How to Perform Data Recovery from Unknown Partition?

How to perform data recovery from unknown partitions? Users may get help from this tutorial to solve a disk unknown not initialized issue.


By Lora / Updated on November 29, 2022

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How do I recover data from an external hard drive that is not initialized?

When managing the hard disks in Disk Management, some users have noticed that the hard drive will be marked as Disk unknown not initialized after the deletion, or being damaged.


My hard drive changed to raw, and now do not show in Windows! In the data manager, I can see that it exists. Unknown disk no initiated! 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


In general, the affected disk is likely to be invisible in the This PC window, but you can go to Disk Management to view it.


Undoubtedly, it is not an enjoyable thing to go through. Many users urgently need methods of data recovery 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 help you below; come and check it out.

How to recover data from unknown partition?

This part gathers three practical methods to perform data recovery from unknown partitions; choose one 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 it, and you have safely kept it away from humidity, high temperature, and dusty environment.

But the drive 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 Probably you were bothered by an outdated driver.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There may be a yellow warning sign beside your driver if it is outdated.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 > select Device Manager.

Step 2. Select your hard drive > right-click on it > 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 your device manufacturer.

Method 2. Fix disk unknown not initialized issue efficiently

If the first solution does not work for you, you may run into further issues with your device or hard disk. A possible cause is the corrupted MBR.

Malware and virus attacks, sudden shutdowns, erroneous operations, and plenty of reasons may lead to MBR corruption. Thus you need to recover partition table.

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, a professional disk management tool will be preferable.  AOMEI Partition Assistant will be one of the best tools you could rely on.

Using it, you could rebuild an MBR quickly, saving you time and labor.

Easy-to-use. All users can operate it without difficulties, even if they are not tech-savvy. 
Efficient. Restore deleted and lost partitions in several minutes. 
Multi-functional. Rebuild MBR, recover, resize, move, convert, clone, partitions, etc. It can also deal with the unbootable computer, helping users fix the "Deleted partition now won't boot" issue. 
Compatible. It is available on Windows 11/10/8/7/XP, etc.

To fix an unknown partition caused by a corrupted partition table, users can utilize a helpful feature within - Rebuild MBR. Steps to recover MBR are introduced here.

Creating a backup of your Partition table and crucial data in advance helps deal with data loss 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 > choose Rebuild MBR.


Step 2. Select the corresponding OS to set the type of MBR > click OK.


Step 3. Preview the operation that will be carried out > Proceed > click Apply in the very upper-left corner to confirm your choice.


Thus the MBR is successfully rebuilt. This powerful tool could also help you recover GPT partitions.

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

If you need a thorough explanation of the tool's modes, switches, and instructions, please see “How to use Windows File Recovery”.

Firstly, 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

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.
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 your selected destination drive.

Wrapping up

When facing the disk unknown not initialized issue, users may get panicked. After all, no one wants to lose the work they spent days or weeks working on, 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 - MyRecover.  Also, things can be better if you form a habit of making backups for your data from now on.

Lora · Editor
Lora is an editor of AOMEI Technology. She is also a tester and editor of AOMEI Data Recovery Tools. -- "Keep testing, write the most useful tutorials for helping people recover the lost data for Windows and phones" is the most meaningful thing for her. Dedicated to creating helpful tutorials, she hopes her tutorial can assist users to effortlessly solve data loss problems on their personal computers and mobile phones.