8 Fixes for External Hard Drive Uninitialized on Mac (Catalina Compatible)

2020-04-22 03:49:44 / Posted by Connie Wisley to Recover Follow @ Connie

An external hard drive is often purchased to extend the space of your Mac or Windows PC, for the first time of using a newly purchased external hard drive, like Seagate, you will be required to initialize the disk. But why there is still error about external hard drive uninitialized on mac and how to fix this?

To solve this, here are 8 fixes regarding External Hard Drive Uninitialized on mac. Also, you will learn about how to recover data from uninitialized external hard drive on mac, no matter which brand of external hard drive you are using.

What Does Uninitialized External Hard Drive Mean?

If there appears a message indicating uninitialized external hard drive, it has 2 meanings:

For 1st time user of a brand new external hard drive, you will be required to initialize the disk for use, if your mac shows it as initialized external hard drive when connecting, it means your new external hard drive is not activated and not ready for use, your mac needs to use its own language to assign a starting value to the variable of this external hard drive.

For users who have initialized the external hard drive before, uninitialized external hard drive means your mac cannot read your disk anymore and deems this risk is not accessible, while this happens in most of the cases when talking about uninitialized external hard drive. This can be caused by different reasons, keep reading to find out how this come out. 

Reasons for Uninitialized External Hard Drive

Reasons to cause uninitialized external hard drive vary but basically fall into following types:

  • Connection issue
  • Physical damages
  • Virus Attack
  • Partition Loss
  • Bad sectors
  • File system corruption

To fix uninitialized external hard drive caused under different situations, here we list 9 solutions as in following part, you can choose the one according to you need.

8 Fixes for Uninitialized External Hard Drive on Mac

#1 Restart Mac

When errors happen, no matter on your mac, Windows PC, iPhone or Android phone, you will be recommended to restart your device as the first aid, since restarting is the most magical method to put everything back to normal again.

You just need to unplug your external hard drive from your mac, then click the Apple icon>Restart, or press Command+Control+Power to restart your mac, then connect the hard drive to your mac again and check if this works.

#2 Reconnect External Hard Drive

Your Seagate or WD uninitialized external hard drive may be caused by connection issues, you can reconnect your external hard drive to mac by changing a USB port or use another USB cable, to make sure it is connected properly.

#3 Scan Virus

As we mentioned in the 2nd part, virus attack may lead to uninitialized disk, no matter there is virus attacking your mac or not, you can scan virus with an anti-virus program on your mac to make sure there is no harm from outside, trying to weaken your mac.

As for anti-virus program, you can try following:

  • Kaspersky
  • Norton
  • ESET
  • Bitdefender
  • Avast

#4 Fix with Disk Utility

Disk Utility is the free macOS program designed to manage and repair both internal & external hard drive, also, you can utilize Disk Utility to format and combine disks. For uninitialized external hard drive on mac, you can use Disk Utility as the first aid to kill this problem.

Steps to Fix Uninitialized External Hard Drive with Disk Utility 

  1. Go to Applications>Disk Utility, run the program;
  2. Choose your external hard drive name;fix with disk utility 01
  3. Click on First Aid>Run, repair the external hard drive on your mac;fix with disk utility 02
  4. Then check if the hard drive can be accessed to;

#5 Reinstall, Upgrade or Downgrade macOS

If the uninitialized external hard drive happens just after you upgrade or downgrade macOS, that may be the problem, the working environment has changed. In this case, you may need to reinstall macOS, upgrade or downgrade to original macOS version, get back the files from your external hard drive first, then install your preferred macOS.

Fix Uninitialized External Hard Drive with OS Reinstallation

  • Press Power button;
  • Once you hear the sound, press and hold Command+R;
  • In the macOS utilities interface, choose Reinstall macOS;reinstall to fix
  • Choose hard drive, click Install and wait for the installation to finish.

Fix Uninitialized External Hard Drive with OS Upgrade

If your external hard drive is displayed as Uninitialized after macOS downgrade, you will need to upgrade to your original macOS.

  1. Go to Mac Appstore;
  2. Click “Update”;
  3. Download and install the latest macOS;
  4. Restart your mac and plug your external hard drive for check.

Fix Uninitialized External Hard Drive with OS Upgrade 

(with TimeMachine Backup)

  1. Click Apple icon>Restart;
  2. Once you hear the startup sound, press and hold Command+R until the Apple logo appears;
  3. Choose Restore from a Time Machine Backup, click Continue;
  4. Choose your Time Machine backup disk;
  5. Choose the Time Machine backup to restore and follow the onscreen instructions;

#6 Format 

If above listed methods all fail to fix your uninitialized external hard drive on mac, maybe it is time to format it. To format the disk means erasing the data from your disk, a data recovery program will be needed to restore these formatted files, yes, this is risky, but it is an efficient way to fix your uninitialized disk.

Also, for your information, formatting doesn’t mean deleting files permanently, it refers to no portal is provided to find and access to these files anymore, they become invisible but is available for add new data. Once there is new data added, the previously formatted files won't be recovered anymore.

Steps to Fix Uninitialized External Hard Drive with Formatting

  1. Go to Disk Utility, run the program;
  2. Choose your external hard drive;
  3. Click Erase, choose name and format for your disk;fix with formatting
  4. Then click Erase;
  5. Find a data recovery program to recover files from formatted hard drive. (You can jump to the 3rd part for steps)

#7 Contact Support

Or the issue of uninitialized external hard drive is caused by physical damages of the disk, like loose or malfunctioned small elements in the hard disk, then you can contact the support staff from the supplier of your hard drive, especially your hard drive is still within the expiry date. If you are using Seagate or Western Digital or other famous brands of hard drive, it is quite easy to get contact with their support.

Just visit their official website, grab the contact information and have a call, or find out your receipt and contact as instructed on the file.

#8 Replace

If your hard drive is still in its life circle, fix 1 to fix 7 should have worked, but if failed, you just need a new one to replace this uninitialized hard drive. Before disposal, find a professional data recovery software to save the files into your mac or other storage devices, then buy yourself a new and better external hard drive.

Recover Data from Uninitialized External Hard Drive

What if you just lost the files in an uninitialized external hard drive? Take it easy, you can get them back. A data recovery software is designed to handle this.

The list of data recovery tools is long, but Cisdem’s won't ever let you down. Cisdem Data Recovery is a mac program enabling users to recover more than 200 types of file from both external and internal storage devices on mac, it provides 5 recovery mode to deal with data loss caused by different reason, like formatting, trash removing, external hard drive file loss, etc.

Steps to Recover Data from Uninitialized External Hard Drive on Mac

  1. Go to Disk Utility, run the program;
  2. Choose your external hard drive;
  3. Click Erase, choose name and format for your disk; recover data from uninitialized disk mac01
  4. Then click Erase;
  5. Download and install Cisdem Data Recovery to your mac;
    Free Download
  6. Run the program and choose External Drive Recovery mode;recover from uninitialized disk mac02
  7. Choose your external hard drive and click Scan to start scanning your hard drive; recover data from uninitialized disk mac 03
  8. Preview and recover files from your uninitialized external hard drive on mac;recover data from uninitialized disk mac 04

Extended: How Do I Initialize External Hard Drive on Mac

Then how to initialize an external hard drive for use? Actually, it is quite easy, because macOS can detect that if a hard drive is initialized or not, then lead you to the initialization.

1. Click on your external hard drive on mac;

2. Then continue with “Initialize” as following, done;


It is not that difficult to fix an uninitialized external hard drive as long as you figure out what caused this, then refer to above listed 8 fixes to get the problem solved. What’s the key is, how to recover the files from your uninitialized external disk even when you are locked out of the disk for now or forever, in this case, Data Recovery Software, like Cisdem will be the life savior.

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