WDBACW0020HBK-01 factory partition style

I have a WDBACW0020HBK-01 with a WD20EARX that no longer is initialized.
A few web sites suggest that by re-initializing the HD, I may be able to recover the data.
Does anybody know which partition style it came from the factory with, MBR or GPT?

Most (if not all) WD External Hard drives are factory partitioned GPT

MBR is old hat … only supports up to 2TB

Note: re-initializing or “initializing” a hard drive effectively formats it wiping all the data.

you may be able to recover the data after doing it … but there are no guarantees.

As a test years ago, i formatted a 1TB hard drive and then ran data recovery software on it … recovered about 80~90% of data, and it took a hell of a long time (from memory, was something like 12~16 hours)

Always best practice to have another hard drive as a backup … to avoid having to run data recovery or expensive data recovery services.

For every hard drive i own … i have another duplicate one containing the same data.

The “My Book Essential” 2TB is older than a “My Book” 2TB that I have. The “My Book” shows an MBR partition type. So, I am guessing that the “My Book Essential” also came with an MBR partition type. Do I take a chance? (Note: I am not re-formatting, but just re-initializing.)
Also, I am reading that once the MBR is re-written, I can still read the disk data using special disk recovery software. Has anybody tried this? If so, which is the best software out there?

Yes you are.

If Windows is saying “initialize disk” and you proceed to do it, it will wipe ALL data on the hard drive by re-formatting the partition.

Choosing either MBR or GPT will make Zero difference to your Data Recovery chances…

What does initialize disk mean?

Initialize disk means to erase the data on a disk and make it usable.


I see your Stella, and I raise you EaseUS and RecoverIt:


See section: “Does Initializing a Disk Erase Data”


See section: “Part 3. How to Fix Disk Unknown, Not Initialized, Unallocated Problem”

There is a lot of confusion out there. This is how I see it:

When Stella says, “Initialize disk means to erase the data on a disk and make it usable,” they are both right and wrong. They are right in that initializing a disk makes the user data not accessible by ordinary means. They are wrong, since initialization does not destroy user data. There is no reason for initialization to write over sectors that contain user data. However, to access that data requires software that bypasses the OS, and reads the sectors directly. But, making sense of which sectors belong to which files is not an easy task. It takes very clever software to do the job, and may be impossible in certain situations.

Now, the definitions of “initializing” and “formatting” I am taking from Windows Disk Management. Under Disk Management, “initializing” I take to mean “what happens when you click ‘Initialize Disk’,” and “formatting” I take to mean “what happens when you click ‘Format…’.” Disk Management will not give you the option to initialize a formatted disk, and will not give you the option to format a non-initialized disk (at least in Windows 10, that I can see).

I got up the courage to try initializing the disk, and I got the error, “The request could not be performed because of an I/O device error.” So, the disk probably has serous problems that can’t be fixed with software only.

I can see where there is a possibility that a few user data sectors will be overwritten - when re-initialization is not done exactly the same way as is was done previously - especially when you re-initialize using GPT when it was previously MBR. The answer is to do data recovery before initialization, if possible.

Sometimes, my mind starts churning overnight - I hate when that happens!

In rare cases, re-initializing can help bring a disk back to life, but, much more likely, it will just add more confusion for the data recovery software. It is better to let good data recovery software sort out which situation you are in.

Also, I found this web site, which attempts to explain initialization vs formatting, but it really doesn’t:

Things are usually more complicated than they seem at first.