By Lora / Last update May 7, 2022

Disk unknown not initialized issue may not be very rare to users, and how to recover data from unknown partition is relatively frequently asked. Let’s see some real cases here below.


My hard drive changed to raw, and now do not look in windows! In the data manager, I can see that it exists. Unknown disk no initiated! I cannot format it and cannot change partition or do anything else? Is anyone who has any idea how to format or restore it? I have my child's movie, photo and much more on it.


- Question from TenForums


The user in this example found his disk was not displayed in the This PC and was marked as “Unknown disk Not Initialized” in the Disk Management. (He confused it with Data Manager) Now his cherished files are totally gone.


There is no doubt that it is not an enjoyable thing to go through. Then users are eager to search for an answer about how to restore data from unknown partitions and how to recover unallocated partition, hoping to get rid of a data loss.

To deal with this problem, we offer a practicable guide to perform data recovery from unknown partition here below, come and check it out.

How to recover data from unknown partition?

Three pragmatic methods to perform data recovery from unknown partition are elaborated in this part, choose anyone to adopt according to your specific situation and preference.

Method 1. Fix disk unknown not initialized issue With Update Driver

Sometimes there is nothing wrong with your hardware or software, you can’t find any physical damage to the disk—no weird noise while running the disk, and you have safely kept it away from humidity, high temperature, and dusty environment.

But it just was just labeled “Unknown disk Not Initialized” and “Unallocated”. Probably you were bothered by an outdated driver. To solve this, follow the procedures outlined below.

There may be a yellow warning sign beside your driver if it is outdated.

Step 1. Right-click on the “Start” menu, and select “Device Manager”.

Step 2. Select your hard drive, then right-click on it and choose “Update Driver” in the list.


Step 3. In the pop-up window, select “Search automatically for update driver software”.


Then the driver will be updated. If no "update driver software" is available, go to the official websites of the manufacturer of your device.

Method 2. Fix disk unknown not initialized issue with Rebuild MBR in AOMEI Partition Assistant

If the first solution does not work for you, you may have run into further issues with your device or hard disk. A possible cause is the corrupted MBR. Malware and virus attacks, sudden shutdown, erroneous operations, and plenty of reasons may lead to MBR corruption.

If MBR is damaged or corrupted, the OS of your device will fail to recognize and get access to your data, and the disk may be shown as “Unknown disk Not Initialized” or “Unallocated”.

To deal with damaged MBR, users can utilize a useful feature within AOMEI Partition Assistant. Steps to recover MBR are introduced here.

Creating a backup of your Partition table and crucial data in advance helps to deal with data loss much more conveniently and straightforwardly.
Download Demo Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Step 1. Download the AOMEI Partition Assistant and enjoy a free trial. Right-click on the unknown disk, then choose “Rebuild MBR”.


Step 2. Select the corresponding OS to set the type of MBR. Then click “OK”.


Step 3. Preview the operation that will be carried out. Click “Proceed” to move on, then click “Apply” in the very upper-left corner to confirm your choice.


Thus the MBR is successfully rebuilt.

Method 3. Recover files from unknown partitions via Windows File Recovery

After you have initialized/formatted or done some troubleshooting on the unknown partition, you may have found that all your files and data in it are lost.

Data/file loss is a severe consequence that disk unknown not initialized issue may bring, which is also a top concern among users. If your files are all gone because of a corrupted/formatted partition, an official tool by Microsoft could be of some help.

Windows File Recovery, a command-line app, which can recover deleted media files/office files/ZIP files, etc., including jpg/png/pdf/xlsx/docx/mov/mp3/mp4/zip, and so on.

Some ordinary users may find it pretty hard to use commands in Windows File Recovery, if you need a tool with a graphical user interface, please refer to WinfrGUI at the end of this part.

If you need a thorough explanation of the tool's modes, switches, and instructions, please see “How to use Windows File Recovery”. We just provide basic instructions here. Windows File Recovery has provided several recovery modes, to decide which to use you need to figure out your File System and data loss scenario.

To open "This PC", press "Win+E" and then right-click on the partition and select "Properties".


Now choose a recovery mode according to the File System and how you have lost your files.

File system Scenarios mode
NTFS Deleted recently Regular
NTFS Deleted for a while Extensive
NTFS Formatted disk Extensive
NTFS corrupted disk Extensive
FAT and exFAT Any Extensive

Two basic modes: Regular & Extensive;

Two advanced modes: Signature & Segment;

Select switches according to your needs in the chart below.

Switches Meaning Supported mode(s)
/n Filter the scan range: scans for a specific file with its file name/path/type, etc. All
/y: Recovers specific extension groups. Signature
/k Recovers system files. NTFS Segment​​​​​
/segment Segment mode; recovers files under NTFS drives using file record segments. Segment
/signature Signature mode; recovers files under all file system types using file headers. Signature
/u Recovers undeleted files, for example, from the Recycle Bin. NTFS Segment
The destination drive cannot be the same as the source drive.
The time that the scanning cost depends on the size of your data. Please wait in patience.
It is recommended to connect an external storage device to store your files.
If Windows File Recovery failed to create destination folder, please get some help.

Step 1. Get Windows File Recovery in Microsoft Store.


Step 2. Start it, then input the command:

winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/mode] [/switches]

If your partition is corrupted/formatted, it is recommended to use Segment mode. Now let’s take an example: if you are about to recover pdf files from the partition D: drive to E: drive, then you could input the command:

winfr D: E: /segment /n *.pdf


Step 3. After that, a recovery folder will be created in the destination drive you have selected.

If you find it difficult to use commands to recover files or data, there is another tool for you: WinfrGUI.

WinfrGUI, a free tool with an intuitive graphical user interface

Using WinfrGUI, you could recover deleted or lost files from healthy/corrupted/formatted disks in Windows 10 and above in just a few clicks.

Now tutorial in using WinfrGUI is ready for you. Download WinfrGUI to restore lost files effortlessly.

Download Freeware Win 10 2004 and above
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The destination partition/drive must be different from the source partition.
Quick Scan only applies to NTFS. Use Deep Scan to scan your non-NTFS partition.

Step 1. Start WinfrGUI > select the partition that has lost files> choose a location to save your recovered files.


Step 2. Choose a scanning method. Target the folder or file type in “Advanced Settings”.


Step 3. Then click “Start Recovery” to get all deleted files back to your computer.


Using this tool, to recover permanently deleted files in Windows 10/11 is also available.

Wrapping up

When facing the disk unknown not initialized issue, users may get panicked. After all, no one wants to lose the work that he or she spent days or weeks working on it, no one wants to lose his cherished memories with families or friends, and no one wants to pay too much for data recovery service.

But don’t panic! We have remedies here, to perform data recovery from unknown partitions, 3 methods have been elaborated on this page.

And in addition, you could turn to a professional Windows data rescue tool - AOMEI Data Recovery for Windows.  Also, if you form a habit of making backups for your data from now on, things can be better.