How to initialize a hard drive in Windows 7

If you install a new hard drive in your PC you must first initialize the hard drive in Windows 7. This can be done via a GUI, so even beginners can do it. Here’s how.

How to initialize a hard drive in Windows 7

1. StepClick on Start and right-click on the entry Computer on your Start menu

2. Step Click on Manage

Manage computer in Windows 7

3. Step Double-click on Storage, then on Disk Management(Local)
4. Step You will be prompted with a message. You now have to decide which partition style you want to use for the selected disk. This can be either MBR (Master Boot Record) or GPT (GUID Partition Table).

Unless you use a drive that is larger than 2TB (Terabyte) use the partition style MBR. GUID/GPT is only readable by Windows XP 64-bit, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2003. And only Itanium systems can boot from such a disk. So, if you don’t know what GPT is you will not need it.

5. Step Next, you will see a list of your current hard drives. All disk with a blue bar have allocated disk space and are primary partitions. In order to initialize a hard drive, you need to allocate the disk space.

So, right-click on the hard drive with the black bar and click on New Simple Volume:

Initialize New Hard Drive: Add Volume

6. StepA wizard will guide you through the initialization process

7. Step Enter the amount of MB you want to allocate. By default it will use all available disk space

Allocate disk space

8. StepAssign a new drive letter to the drive is also part of the initialization process:

Assign drive letter to a hard drive

9. Step Instead of New Volume enter a name for the hard drive, something that will clearly identify what the purpose is. By default the option “Perform a quick format” is selected, which is recommended. If you want to save disk space, also select Enable file and folder compression.

Format hard drive and volume label

10. Step Finally, review your disk initialization information and click on Finish. If you noticed a wrong setting, you can always go back and change it. Even after clicking on finish you can still change the volume size, label, drive letter and enable compression on it.

Finish hard drive initialization

11. Voilà, you have successfully initialized your new hard drive, Disk 2 now has a blue bar (primary partition)

initialized hard drive

If you still have problems initializing a hard drive or if you are unsure about some of the settings, post your question below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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- Cheers!

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Oliver is the founder and lead editor of this site. He is interested in finding new ways to break Windows, find common errors and help others to fix them. Aside from that, he loves to fully customize systems with Rainmeter and Dreamscene, find out more about ancient civilizations like the Chachapoya, sharpen his digital photography skills and create software with a small group of selected developers. If you would like to connect with him to discuss anything, send him a mail!

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9 Responses to How to initialize a hard drive in Windows 7

  1. Orange Community Approved Comment:
    Miles said:

    Just the help I needed thank you so very very much

  2. Orange Community Approved Comment:
    Tom Walters said:

    I received a new laptop and it included a solid state “c” drive along with an external 500GB drive. The external drive was partitioned by the seller. I would like to re-partition the drive to fit my needs. Is this possible using the above info or is there another set of steps I need to do this.

    System is Win 7 64 bit.


  3. Orange Community Approved Comment:
    James Harris Williams said:

    Finally, someone has given clear and precise instructions on adding a new HD. When I built my first computer, I installed three HD’s, because I wanted plenty of program room for graphics design. It took me three times to get it right, because the instructions were nearly incomprehensible. I wish I had your method available to me then. When I build another computer, I will have your instructions to make things easier. Thanks!

  4. Orange Community Approved Comment:
    Jim said:

    You’re making it too complicated. Just install the drive, make sure device manager sees it and put (in my case) Partition Wizard to work to take care of the unallocated space on the drive and format it in NTFS. You can even set the drive letter before formatting if you want something different than the next letter in line. That’s all it takes.

  5. Orange Community Approved Comment:
    MUHAMMAD said:

    please i try to initialize following the step listed above but it does work, my drive cannot give option NEW SYMPLE VOLUME when i write click, PLEASE HELP ME OUT.THANKS

  6. Orange Community Approved Comment:
    chiye said:

    my external drive is prompting me to initialise while it has data which am need of. how can I recover the data

  7. Orange Community Approved Comment:
    TFolsom said:

    I have a new 3TB Barracuda which initialized, with VISTA, showing only 748GB. Is this a hardwareproblem or a problem with the initialization process. This is the second HD I have had the problem with, with this HW and VISTA O/S. Thanks

  8. Orange Community Approved Comment:
    Michael said:

    Hi, problem. I go to Disk Management, and I do not get a message prompt. The computer spots my HD, but I just don’t get a message prompt. Thanks.

  9. Orange Community Approved Comment:
    cc said:

    Thanks for very helpful how-to.

    I also did not get the New Simple Volume menu item – after rescanning a few times it finally appeared – you might want to consider adding a comment in that step…


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