Recover Data From HDD Shows As Unknown Without Damaging It

Computer becomes more and more indispensable in our life; it’s an essential medium for saving important personal/study/business files, acquiring information from every corner of the world, keeping in touch with others and exchanging ideas with other people. Accurately speaking, computer is the best choice of many users for data storage, data management and working.

HDD shows as unknown 1 Among the computer compositions, hard disk drive (HDD) is the most significant one. During the continuous use of computer, a plenty of problems, such as inaccessible partition, mysterious data loss and HDD shows as unknown error or uninitialized/unallocated/RAW, may appear beyond all expectations. In order to avoid unnecessary disk problems as much as possible, computer users are intensively advised to make use of Disk Management (DM) to supervise and control disks & partitions.

About Disk Management

In a nutshell, the Windows built-in Disk Management tool is used to prepare and manage disks & partitions on computer. With this tool, users are able to complete some basic drive management operations on their own.

HDD Shows as Unknown – 4 Different Types

All kinds of disk errors may easily appear during the using process of computer. If you searched this in Google, you’ll be even surprised by some questions. Currently, we find a large number of users saying that their HDD shows as unknown and the details of their issues are quite different. They’re struggling to find a powerful way to recover data from unknown disk completely. Now, we’re going to analyze 5 different kinds of disk unknown errors for users’ reference

1.Bad disk: sometimes, your hard drive may become a bad disk suddenly. If you had a power outage while the disk is still running or had been attacked by virus, it's easy that your disk won’t show up in Windows Explorer even if you restart computer successfully. At this time, we suggest users to open Disk Management to find out whether this disk can be detected there.

If this disk is shown as unallocated or be marked as not initialized, users can open MiniTool Partition Wizard free edition to get hands on more details.

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In above picture, we can see that users’ “Not initialized” disk is shown as “Read Only” in partition Wizard, which means this disk may be write protected somehow. And it is also shows as a bad disk. This means there must be some problem with the disk. Now, before you are going to perform any operations, please make there’s no useful data on this disk. Otherwise, you ought to recover files from bad disk firstly in order to avoid secondary damage and permanent data loss.

2.HDD shows as RAW: as a senior user who have used computer for a long time, this situation may be not strange to you – when you try to use one of your disks, you find it becomes inaccessible in Windows Explorer; you fail to enter the disk after double clicking on it. Instead, you may see a prompt window, saying that you need to format the disk before you can use it.

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If you enter Disk Management at this time, you may find your HDD is shown as RAW, without a file system. This kind of situation will happen when your file system of HDD is corrupted due to certain reasons. But please remember, you can’t agree to format this disk as required unless all data saved there are of no use.

3.HDD shows as unallocated: in this case, you’ll be not able to see your disk in Windows Explorer. But in Windows Disk Management, it may be displayed in two forms.

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  • The first one is that, the disk type is Basic, but all space on the disk is now turned into unallocated. This is similar to the disk which is initialized but includes no formatted partition. Indeed, it indicates, all of your previous partitions are lost. Of course, you’re allowed to create simple, spanned, stripped, mirrored volume on this disk and make it appear in Windows Explorer, but all of those could damage your original data if your entire disk is turned into unallocated all out of a sudden.

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  • The second case is that your HDD shows as Not Initialized in DM. Likewise, all space of this disk is marked as unallocated. This is similar to the disk which is bought lately and you have no time to initialize it yet. If you right click on this disk, a pop-up menu will appear and the first option on it is “Initialize Disk”.

    However, when users’ disk is not initialized anymore due to sudden change, we don’t suggest them to initialize the disk to make it usable again until you have got back all your missing data from it.

In both cases, users are highly recommended to recover data from unallocated drive ahead of doing anything else.

4.HDD is offline: also, when your HDD is set offline, it won't show up in “Computer”, which is often called as “Windows Explorer”. This phenomenon seems to be exactly the same with the situation where all your partitions on HDD are lost, but they are really not the same. This is caused basically by pressing “Offline” by mistake. Or when you’re under the attack of malicious programs, it may set your HDD to be offline.

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At this time, you have two choices to activate offline disk. Firstly, you could try opening DM. And then, right click on the target disk and choose “Online” to fix. Secondly, you can also open the free edition of the disk management tool we mentioned above right after downloading. Then, this tool will set your disk online automatically.

How to Recover Files from Unknown HDD

We’re pretty sure that, when users find their HDD is not accessible in computer, most of them will think of data recovery immediately, not how to fix the problem and make HDD appear. This fundamental reason is that data originally saved on this HDD are too important to be lost.

Users can’t throw in the towel. Instead, they should try every means possible to recover data from unknown disk. That’s what they really did. They put forward questions on all kinds of forums and send emails to different data recovery agencies, hoping that they can find a convenient, easy and safe way to work this out.

The good news is we can really make it a breeze. Now, we're going to walk you through the steps to recover data from HDD shown as unknown.

As you’re about to see, having a wonderful hard drive recovery tool would grease the wheels. Suppose that you have spent several days or even months to finish work files and finally save them in HDD, you must be very worried if you wake up one day and find your HDD shown as unknown. And we know you must be killed by the feeling of being going to lose those files and go all over again. Thus, MiniTool Power Data Recovery could definitely be your last ace and make it all too easy to regain missing files.

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Step 1:
Download MiniTool Power Data Recovery Free Edition to your computer and then install it to any of your drives (except the disk which is shown as unknown and has lost data waiting to be recovered). Remember, as long as your HDD is not damaged physically, you’ve got great chance to recover files from bad disk.

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Step 2: launch this data recovery software to enter its main window shown in above picture. Now, please click squarely on “Lost Partition Recovery” functional module, which is designed to recover files from deleted/lost partitions. That is because in all cases where HDD shows as unknown, partitions were lost and the entire disk becomes uninitialized/unallocated/RAW.

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Step 3:
Select the target HDD and press “Full Scan” to detect lost partitions & files.

Of course, if users’ target device is an external HDD and they didn’t connect it to computer until now, they should press “Refresh” button in the lower left corner to show the external HDD there. As for the “Settings” button, it could help users narrow their scanning range by searching for only appointed file system types or file types.

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Step 4:
At the end of full scan, all possible partitions found by MiniTool Power Data Recovery will be listed in order. And now users have to look through those partitions and select needed files one after another.

Of course, if they remembered the file name exactly, they could use “Find” function to navigate to certain files quickly. Or if users only need to recover certain types of files, they should enable “Filter” function to help accelerate the process.

Now, please press “Save” button and choose a proper storage location for the files going to be recovered. Wait patiently for the completion of data recovery. When all files are recovered to appointed place, a prompt window will appear, indicating that you can close the software and end the work to recover data from unknown disk.

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Notice:
If you’re using a free edition of MiniTool Power Data Recovery, you’ll be able to recover at most 1GB of data. Once the total size of selected files reached this limit, above “File Saving Limit” prompt window will show up at the moment when you click on “Save”. Here, you may either upgrade your free copy of MiniTool Power Data Recovery to other advanced editions or cancel this step and choose fewer files to recover.


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In fact, in addition to Free Edition, MiniTool Power Data Recovery also provides Personal License, Commercial License, Enterprise License and Technician License. The main functions of those editions are the same, but the usage limits of different licenses are different. You can find detailed information on our website.

By the way, if you suddenly discover one or more partitions (not all the partitions) on your HDD show as unknown (RAW, bad disk, unallocated, not initialized), you could just choose “Damaged Partition Recovery” from the main window of MiniTool Power Data Recovery to start data recovery work.

Common problems related to partition recovery and our solutions: