Legacy External Not initializing

Hello everyone,

I have a rather old external drive (WD Combo) which has worked fine for years. I mostly use it to store photos etc, however recently it simply is not showing up in My Computer when I plug it in. It is not dead, it still spins and I see it under Device Manager and Disk Management.

In the Disk Management window it says that the drive is Not Initialized and is Unallocated. When I rightclick on it and hit Initialize Disk It would give me the error: “The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error”.

Any suggestions? This is quite clearly well out of warranty since I got it around 2005 or so.


Depending on the cause of the failure (which I do not know), data recovery software might work here. Ontrack EasyRecovery Pro, GetDataBack, Recover My Files, testdisk, hiren’s boot cd… These are all utilities that might help.

Of course, check cabling and try another computer.

And then there are professional recovery services that can get your information back. This sounds like it might be a simple failure. And the cheapest place I saw charges about $300 …

“I/O device error” sounds like a hardware fault. How does a utility such as HD Sentinel or CrystalDiskInfo identify the drive?

Does the HDD report its correct model number and full capacity?

Actually it doesn’t report it’s full capacity, it’s a 300gb drive which is only showing around 18gb as availible.

What utility is reporting that information?

Disk Management, I also ran GetDataBack NTSF and it gives me the same I/O error and shows only 18GB.

What do HD Sentinel and/or CrystalDiskInfo report? If your drive is a PATA model rather than SATA, then the problem may be as simple as oxidised contacts on the IDE interface, in which case you would only need to reseat the internal IDE cable. The Identify Device data from CrystalDiskInfo would be extremely useful in this regard. These data would identify the exact pin in the interface which is faulty or problematic.