and recovery software, provides robust backup solution. It helps you back up important data on daily, weekly, or monthly basis, set-and-forget. No need to worry about disk space on the destination path since the Incremental and Differential features will save disk space while keeping backups up-to-date.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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It offers many backup features in order to apply to different situations. Here comes the main console of Backup. Just try it to now to set scheduled backup task to protect your hard drive, system, partition or files. In this way, you will always have a solution to find your lost data in the future.



That’s all for how to initialize disk without losing data in Windows 10/7. When your hard disk becomes “Not Initialized”, do not initialize it if there is important data. You can perform data recovery from the error disk with the help of comprehensive recovery software, Recoverit Pro. And then initialize it to make it usable.

Meanwhile, it is recommended to backup valuable data in daily life. AOMEI Backupper Standard, a free backup software, earns its own reputation due to powerful backup and restore features. It is worth trying.

Ivy · Editor
Ivy is an editor of AOMEI Technology, she covers backup & restore,hard disk & partitions management and cloud files transfer and so on for AOMEI. She is an outgoing girl and enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. She loves traveling, eating, reading and so on. She usually hangs out with friends at her leisure time.