Fixed: “Disk 1 Unknown, Not Initialized” Western Digital

Have you got the error message “Disk 1 Unknown, Not Initialized” on your Western Digital hard drive? This article will help you out in this situation.


By Emily / Updated on September 19, 2023

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The issue: “Disk 1 Unknown, Not Initialized” Western Digital

Western Digital (WD) provides various data storage solutions to help users capture and preserve their most valued data. Products like WD My Book, My Passport and Elements are favored by a lot of people. Popular as WD hard drives are, they disappoint users sometimes. Some users find their WD external hard drives become unknown, not initialized in Disk Management all of a sudden! How it comes and how to fix it? Please read on.

Why does the WD disk become uninitialized?

The issue of “Disk 1 Unknown, Not Initialized” Western Digital can be caused by following reasons:

▪ Abrupt hard drive removal
▪ Virus infection which breaks file system directly
▪ MBR damage
▪ Bad sectors
▪ Motherboard issue, etc.

All these factors can lead to WD drives not initialized, such as WD Elements not initialized. Learn how to fix it efficiently from the next part.

How to fix the uninitialized WD hard drive efficiently?

When you find your WD external hard drive becomes unknown, not initialized, Disk Management may show you different status: “Disk 1 Unknown, Not Initialized” with “Unallocated” shown at right or “Disk 1 Unknown, Not Initialized” with no disk space shown. I’ll present how to fix the issue under two cases separately:

Case 1: Disk unknown, not initialized, unallocated

● Fix 1: initialize WD drive in Disk Management

The first thing you can try is to initialize the WD hard drive in Disk Management directly. Keep in mind that initialization will erase all your data on the WD drive, so do file backup for your crucial data before you start. Then, follow the instructions below:

1. Right click the “This PC” icon on the desktop and hit the “Manage” option. Click on “Disk management” to open Windows Disk Management.

2. Right click on the WD drive that needs initializing and select “Initialize Disk”.

Initialize Disk

3. Follow the wizard to initialize the WD drive as MBR or GPT disk.

Initialize MBR or GPT


>> Choose GPT if your computer uses UEFI and MBR if your computer uses BIOS. Windows 11 only supports UEFI, if you want use Windows 11, you'd better choose GPT disk and UEFI boot mode. Learn more from the difference between MBR and GPT.

>> If you are unable to initialize hard drive in Disk Management because of an I/O device error, use another cable to connect the WD drive or connect it to another working computer and try again.

● Fix 2: rebuild MBR on WD drive via a free utility

If the problem is caused by damaged MBR, you can rebuild MBR on the WD drive with a free utility—AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. It supports all Windows PC operating systems like Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7/Vista/XP. Follow the steps below to fix “Disk 1 Unknown, Not Initialized” Western Digital:

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

1. Download and open the software. Click the uninitialized WD disk, and choose “Rebuild MBR” on the right navigate pane.

Rebuild MBR Unallocated

2. Select your operating system in the pop-up window and click “OK”.

Set MBR Type

3. Click “Apply” and then “Proceed” to commit the pending operation.



1. * Bad sectors on the WD drive can also lead to the error of “Disk 1 Unknown, Not Initialized”. Use AOMEI Partition Assistant to check bad sectors in this condition.

2. after you fix the disk not initialized, you can use the "Recover Data" function to retrieve lost data.

Case 2: Disk unknown, not initialized, no disk space

If Disk Management shows nothing about your WD drive, you can disconnect the drive and examine it for physical signs of damage such as dents or broken pins. Get a new drive if it’s physically damaged.

If there is no physical damage, the problem can result from a PC motherboard issue. Follow the guidance below to fix it:

1. Turn off your computer and disconnect the WD drive.

2. Remove the battery for ten more seconds.

3. Plug in the battery and turn on your computer.

4. Shut down your computer again and reconnect the WD drive.

5. Start the computer to see if the WD drive can be used now.


When you encounter the error of “Disk 1 Unknown, Not Initialized” Western Digital, you can turn to different solutions provided in this article according to your situation. Apart from repairing uninitialized WD drives, AOMEI Partition Assistant can also help you when WD Drive Utilities quick drive test failed. Get this tool right now to discover more!

Emily · Staff Editor
Emily is an English editor of AOMEI Technology; she has a great passion for providing easy solutions for people to tackle with all disk or partition management problems. In addition to writing articles about disk/partition management, she also edits great tutorials on how to back up and restore disk for data security. In her spare time, she loves to learn computer skill to improve herself or stay with her family to enjoy a good day.