What to do if you can’t initialize disk in Windows 10

Aleksandar Ognjanovic
by Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Troubleshooting Expert
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Issues with initializing a brand new drive are easy to overcome by simply formatting it in GPT or MBR partition. However, what to do if a once-fully-functional drive won’t initialize? Well, hardly anything. But, before surrendering and formatting the drive, there are some things we can try. If you can’t initialize the disk in Windows 10, try with the steps below.

Disk won’t initialize in Windows 10

  1. Make sure the disk is online
  2. Run Disk test
  3. Try fixing the drive
  4. Use a third-party program to back up your data and initialize the drive

Solution 1 – Make sure the disk is online

The first thing you need to do is confirm that the disk is online. Flash drives do not need to be set online while configuring, but that’s not the case for standard HDD drives. So, before doing something drastic, let’s enable the drive in the first place.

This means that it’s running, while offline makes it appear in BIOS settings but not in the system. Have in mind that this, in case the hard drive is damaged, won’t be of too much use.

Here’s how to set the disk as online:

  1. In the Windows Search bar, type Disk Management and open “Create and format hard drive partitions“.
  2. Right-click on the uninitialized drive in the bottom left and choose Online from the contextual menu.disk management set drive online
  3. Try accessing the drive.

Solution 2 – Run Disk test

If the disk still won’t initialize, consider running a disk test. You can use the system resources, but we prefer downloading and using a third-party diagnostic tool in this scenario. What we need to do is find out the drive is fully functional and without corruption.

Also, along with the software inspection, make sure that your cables are properly connected. In case this is an external drive with the portable case, take it out and reconnect it. After that, give it another try.

Software-wise, try with one of these programs to check for errors. The important thing is not to manually initialize the drive as this requires wiping all data. And if you have anything of value on that drive, wiping it probably not what you want.

Solution 3 – Try fixing the drive

Another thing, albeit far-fetched, is to try repairing the drive with the system resources. If the drive is visible in Disk Management, you can try and repair it with the Error Checking tool. This might or might not work, as the drive might appear as Unknown. Nonetheless, you can give it a go and possibly address the issue.

Here’s how to try fixing the uninitialized drive:

  1. Open Disk Management (as explained in the first solution).
  2. Right-click on the affected disk and open Properties.
  3. Choose Tools.
  4. Under the Error Checking section, click Check.drive error checking win 10
  5. The procedure might take some time depending on the size of the drive.

Solution 4 – Use a third-party program to back up your data and initialize the drive

Finally, if you’re unable to initialize the drive, the only thing you can do is format the drive and start from a scratch. Of course, before doing this, try some of the free or paid recovery software to get your data out of it. You can try one of these programs to do so but have in mind that you’ll hardly manage to get the 100% of the data.

After you’ve done that, here’s how to initialize the disk with Disk Management:

  1. Open Disk Management.
  2. In the bottom left, click on the uninitialized disk and choose Initialize Disk from the contextual menu.
  3. Choose the partition style (GPT or MBR). This will wipe everything from the disk storage.
  4. Click Ok and try accessing the drive.

With that said, we can conclude this article. If you’re still unable to initialize the disk, consider replacing it. The most likely reason for this is the hardware malfunction and it’s hard to fix it.

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