How to Initialize New Disk in Windows 11

This article explains the steps you can take to initialize new disks in Windows 11.

If you add a brand new disk to your PC and it doesn’t show up in File Explorer, you might need to add a drive letter or initialize it before using it.

You can initialize a new disk that is not formatted. When you do, Windows will erase or remove all the data on the disk and prepare it for use. Once initialized, you can then format it, and add a drive letter before adding data to the drive.

However, if you insert a disk drive that already has data on it, and you don’t see it in File Explorer, you should not initialize or format it. Troubleshoot the disk drive to make sure you don’t lose your data on it.

Below is how to initialize a new disk drive in Windows 11.

Initial new disks in Windows 11

As described above, If you add a brand new disk to your PC and it doesn’t show up in File Explorer, you might need to add a drive letter or initialize it before using it.

Below is how to do that.

First, open the Windows Settings app.

You can do that by clicking on the Start menu button and selecting the Settings app. Alternatively, use the keyboard shortcuts (Windows key + I) to launch the Settings app.

windows 11 new settings button
windows 11 new settings button

When the Settings app opens, click the System button on the left.

windows 11 system tile
Windows 11 system tile

On the right, select the Storage tile to expand.

windows settings app storage tile
windows settings app storage tile

On the System -> Storage settings pane, under Storage management, select the Advanced storage settings tile to expand.

windows advanced storage settings tile
windows advanced storage settings tile

On the System -> Storage -> Advanced storage settings tile, select the Disks & volumes tile under Advanced storage settings to expand.

windows disk and volumes tile
windows disk and volumes tile

On the System -> Storage -> Disks & volumes settings pane, Windows will list all the disks connected to your machine.

New disks will be listed as Not initialized.

To initialize a new disk, click the Initialize button as highlighted below.

windows initialize disks pane
windows initialize disks pane

On the Initialize disk pop-up window, choose the partition style to use for the disk and click Initialize to begin.

GPT (GUID Partition Table) – Most PCs use the GUID Partition Table (GPT) disk type for hard drives and SSDs. GPT is more robust and allows for volumes bigger than 2 TB.

MBR (Master Boot Record) – The older Master Boot Record (MBR) disk type is used by 32-bit PCs, older PCs, and removable drives such as memory cards

windows initialize disk choose partition style
windows initialize disk choose partition style

When you initialize a disk, the status should change to Unallocated. Windows has initialized it and is ready to create a partition.

Click the Create volume button to create partitions on the disk.

windows unallocated disk create volume
windows unallocated disk creates volume

On the next window, type in a Label (what you want to call the partition), choose a Drive letter, File System, and click the Format button.

windows format disks prompt
windows format disks prompt

Once the disk is formatted, it should appear in File Explorer for use.

windows file explorer with drives
windows file explorer with drives

That should do it!

Initialize disks using the Disk Management tool

The same steps above can be done using the old Windows Disk Management tool.

Use the steps below to initialize a disk using the Windows Disk Management tool.

First, open Disk Management with administrator permissions.

To do so, in the search box on the taskbar, type Disk Management, select and hold (or right-click) Disk Management, then select Run as administrator > Yes

windows disk management tool
windows disk management tool

In Disk Management, right-click the disk you want to initialize, and then click Initialize Disk. If the disk is listed as Offline, first right-click it and select Online.

windows disk management tool initialize
windows disk management tool initialize

After initializing the disk, right-click the unallocated space on the drive and then select New Simple Volume.

Follow the steps similar to the one above and format the disk.

That should do it!

Reference:

https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/storage/disk-management/initialize-new-disks

Conclusion:

This post showed you how to initialize a new disk on Windows 11. If you find any error above or have something to add, please use the comment form below.