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Summary :

Files not showing in external hard drive

Sometimes, you might find that some files are not showing up in the external hard drive. In the following contents, we will discuss about the possible causes and solutions, as well as an effective and reliable way to recover data for the external hard drive.

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Problem – Files Not Showing in External Hard Drive

Although external hard drives have brought as great convenience in daily life and work, there are chances that they might fail to display some of their files or even seem to have lost them completely, despite the disk capacity in disk properties being shown as utilized.

find nothing in external drive

You will be able to tell that it is indeed your files utilizing that space in the external drive if you have a general impression of how much space your data occupies.

But here is the problem - people sometimes find their files not showing in external hard drive and get anxious; they are afraid of losing the important files forever. What is really happening when this issue is present? Can you fix it or rescue the missing data here?

I will answer those questions for you. Now, let's start with rescuing files missing from external hard drive with MiniTool Power Data Recovery.

When data recovery is done, I will explain the possible causes for files not showing problem and then give corresponding solutions. In the last section, I am going to help you know more about the external hard drive you use.

Recover Data from External Hard Drive

When you finally discover that some files are missing from external hard drive or even a partition in it is damaged/lost, you must conduct data recovery on external hard drive right away.

files are missing from external hard drive

In this case, please stop writing any new data into the external hard drive and then follow the operations below to recover data with MiniTool Power Data Recovery easily. This software will light the hope of data recovery as long as the external hard drive is not physically damaged.

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Tip: Please read Recover Files From Dead External Hard Drive With Actionable Way carefully if your external hard drive has become dead/corrupted.

3 Steps to Recover Data from External Hard Drive

When you find that some useful files not showing in external hard drive are actually lost, please adopt MiniTool Power Data Recovery immediately.

Then, follow this tutorial to recover data.

Step 1: connect the external hard drive to computer. Launch MiniTool Power Data Recovery, and then choose Hard Disk Drive.

choose Hard Disk Drive

Step 2: select the target external hard drive from the right side and click on the Scan button.

scan target external hard drive

Note: If your external hard drive is not shown here, please turn to External Hard Drive Doesn't Appear - How To Fix & Recover Data to find out the possible reasons.

Step 3: during the scan, you can see more and more files being found by the software. Now, you can browse them one by one to check the ones you need and then choose a safe location to store them by pressing the “Save” button. After that, click on the OK button to confirm your selection. Soon, the data you choose will be recovered to the appointed location.

tick the needed files to recover

Please note that if you’re using the trial edition, you’ll see the following interface that prevents you from saving any of the found files.

can’t recover files

When you can confirm that all data you need are recovered successfully to another device and all the existing files have been backed up, you can choose to format the external hard drive in order to use it again. Additionally, you may follow the methods given below to try to fix the current external drive.

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How to fix when external hard drive stops working?

external hard drive not working thumbnail
External Hard Drive Not Working – Analysis & Troubleshooting

A relatively comprehensive analysis & fix plan about external hard drive not working issue are given here to help people get out of trouble.

Read More

Why Can't See Files in External Hard Drive & How to Solve

I find files missing from external hard drive become a frequently discussed issue in many forums. So there must be some ideas that catch the point.

Based on this, I decide to make a list of the possible reasons and useful suggestions for users to refer to. Here, I have summarized 4 main causes as well as the solutions in Windows 7 through internet searching and actual operations.

Possible cause 1 – the files are hidden.

Sometimes, the files are not really missing from external hard drive; they’re just hidden and not being shown. Here are 4 solutions to unhide them.

Solution 1:

  1. Type cmd to the search box and press Enter.
  2. Right click on the exe and select Run as administrator.
  3. Input DIR/A x:-s (x refers to the drive letter of your external hard drive). The meaning of this command is: list the non-system files in x: drive.
  4. If this command returns nothing, it means your folder has been marked as protected system files, and then you can refer to the second solution.

run cmd.exe

Solution 2: check whether the files are endowed with system property.

  1. Run control folders, or go to Control Panel and Appearance and Personalization.
  2. You can see the window Folder Options.
  3. In view tab, check show hidden files, folders, and drives and uncheck Hide protected operating system files (Recommended).
  4. Then check whether the files/folders are there.

run Control folders

check to show hidden files

Tip: If the checkbox is not optional, you can run "cmd", and input "attrib -H -S X:\folder name /s /d" (X: means the specific drive letter of the external hard drive and can be replaced by D:, E:, F: etc.) Then press "Enter" to make it optional. Please pay attention to the space between the commands.

Solution 3: 

  1. If your files keep missing from the external hard d drive, run cmd and press Enter key.
  2. Then, if the hard drive letter is O:, you should enter this command: attrib -h -r -s /s /d o:*.*.
  3. Finally, check if the real files will be showed.

run command in cmd

Solution 4: 

If all solutions above failed, try the following process which is most complex:

  1. Run cmd.
  2. Type the location of the external hard drive. Example: "d:", "e:", "f:", etc.
  3. Type dir /ah. You will now see the files/folders with hidden attributes.
  4. Type attrib [name of file/folder] -r -a -s -h.
  5. You should repeatedly type dir /ah after un-hiding some files/folders so you know if the files/folders are now appearing or hiding.
  6. Finally check your external hard drives, all data should be there.

Please note:

  • If you're going to unhide files, you should type the whole name plus the expanded-name. Example for file named party: attrib party.jpg -r -a -s -h.
  • If you have folder names with 6 characters or more, type the first 6 characters followed by "~1". Example for folder named birthday: attrib birthd~1 -r -a -s -h.

Possible cause 2 – there are file system errors.

In some cases, the files may be not showing in external hard drive because the file system is corrupted or because it doesn't contain a recognized file system. At this time, you had better recover data from external hard drive firstly.

Here's how to confirm:

  1. Right click on the external hard drive.
  2. Choose Properties.
  3. Select Tools tab and click on the Check now button.
  4. Check Automatically fix file system errors from the pop-up window.
  5. Click on the Start button to begin and wait for the process.

Automatically fix file system errors

Possible cause 3 – “CheckedValue” is suffering from virus infection.

Here’s how to fix:

  1. Run Regedit.
  2. Then, follow this route in Registry Editor: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\Folder\Hidden\SHOWAL.
  3. Check whether the data value of CheckedValue is 1.
  4. If NOT, delete CheckedValue, create a new DWOR in the blank and rename it as CheckedValue. After that, modify the value data as 1.

find CheckedValue

modify the value

Possible cause 4 – the mirror image in memory is damaged.

Sometimes the mirror image in memory is damaged and the operating system does not respond a timely refresh, which happens by chance.

How to fix: restart the computer and then reconnect the external hard drive to check if the actual files are shown.

Note: Relatively speaking, this is not a very reliable solution, and only works occasionally, because it happens occasionally.

That's all for the solutions. In fact, each solution has helped many users get rid of files not showing in external hard drive problem, and I also hope they are helpful for you.

2 Cases for Missing Files from External Hard Drive

But what's the real story? How exactly did they disappear? These kinds of questions are all over the internet. The following mentioned examples are just a drop in the bucket. 

Case 1:

I have a problem with my external hard disk. I saved some school documents on my drive. When I got to the school computer to copy my home task, then I noticed all my folders went missing, except ones that are not in folder. I still have my used memory, but can't see my folders. Please help me!shegzy4 from Makeuseof

Case 2:

Hey guys I have a problem with my external hard drive ... 2 days ago I've bought a new laptop and when I plugged my hard drive into it to install some games I found that it doesn't contain anything except 2 files. Also it shows 900 GB used space and this means that my old files are still there. So please help me return them back because I need them. By the way I've tried showing hidden folders and everything in folder options.Sarooo from Tomshardware

Faced with such confusion, most users behave like ants on hot bricks, while some users skillfully find that if they try to type the path or address of a specific folder, it opens. However, typically you have stored large numbers of files and folders in the external hard drive and you cannot remember all names of folders…So any better idea? 

Tip: At this time, you are suggested to adopt MiniTool Power Data Recovery Free Edition to finish data recovery by using methods introduced in WD External Hard Drive Data Recovery Is Easy Enough.

Learn More about External Hard Drive

Different from internal hard drive, an external hard drive is a portable storage device that can be attached to a computer via USB, eSATA, or Firewire. External hard drives typically have high storage capacities and are often used to back up computers.

Having our videos, pictures and other large files copied to an external hard drive is a safe way to back up things. Besides, external hard drive is always acting as a data storage medium and transmission medium, thus you don't have to carry on computers with you everywhere. 

data transmission medium

External Hard Drive Becomes a Necessity in Modern Life

External hard drive enjoys many advantages when compared to other storage devices, so they are getting more and more closely to our daily life. Today people are accustomed to bring an external hard drive with us in case of data transmission, such as to deal with working paper between office and home.

external hard drive is a necessity

By using external hard drive, you can avoid the network requirement, the uploading and downloading process, and time. But, if your families share one computer with you at home, there will be a big risk of data loss. So backing up important data to external hard drive becomes a wise choice.

During the process of using external hard drives, you will inevitably encounter some difficulties, "external hard drive doesn’t appear in My Computer" and "files not shown in external hard drive". I have laid my emphasis on the second issue in this post.

Characteristics That Make External Hard Drive Popular

External hard drives usually have the following advantages in common: 

  • Small volume: an external hard drive is usually several inches in size, such as 2.5 inches, 3.5 inches in common.
  • Large capacity: external hard drives always adopt large capacity and the unit is always Terabyte.
  • High speed: external hard drive connected via Firewire usually works at high speed, which makes it rather easy to transfer data between computer and external hard drives.
  • Portability: since external hard drives have small volume, it is available to carry them everywhere.
  • Easy to use: external hard drive is very easy to handle. It can be applied in both Windows & Mac and will be automatically detected in a few seconds. Then you can use it like internal hard drive.
  • Lower cost per GB: the price of external hard drive is getting lower and lower due to proven technique. Normally you only spend several cents per GB on an external hard drive.

characteristics of external hard drive

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Bottom Line

I have noticed "files not showing in external hard drive" is a frequently asked question in many forums. Therefore, in this post I have summarized almost all feasible solutions for users who have got a headache on this issue.

Remember, external hard drives today have become indispensable medium for us to deal with data backup, privacy protection, data transmission, and so on, so you need to pay more attention to the operations you have made during the usage to avoid unnecessary trouble.

What's more? Once something unlucky happens and leads to serious data loss, you should stop all operations and turn to reliable solutions quickly, so as to ensure the largest possibility for data recovery.

Files Not Showing in External Hard Drive FAQ

How do I fix my external hard drive not being recognized?
Actually, there are many reasons that an external hard drive can't be recognized by computer: insufficient/unstable power supply, missing driver letter or drive letter conflict, file system corruption, broken USB port, etc. You should find the exact reason and take measures to fix.
How do I show hidden files on my external hard drive Windows 10?
  1. Open File Explorer the way you like.
  2. Select View from the menu bar.
  3. Click Options and choose Change folder and search options.
  4. Go to the View tab and look for the Advanced settings area.
  5. Check Show hidden files, folders, and drives and click OK.
How do I find pictures on my hard drive?
Also, you need to open Windows Explorer by clicking on This PC/Computer. Then, you should type kind:=picture into the search box located in the upper right corner to search all partitions on the hard drive for pictures. Wait until the search is over.
How do I transfer everything from my computer to an external hard drive?
Microsoft provides a useful tool to help users transfer programs and data easily. Just click on the search icon/box -> type Windows Easy Transfer -> Select An External Hard Disk or USB Flash Drive as the target drive to store data -> click to install to external hard drive.
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