Solved: Unable to Initialize Hard Drive in Windows 10/8/7

February 1, 2019

This paper details the possible reasons that cause the failure of hard drive initialization and presents how to fix this problem when you are unable to initialize hard drive in Windows 10/8/7.

Disk Management fails to initialize hard drive in Windows

It is not rare that hard drive not listed in “This PC” and when you open Disk Management, it shows as disk unknown, not initialized in the form of an unallocated space or without showing disk capacity. At this point, in order to access and make use of your hard drive, you might choose to initialize the disk. However, you could be unable to initialize hard drive via Disk Management. And when you fail to initialize hard drive, you might get some sort of error message and the error message could be “The request could not be completed because of an I/O device error” or “The system cannot find the file specified” or “The device is not ready” or Incorrect function.

The reasons of hard drive initialization failure

Whether what kind of error message you have received, it is necessary to figure out why Disk Management cannot initialize hard drive. And then you can find out appropriate ways to fix this problem. There possible reasons are concluded as follows:

  • Virus infection

  • Inappropriate CMOS (complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor) setting

  • Damaged MBR (Master Boot Record)

  • Partition loss

  • Bad blocks and sectors

  • Connection problem

The solutions to “unable to initialize disk” issue

Since you have realized the likely causes of this problem, you can take measures to fix this listed below to fix this problem according to your own situation.

Solution 1: Run professional anti-virus software

If you had connected your hard drive to an unsafe computer and it suddenly to show in the form of disk unknown, not initialized in Disk Management, you could consider that whether your hard drive has been infected with virus. In such circumstance, you can run anti-virus software like Windows Defender or Emsisoft Anti-Malware to scan your hard drive and protect your computer against virus. After the viruses are eliminated, you can initialize your disk.

Solution 2: Switch connection cable

When you try to initialize hard drive via Disk Management and receive error message like “this request cannot be completed because of an I/O device error” or “the device is not ready”, the most likely reason is that there is something wrong with connection cable. At this time, you should adjust your connection cable and try to initialize again. If it is convenient, connect your hard drive to another computer to see whether it is able to be detected and initialized.

Solution 3: Change CMOS Settings

If the problem still exists after switching connection cables, open CMOS Settings by pressing F2 or Del key and enter BIOS FEATURES SETUP to check whether the status of VIRUS WARNING. If it shows “Enabled”, set it to “Disabled”. Then, try to initialize hard dive again.

Solution 4: Rebuild MBR and recover partition

If your hard drive shows as “disk unknown, not initialized” with capacity, it means that your hard drive can be detected by your operating system. In such circumstance, the failure of initialization might be caused by MBR corruption or partition loss. Therefore, what you need to do is to rebuild MBR or make partition recovery.

Tutorial for rebuilding MBR in Windows 10/8/7

There is much software that can help you rebuild MBR and AOMEI Partition Assistant will be a nice choice. Apart from “Rebuild MBR”, it enjoys various other features such as “Disk Copy”, “Partition Copy” and so on, which will help you manage disk comprehensively.

Step 1: Download AOMEI Partition Assistant. Install and fire up it.

Step 2: Right click the disk that you need to repair MBR and choose “Rebuild MBR”.

Rebuild Data Disk MBR

Step 3: Set the type of MBR according to your need. Then, click on “OK” button.

Choose MBR Type

Step 4: Click on “Apply” to start to rebuild MBR.


Tutorial for recovering partition in Windows 10/8/7

* To recover partition, you need to upgrade to AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional edition first.

Step 1: Run AOMEI Partition Assistant and choose “Partition Recovery Wizard", and select a disk which you want to recover.

Partition Recovery Wizard

Step 2: Chose a proper search mode. Then, click “Next”.

Search Method

PS: This software offers you two kinds of search mode: “Fast search” and “Full search”.

Fast search – this mode search the first sector of each partition of the selected disk to quickly find out deleted or lost volumes.

Full search– this mode will search each sector of the selected disk, so it is more time-consuming than the first mode. When the first mode can’t find out volume, you can apply this method.

Step 3: The deleted volumes will be listed in the windows. Tick the partitions that you need to recover and click “Proceed” to start this operation.

Solution 5: Diagnose hard drive via professional software

If you have tried all solution listed in the above text and you are still cannot initialize hard drive, you can use AOMEI Partition Assistant to check bad sector. You can also use hard drive diagnostic software or turn to professionals for help to see whether your hard drive is dead. If it is, you have to replace it with new one.


If your hard drive shows in the form of disk unknown, not initialized and you are unable to initialize hard drive, there is no necessary to lose your cool and you can try one or more methods described in this article to fix your problem.