[Solved] Disk 1 Unknown, Not Initialized Western Digital Drives

Learn to fix Disk 1 Unknown, Not Initialized Western Digital via several fixes in this article, Besides, you can also recover unallocated partition with data on it.


By Penny / Updated on April 2, 2024

Share this: instagram reddit

Case: Disk 1 Unknown, Not Initialized-Western Digital

Western Digital (WD) releases many products such as WD My Book, My Passport, and Elements for users to transfer and save their valuable data. Though countless users favor this brand, WD hard drives also can disappoint users.

Some users have complained that they’ve received this error message: Disk 1 Unknown, Not initialized.  


I’m encountering a problem with my WD external HDD. It is no longer being detected on my computer and shows up as Unknown and Not Initialized in my Disk Management. So why does my hard drive showing as Unknown, Not Initiated? And how do I fix disk not initialized? Any suggestions will be appreciated.


The Disk 1 Unknown, Not Initialized Western Digital issue can be caused by a corrupted Master Boot Record (MBR), bad sectors, damaged file systems, partition loss, outdated or corrupted device driver, virus infection, and motherboard issues.

What happens if you initialize a disk?

To quickly address the issue of WD elements not initialized, most users might initialize the drive itself using Disk Management.

Disk initialization is a process of creating the partition using MBR or GPT. This process can erase everything on the disk, which prepares the disk for use by Windows operating systems. More precisely, after disk initialization and formatting, you’re permitted to save files on disk 1.

Thus, if your Western Digital drive stores your substantial important files, it is strongly advised against initializing the disk. Disk initialization only be applicable when the disk is empty or there’s a file backup of this drive.

Beforehand: Recover data from uninitialized disks to prevent data loss

If you’re unwilling to suffer the second damage, you’re supposed not to initialize your WD drive and retrieve all the recoverable files from your uninitialized WD drive. After that, you’re ready to perform disk initialization.

But how to recover data from uninitialized disks? Seeking help from a professional data recovery tool like MyRecover is the most effort-saving and efficient solution. This tool aims to recover deleted & lost files from your healthy, unallocated, or problematic local hard drives.   

Key features of MyRecover:  
High-efficiency: Recover MS Office files, WPS files, folders, compressed files, images, videos, audio, songs, videos, and websites from internal and external HDDs, SD cards, USBs, etc.
Advanced scanning method: MyRecover runs Quick Scan & Deep Scan automatically to search all the recoverable files. Specify the filename, saved path, date, or size to filter your needed files.
Convenience: Retain the original filename, path, and format for the deleted files.   
Excellent compatibility: Support NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, and ReFS file systems and work with Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, or Server PC.

Let’s take WD external HDDs as an example because this problem might be more likely to occur with external HDDs.

Download Software Windows 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

Step 1. Connect the external HDD to your Windows PC. After launching MyRecover, hover the mouse over your external HDD and click Scan.


Step 2. MyRecover can scan your WD external HDD automatically and display all the recoverable files on your selected drive.

You can also preview/filter your needed data according to Name, Date, Document Type, or Path.

  • Name: Type the filenames of your desired files in the search bar to quickly locate your desired RSV files.
  • Date modified: Set the date (today, yesterday, last 7/30 days, and so on) according to your situation.
  • Size: Filter the file size (<128KB, 128KB~1MB, 1MB~ 512MB, etc) based on your needs.


Step 3. Select your desired files in the Other Missing Files folder. Then click “Recover x files” to begin the data recovery process.


After recovery, you’d better store your deleted & missing files in another drive instead of the original WD drive.
MyRecover enables you to recover up to 500MB of files for free. Besides, upgrading MyRecover to the Professional or Technician edition is a more cost-effective method if you desire to recover a large number of deleted & lost files from your local hard drives.

How to fix the WD external hard drive Unknown Not Initialized?

Let’s perform how to solve Disk 1 Unknown, Not Initialized Western Digital issue using the following solutions.

Fix 1. Initialize the WD hard drive via Disk Management

Integrated into the Windows operating system, Disk Management serves as a powerful utility to conduct advanced storage operations because it can display comprehensive information about the drives and partitions on your Windows.

At the moment, you can make good use of this Windows system utility to initialize your Western Digital drive. This tool also can recover hidden partitions in Windows 7, 8, 10, or 11.

Step 1. Press “Win + X” and select the “Disk Management” option to open this utility.


Step 2. After seeing all the disks/partitions on your PC, right-click on your uninitialized disk and select the “Initialize Disk” option.


Step 3. Choose “MBR” or “GPT” as you prefer. To some degree, GPT is a better choice. Then click “OK” to save these changes.


Fix 2. Rebuild MBR via AOMEI Partition Assistant

Master Boot Record (MBR) is a crucial boot sector at the beginning of your hard drive. As mentioned at the beginning, corrupted MBR is among the possible reasons for your WD external hard drive unknown not initialized.

To solve this issue, you can ask for help from this powerful partition management utility, AOMEI Partition Assistant to rebuild MBR.

Deal with fixing errors using CHKDSK.exe, disk formatting, merge partitions, partition creation, partition resize, partition recovery, etc.
Perform disk conversion between MBR and GPT, OS migration, etc.
Support Windows 11, 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Vista, and XP (32/64-bit) computers.

Step 1. Download and install AOMEI Partition Assistant on your Windows PC.

Download Demo Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 2. Right-click on your Western Digital drive and select the “Rebuild MBR” option.


Step 3. Select an operating system you’re using and click the “OK” button.


Step 4. On the main interface, click Apply > Proceed to start rebuilding MBR.


Fix 3. Recover deleted & lost partitions via AOMEI Partition Assistant

Partition loss is also responsible for this issue. So why don’t you reuse AOMEI Partition Assistant to recover accidentally deleted partitions and other missing partitions?

As long as the data has not been overwritten, this tool provides the capability to recover deleted partitions with data on them.  

Deletion is one of the most common reasons for unallocated space. Once a partition has been deleted, the space that was previously occupied by that partition will be designated as Unallocated in the Disk Management utility. This signifies that the area is available for future allocation or for creating new partitions. At the moment, you need to perform unallocated hard drive data recovery.

Step 1. After entering its interface, click Partition Recovery Wizard on the left panel > select Disk 1/2 > click Next.  


Step 2. To find your deleted or lost partitions quickly, please choose “Fast Search” and click “Next” to go on.


Step 3. After scanning, you can see all the recoverable drives. Please select your desired WD external hard drive and click the “Proceed” button.


After the partition recovery process, you’ll receive a Congratulations message. Please click “Finish” to exit this window.

Fix 4. Update/Uninstall the WD device driver

An outdated or damaged device driver also can cause Disk 1 Unknown, Not Initialized Western Digital. Please refer to the following steps to update or uninstall the WD device driver.

Step 1. Press “Win + X” and select “Device Manager” to open it.


Step 2. Expand Disk Drives and right-click on your desired WD hard drive. You can “Update driver” or “Uninstall driver” based on your needs.



Step 3. Select the “Search automatically for drivers” option. Please wait patiently.


Fix 5. Seek manual repair assistance

As a last resort, you can reach out to Western Digital’s technical support or consult an expert for manual repair.

Related Q&A about Disk Unknown Not Initialized errors

Please find the possible causes of the Disk 1 Unknown, Not Initialized Western Digital drives and efficient fixes from the above content. Meanwhile, there’re some related tips about Disk Unknown Not Initialized errors.

Penny · Editor
Penny works as an editor at AOMEI Technology, while she's a tester and editor for AOMEI Data Recovery Tools. She enjoys helping users with data recovery issues on Windows and iPhones using simple and practical solutions. Outside of work, she has a strong affection for pets, particularly giant pandas.