A Guide to Setting Up a New Disk on Windows 11



The article outlines steps for initializing new disks in Windows 11. If a new disk doesn’t appear in File Explorer, it may need a drive letter or initialization. Initializing a disk erases all data, preparing it for use. The guide provides step-by-step instructions for performing this action via the Windows Settings app, and also through…

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

If you add a 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 format it and add a drive letter before adding data to the drive.

However, if you insert a disk drive with data and don’t see it in File Explorer, you should not initialize or format it. Instead, troubleshoot the disk drive to ensure you don’t lose your data.

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 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 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 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) 32-bit PCs use disk type, older PCs, and removable drives such as memory cards

windows initialize disk choose partition style
windows initialize the 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 taskbar search box, select 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, then click Initialize Disk. For example, if the disk is listed as Offline, 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 select New Simple Volume.

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

That should do it!




This post showed you how to initialize a new disk on Windows 11. Please use the comment form below if you find any errors above or have something to add.

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