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How to initialize a hard drive without formatting!?

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  • Hard Drives
  • Formatting
  • Storage
Last response: in Storage
May 1, 2010 8:22:26 PM

Hello,
I was in the process of converting my external 2tb Mybook into an internal sata drive.

I have done so in the past with my 500gb mybook and it worked with no problems.

But when I start the compuer, the drive is not being read, and if I try Disc Management, it find the drive, but asks to initilize it, which leads to formatting it.

I have over 1/5tb of very important information on it.

I cannot format this disc and need it to function. Please help!!

More about : initialize hard drive formatting

a b G Storage
May 2, 2010 3:42:15 AM

put it back in the external enclosure and back up the data
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May 2, 2010 4:21:07 AM

I did so and the same happens. It doesn't read it right away. I have to use Disk Management to make sure the computer even detects it, which it does, and it asks to initialize it which leads to a format.
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a b G Storage
May 2, 2010 5:54:06 AM

sounds like the drive got corrupted
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May 2, 2010 7:31:53 AM

Hopefully you backed up your data before you started work? It seems like you are asking for trouble removing your hard drives from their enclosure without a backup first.
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May 2, 2010 1:27:56 PM

I understand. I'm just wondering if theirs a workaround, since the drive is not yet formatted. If I would have backed everything up, there would be no problem, as I would just proceed with the format. Anyone out there with an answer? Please! Thanks ;) 
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Best solution

a c 462 G Storage
May 2, 2010 3:47:02 PM

Look closely in the lower right pane of Disk Management at the Partition on the drive. It has some information displayed there. Look for the File System. If it is NTFS, you should be OK to use it. But a common problem seems to be it shows as RAW, which means that a little of the Partition or Format tables is wrong and Windows can't figure it out. If you see RAW as your File System, search the web for ways to fix a RAW Format and recover your data.
Share
May 2, 2010 11:01:09 PM

Thanks for the response. I'll try that now and let you know what happens.

I appreciate any other possibilities.

PS: I believe it is in RAW format. I'll see what I can figure out, though if anyone else has ideas on how to go from RAW, let me know. ;) 
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May 3, 2010 3:25:10 PM

Thanks guys. I ended up searching for a RAW format fix and recovered all my data with
a program called 'ZAR 8.5'. I took about an hour per 100 GB, but it found everything.

Really appreciate it!

PS: If someone else has this problem, note that the free version of Zar will only let you recover 4 folders at a time. But its the only program that worked for me.
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May 3, 2010 3:25:26 PM

Best answer selected by basementfilms.
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June 11, 2012 1:14:52 AM

basementfilms said:
Thanks guys. I ended up searching for a RAW format fix and recovered all my data with
a program called 'ZAR 8.5'. I took about an hour per 100 GB, but it found everything.

Really appreciate it!

PS: If someone else has this problem, note that the free version of Zar will only let you recover 4 folders at a time. But its the only program that worked for me.

I have the same problem I think, I just got a 64GB SATA M4 SSD, using it for the primary HD and I just got a 320GB Western Digital SATA HD that I would like to use as my storage drive but under win 7 ultimate 64 bit it says I have to initlize it, but it shows up in device manager and in the bios screen can anyone help me please? if so email: Vengence1@juno.com
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April 21, 2013 8:19:34 AM

505090 said:
sounds like the drive got corrupted


How do you get it uncorrupted? In other words, is there a way to recover the data without paying through the nose to a data recovery service? I have the same issue with a Maxtor Personal Storage 3000LE. The drive was no longer recognized by my computer so I pulled it out of the external enclosure and put it in place of another internal, slave drive. Different problem. The computer sees the new disk drive and installed the drivers but doesn't see any files on this drive and I can't save to it either.

I've read some of your other solutions for similar drives but my power supply was fine and the disk was spinning. My computer (and others) cannot see the files on this drive.
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a c 462 G Storage
April 21, 2013 8:09:13 PM

JK1, the answer depends on the symptoms. When OP checked in the LOWER RIGHT pane of Disk Management as I suggested, he found that the HDD had a "RAW" File System. To look for that in Disk Management, look at the large sub-block on your HDD's box. The second line of info gives the Partition size in GB, followed the File System which should be "NTFS" if it's normal. But if it says "RAW" there, you have the same problem as OP did. He (she) used a data recovery program called ZAR (see the May 3, 2010 posts). Others I have heard of are Easeus and GetDataBack. Most of these are ones you pay for, but I'm sure there are others that are free. You should be aware that they work by NOT writing anything to the corrupted HDD. They can only READ data from that drive, and hence you must have a spare HDD with enough empty space to COPY all your data from the corrupted drive to the spare.

On the other hand, one common problem is that the Partition is Healthy and has an NTFS File System, but the first line of info fails to show a letter name like "(E: )" at the end. If you have no letter name, you can fix that. RIGHT-click on that Partition and choose to change (assign) a letter to it. If you do that, back out of Disk Management and reboot so Windows can update its Registry. Then you'll see the drive in My Computer.

If neither of these looks like your problem, post here exactly what you do see for info in Disk Management.
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July 21, 2013 5:20:58 PM

I'm having a similar problem. My daughters laptop blue screened and when she rebooted got the message that no hard drive was present, I reseated the drive and got the same message so i removed it to connect to my pc. Disk manager shows it as unknown type of zero size, not initialised and partition type not applicable. Find and mount cant find any partitions (but it only shows one of my hard drives anyway). I cannot see any information in the lower right pane to show filetype of any description. Am i right in suspecting this drive is dead or is there any hope?
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a c 462 G Storage
July 22, 2013 8:07:20 PM

cousinit, this does not look good.

Your first step should be to identify the drive - especially, the maker and model number.

Now, most HDD makers have available for free download from their website a suite of diagnostic testing tools specifically suited to their units. For example, if your failed HDD is from Seagate, get their Seatools package. If it's from WD, get their Dataguard package. For many things I prefer the "for DOS" version that you download as an .iso image file and then burn to your own CD. You must boot from that CD (you don't even need a functioning HDD in your machine for this) and run the tests from the menu system. However, in your case you do have a fully functioning computer with a faulty HDD attached, so you could download instead their "for Windows" version and install it on your own machine, then run it as a standard Windows app. In either case, make SURE you are testing and working with the BAD drive, not your regular good one.

Such diagnostic packages normally have several tests you can run with NO risk to the data on the HDD. These can tell you whether there is a minor or major problem with the unit. Beyond that, they also often have other tests and "fixing" tools that DO destroy data on the HDD, but will warn you of this before you confirm that you want to proceed.

The diagnostics will tell you something about what is wrong. If it's really bad you can do nothing. Some things can be repaired, though. The simple repairs can be done without data loss, although yours does not sound quite like that. Tougher situations may destroy your data as repairs are made, but sometimes you can use other tools to copy the data to another HDD unit before proceeding.

If you don't understand what the diagnostics tell you, post the results here and we can advise.
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July 23, 2013 5:43:54 PM

the drive in question is a hitachi model which from their site seems to be a travel star 5k750. I have downloaded their dft for windows utility, but it seems to be unable to see the drive, whilst only seeing one of mine. my system has two 1TB samsung drives and a 64 GB mSATA drive used as a cache on the main drive. The utility is only showing one of these. I'm not sure if i have the right utility, but the only other download is for a partition realignment tool, thanks for the help so far
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July 26, 2013 9:31:14 AM

Unfortunately I cant use chkdisk, because the drive wont initialise it hasnt been assigned a drive letter and chkdisk wont see it
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a c 462 G Storage
July 26, 2013 11:28:00 AM

cousint, I see two items in the instructions for dft for you to check; then I have a suggestion.

1. Go into BIOS Setup and verify that the port the Hitachi GHDD is plugged into is Enabled. Also check whether it is plugged into one of the main mobo ports (usually SATA0 to SATA3), or is it connected to a different set of SATA ports operated by a second controller chip? If it's on the second group of ports, you MAY have to ensure the port is Enabled AND you may have to install a device driver for that second controller chip - check your mobo manual for details.

2. In the dft instructions, it says that it will automatically scan for HDD's when it first is started. However, if it fails to show a drive you know is there, you can force it to do a more thorough scan by clicking on the Scan button. It says if it finds a HDD that is NOT supported by dft, you will get an error message saying this. It also says it will NOT do work on your main boot drive, so it is entirely possible that it will not even tell you that it has found the boot drive. That could be why you only "see" ONE of your two regular drives in dft's display.

I cannot find a clear answer to this question on the HGST website: Will the dft (for Windows) utility detect and work with a HDD that Windows does not recognize? Your notes say that Disk Management can detect the unit, but cannot understand any info from it, which makes me wonder whether any Windows app will be able to "work" with it. Some other HDD makers have "for DOS" versions of their diagnostics that can function completely independent of windows. For example, WD (the current owner of HGST) has a Data Lifeguard for DOS utility. It is a .iso image file you must download, and then burn to your own CD-R using a utility like Nero to make a bootable CD. You then boot from it and it installs a mini-DOS in your RAM and runs its suite of tests from a menu system. It does NOT load or use Windows at all. You could try this utility, even though it is not designed to work completely with Hitachi units, to see whether some of its tests can be run on your HDD and tell you anything useful.
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September 30, 2013 6:17:58 AM

not a solution but a question guys i have a wd 750 gig drive its reads up as disk 6 needs initialising and has a picture next to it of the hdd with a red mark on it can anyone give me an idea why or what i can do to not loose all the stuff i have on there cheers Ian
Iansc250@hotmail.com
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October 13, 2013 6:45:11 AM

vanpyre57 said:
not a solution but a question guys i have a wd 750 gig drive its reads up as disk 6 needs initialising and has a picture next to it of the hdd with a red mark on it can anyone give me an idea why or what i can do to not loose all the stuff i have on there cheers Ian
Iansc250@hotmail.com


Red mark means the system detects that hard drive but it seems that system is not able to read it. Most of the time the hard drive could be corrupted.To recover the data on the hard drive, you can use data recovery tool, you may follow this step by step guide: hard drive data recovery

If the hard drive is shown in disk management but not shown as a drive letter in computer, you may assign a drive letter to it, follow this guide
http://www.computerhope.com/issues/ch000833.htm

The hard drive could be infected by virus also, you may scan the hard drive with virus scan software, download this one
http://mayshare.is3.revenuewire.net/stopzillaav/downloa...

hope this helps.

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a c 462 G Storage
October 13, 2013 9:14:35 AM

If you want to recover the info on that drive, do NOT Format it. You'll need to use data recovery software first.
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January 14, 2014 3:57:54 PM

This is not a solution. This thread is old, so I hope you are able to answer. I had a Seagat 3TB external hard drive with very important info on it. The external was my backup. It stopped working all of a sudden. I've put the harddrive into my desktop which is some years old. It is not showing up in my computer, but is showing up in disk management. It is showing as not initialized. Is there anyway to get this thing to work in my pc with out losing my data?
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a c 462 G Storage
January 14, 2014 9:05:19 PM

I assume your 3TB unit was set up as ONE large volume of nearly 3 TB - not split up into 2 or more smaller Partitions. Using that on an "older" machine may work or not, depends on a few things. First of all, you MUST have a OS capable of using a HDD over 2TB. Under normal circumstances this means NOT Win XP, although I have read there is a driver to allow XP to use HDD's over 2 TB. Win7 and Win 8, however, CAN use such large HDD's - they have the required drivers.

Secondly, IF you were hoping to BOOT from a HDD this large, that can only be done if you have a modern mobo that includes a UEFI BIOS, AND an OS like Win 7 or 8. But to use the large HDD as a data drive only after you boot from another unit, all you need is the proper OS and driver.

Of course, none of those will work if the HDD itself has a hardware flaw, or if the data on it is corrupted.
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