- If you can't initialize the disk, there might be a wrong setting or the drive has bad sectors.
- A new empty disk won't initialize, you can simply format it, and then you can use it.
- Make sure to check the disk status if you can't initialize the hard drive by reconnecting it.
- If no solution works and you cannot initialize the disk, it might be a serious hardware issue.
Issues with initializing a brand-new hard drive are easy to overcome by simply formatting it in GPT or MBR partition.
However, what to do if a once-fully-functional disk won’t initialize? Well, hardly anything. But, before surrendering and formatting the drive, there are some things we can try.
First of all, make sure you plugged out all the memory cards and USB sticks from your PC or laptop.
If you can’t initialize the disk in Windows 10, try the steps below in order to solve the problem.
What do I do if Disk won’t initialize in Windows 10?
1. Make sure the disk is online
- Right-click on the Start button and choose Disk Management.
- Right-click on the uninitialized drive in the bottom left and choose Online from the contextual menu.
- Try accessing the drive.
Note: 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, enable the drive using the steps above.
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.
3. Try fixing the drive
- Open Disk Management (as explained in the first solution).
- Right-click on the affected disk and open Properties.
- Choose Tools.
- Under the Error Checking section, click Check.
- The procedure might take some time depending on the size of the drive.
Note: 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.
4. Initialize the drive
- Open Disk Management.
- In the bottom left, click on the uninitialized disk and choose Initialize Disk from the contextual menu.
- Choose the partition style, GPT or MBR. This will wipe everything from the disk storage.
- Click Ok and try accessing the drive.
Note: Finally, if you’re unable to initialize the drive, the only thing you can do is format the drive and start from 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.
What to do if I can’t initialize disk on Windows 11?
If you’ve upgraded to Windows 11, you probably discovered that apart from some new features and an improved design, the new OS is not much different from the old Windows 10.
And unfortunately, it inherited a lot of the issues from the old OS, including the problem where the system can’t initialize the disk.
Fortunately, having the same main core, all the solutions we presented above for Windows 10 will work on Windows 11 with small changes on the design part.
After fixing the problem with the disk in Windows 11, we also recommend opening the File Explorer app and performing a Disk Cleanup, as shown in our screenshot above.
That procedure not only will free some space on your drive but also get rid of some of the junk accumulated over time.
The above solutions will help you whenever you can’t initialize the hard drive in Windows 10 and 11 and we hope that now, the situation has been restored.
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.
You might also be interested in our guide on what to do if the hard drive is missing after a Windows 10/11 update because it’s also a pretty common occurrence.
For any other questions or suggestions, we invite you to use our comments section below and tell us all about them.