By Bryce / Last Updated April 2, 2020

I can’t see the files on my external hard drive

“Hi, there is a problem with my external hard drive. I want to copy some files from it to my computer running Windows 7. But When I opened it, I found out that files have disappeared from hard drive, with "This folder is empty" message. When I went to “Properties”, the external hard drive shows used space. What’s wrong with my external hard drive? How can I solve files not showing in external hard drive problem? Is there any advice? Thanks a lot!”

Files not Showing in External Hard Drive

Why external hard drive shows used space but no files?

If your files are not showing up in external hard drive on Windows 7/8/10, you need to figure out why you can’t view the files on external hard drive. Five reasons are concluded as follows:

  • The files on the external hard drive are hidden.

  • The power supply of USB port is insufficient.

  • The file system of the external hard drive is corrupted.

  • Your external hard drive is attacked by or infected with virus.

  • The mirror image in memory is corrupted.

6 simple solutions for external hard drive files not showing

Since you have realized the possible causes of external hard drive showing used space but no files, you can refer to the following text to learn effective ways to settle such an issue.

Solution 1. Reboot your computer and reconnect your external hard drive

If the mirror image in memory is corrupted, the operating system may not respond and refresh in time. Then, the files in the external hard drive might not be presenting. At this time, you can try to restart your computer and reconnect the external hard drive to the machine. Then, you can return to File Explorer and open the external hard drive folder to see whether the files are showing.

Solution 2. Change the USB port that the external hard drive is connected to

If files still don’t appear in external hard drive, you can consider whether there is a problem with the USB port. When the power supply of the USB port that your external hard drive connected to is not enough, you may not see files on external hard drive. In such a case, you can connect the external hard drive to the USB port on the back of computer case. After that, to see if files show up in external hard drive.

Solution 3. Unhide hidden files on external hard drive

Actually, files disappearing can simply be caused by hiding files. If so, you can fix unhide files to solve this problem. Here are detailed steps.

1. Open File Explorer, click “File” or “Organize” on the top left corner and choose “Folder and search options

2. In the pop-up window, click “View”, choose “Show hidden files, folders and driver” and click on “Apply” button.

Show Hidden Files

3. Open external hard drive to see whether files and folders appear.

PS.: When you need to open certain folder, right-click it and choose “Prosperities”. Then, click “General”, uncheck “Hidden” and click on “OK” icon.

Or you can run “attrib -h -r -s /s /d n:\*.*” in Command Prompt to unhide hidden folders and files on the external hard drive. “n” refers to the drive letter assigned to the partition on the external hard drive.

Solution 4. Adjust settings in Registry Editor

If you still can’t see files in external hard drive after following steps aforementioned to show hidden files, try to adjust setting in Registry Editor. Follow the steps given below:

1. Press Windows + R simultaneously, input “regedit” and hit Enter key to access Registry Editor.

2. Go to the following path:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\Folder\Hidden\SHOWALL

3. Double click CheckedValue and make check whether the data value of it is “1”. If not, delete “CheckedValue” > right click SHOWALL folder > navigate to “New” > “DWORD” and name it CheckedValue > set the value data of it to “1”.

4. Now, you can check if you the files in external hard drive show.

Solution 5. Fix the file system errors via running CHKDSK

If files in external hard drive disappearing is the result of corrupted file system, you can follow the steps given below to run Check Disk tool. In File Explorer, right-click the external hard drive and navigate to “Prosperities” > “Tools” > “Check”.

Check Errors

After checking, the files and folders on external hard drive might appear.

PS.: It is also available to run Check Disk from Command Prompt.

Solution 6. Recover data from external hard drive and format it

If you are unable to enable files in external hard drive to show again, you can turn to certain data recovery software like iCare Data Recovery to retrieve data from external hard drive. After saving data, you can format your external hard drive to repair the external hard drive.

Here I advise you to try a great partition manager, AOMEI Partition Assistant, which allows you to format external hard drive, SD card and USB flash drive to NTFS, exFAT, FAT32, Ext2, Ext3 and Ext4. At the same time, it is compatible with Windows 7/8/8.1/10, XP and Vista and is very easy to operate. Free download it and see how to use it to format external hard drive.

Step 1. Install and launch AOMEI Partition Assistant. Right-click the partition on external hard drive and choose “Format Partition”.

Format Partitoin

Step 2. Specify proper file system according to a specific situation and click “OK”. And you can also add partition label or change cluster size if you want.

Fat32 128gb Usb

Step 3. Confirm the operating system and click “Apply” > “Proceed” to perform it.

Apply

Tips:

  • Formatting will erase all data on the external hard drive partition. Thus, it's very necessary to retrieve your data at first.

  • This software also allows you to convert external hard drive from MBR to GPT without data loss, clone external hard drive, etc.

Verdict

It’s bothering to meet files not showing in external hard drive problem. When you are in such a condition, calm down and find out the most possible reasons that caused this problem and take measures accordingly.