Solved – Files Not Showing In External Hard Drive Doesn't Have To Be Difficult

Problem – Files Not Showing in External Hard Drive

Although external hard drive has brought us great convenience in daily life and work, there are chances when we open an external hard drive and find nothing in it or some files are missing. However, the disk properties prove that a section of disk capacity is taken by something.

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If we still have a general impression of how much space our data occupies in the external hard drive, we can almost tell these things are the files we stored in the external hard drive.

Look, here's the problem – sometimes, we find files not showing in external hard drive and then get anxious, being afraid of losing important files forever. What's really happening when such problem occur? Can we fix it or rescue missing data here?

We'll answer those questions for you. Now, let's start with rescuing files missing from external hard drive with MiniTool Power Data Recovery – a piece of wonderful but free file recovery software.

When data recovery is done, we'll explain the possible causes for files not showing problem and then give corresponding solutions. And in the last part, we'll help you get to know more about the external hard drive you use.

Recover Data from External Hard Drive

When you finally discover 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.

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In this case, please stop writing any new data into the external hard drive and then follow the operations we'll mention in the next part to recover data with MiniTool Power Data Recovery easily. Believe it or not, this software will light the hope of data recovery as long as the external hard drive is not physically damaged.

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Please read Recover Files From Dead External Hard Drive With Actionable Way carefully if your external hard drive becomes dead/corrupted unluckily.

3 Steps to Recover Data from External Hard Drive

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

Then, follow this tutorial to recover data. (We take how to recover data from a damaged external hard drive as an example)

Step 1: connect the external hard drive to computer. Launch MiniTool Power Data Recovery, and then choose "Damaged Partition Recovery".

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Step 2: choose the damaged partition of the external hard drive to have a full scan.

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Note: if your external hard drive is not shown here, you may choose to "Refresh" the list; if it still does not appear, please turn to USB Flash Drive Not Recognized – Don't Worry Too Much to know the possible reasons.

Step 3: when the scan is finished, we can see all our files are listed there. Now we can browse them one by one to tick the needed ones and then choose a safe location to store them. Soon, the data we choose will be recovered to the appointed location.

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Note: when you can confirm that all data you need are recovered successfully to another device, you may follow the methods given below to try to fix the current external drive.

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

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

4 Causes That Can Be Fixed Directly in Windows

Possible cause 1 – the files are hidden: sometimes, the files are not really missing from external hard drive; they're just hidden, not showing to us. And here are 4 solutions to unhide them.

  • Run "cmd" and press "Enter" key. Input "DIR/A x:-s" (X refers to the drive letter of our external hard drive). The meaning of this command is: list the non-system files in X: drive.
  • If this command returns nothing, it means our folder has been marked as "protected system files", and then we can refer to the second solution.

  • Check whether the files are endowed with system property: run "Control folders" or go to Appearance and Personalization under Control Panel, and then we can see the window Folder Options.
  • In view tab, check "show hidden files, folders, and drives" and uncheck "Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)". Then check whether our files/folders are there.

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If the checkbox is not optional, we 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.

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

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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". We will now see the files/folders with hidden attributes.
4. Type "attrib [name of file/folder] -r -a -s -h".

If we're going to unhide files, we should type the whole name plus the expanded-name. Example for file named "party": "attrib party.jpg -r -a -s -h";
If we 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";

5. We should repeatedly type "dir /ah" after un-hiding some files/folders so we know if the files/folders are now appearing or hiding.
6. Finally check our external hard drives, all data should be there.

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Possible cause 2 – 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, users had better recover data from external hard drive firstly.

Here's how to confirm: right click the external hard drive and choose "Properties". In tools tab click "Check now" and check "Automatically fix file system errors". Then click "Start" and wait for the end.

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After a successful data recovery was made, you can choose to format the external hard drive directly in order to use it again.

Possible cause 3 – "CheckedValue" is suffering from virus infection.
Here's how to fix:

Step 1: run "Regedit" and then, follow this route in Registry Editor:

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Step 2: check whether the data value of "CheckedValue" is "1". If NOT, delete "CheckedValue", create a new "DWOR" in the blank and rename it as "CheckedValue". After that, modify the value data as "1".

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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 real 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 we 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? Such kinds of questions are all over the internet. The following mentioned examples are just a drop in the bucket.

"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!"
– by shegzy4 from Makeuseof

"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."
– by 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 we have stored large numbers of files and folders in the external hard drive and we cannot remember all names of folders…So any better idea?

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At this time, you are suggested to adopt MiniTool Power Data Recovery Free Edition to finish data recovery by using methods introduced in If This Can't Help You with Free USB Data Recovery, Nothing Will.

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 data transmission medium, thus we don't have to carry on computers with us everywhere.

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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 we 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.

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By using external hard drive, we avoid the network requirement, the uploading and downloading process, and time. But, if our families share one computer with us 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, we will inevitably encounter some difficulties, "external hard drive not shown in My Computer" and "files not shown in external hard drive". So in this post, we are going to talk about the second issue: why we can't see files in external hard drive. And we'll explain how to show those missing files in external hard drive beyond all doubt.

Characteristics That Makes 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 drive has small volume, it is available to carry them everywhere.
  • Ease of 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 users 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 we only spend several cents per GB on an external hard drive. For example, WD Black 6TB costs around $300, which is approximately equal to 5 cents per GB – much cheaper than a USB flash drive.

Bottom Line

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

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

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

Common problems related to partition recovery and our solutions: