Fix - Files Missing from External Hard Drive but Still Taking Up Space

Even though this is not a common problem, most of you might have experienced it. Yes! Even if files are missing on external hard drive, you may notice that the disk shows used space.

This sounds strange, yet it is true. Sometimes, external hard drive shows used space but you find no files inside the drive.

Why External Hard Drive Shows Used Space but No Files?

Here, are 4 key reasons for an external hard drive to show used space even though it has no files.

1. May Be Files Are Hidden

Sometimes, the files stored on an external hard drive are not really missing from it; maybe they are just hidden, thus not showing up. So, you need to unhide them.

And, here is how to unhide or show hidden files on an external hard drive.

Step 1: Open Command Prompt (Run as administrator), type DIR/A x:-s (x is external hard disk drive letter) and press Enter key.

Note: If files/folders are marked as protected system files then above step fails to show up them on the portable drive. If so, then continue.

Step 2: Open Run window, type Control folders and hit OK.

Step 3: Select Appearance and Personalization from Control Panel.

Step 4: Choose Folder Options.

Step 5: Switch to View tab, enable show hidden files, folders, and drives and disable Hide protected operating system files (Recommended).

2. File System Issues

External hard drive files won’t show up even if the drive’s file system is corrupted or it has an unrecognized file system.

Here is how to verify this:

  • Right-click on external hard drive and select Properties
  • Switch to Tools tab, opt Check now and click on Automatically fix file system errors
  • Hit Start key and wait for the completion of process

3. Virus Affected CheckedValue

If there is an infected CheckedValue in Regedit then also the drive fails to display files saved on it. So, fix this issue and see, the files will show up or not.

Step 1: From Run window, open Regedit and track this path in Registry Editor:


Step 2: Make sure the value of CheckedValue is 1. If NOT, delete CheckedValue, create a new DWOR and name it as CheckedValue. Then, set its value as 1.

4. Damaged Mirror Image in External Hard Drive Memory

The damaged mirror image in memory makes the OS not to respond in a timely refresh and thus, the data is invisible.

To repair damaged mirror image, restart your computer and reconnect the external hard drive.

If none of the above techniques helped you then format the external hard drive. But, recover files from the external hard drive before formatting it.

How to Recover Not Showing Files from External Hard Drive?

Step 1: Install SFWare Partition Recovery software on your computer.

Step 2: Connect the external hard drive and launch the tool.

Step 3: Click on Partition Recovery option present on the main screen.

Step 4: Select portable drive from the shown list and hit Next button.

Step 5: After quick scan, you will see a list of recovered files.

Step 6: Preview your data and Save it on system hard drive.

Why SFWare to Recover Invisible Files from External Hard Drive?

SFWare Partition Recovery is a secure way for restoring invisible or inaccessible files from the external hard disk with ease. The application scans the entire hard drive and looks for lost data and recovers it quickly. A wide variety of file types like documents, spreadsheets, backup files, media files, ZIP archives, Office files, and more can be recovered from the drive. The tool can easily recover data from damaged hard drive, portable drive, media card, USB etc. It supports data recovery from various hard disk drive interfaces like SCSI, SATA, IDE, etc. With the help of this program you can recover data from non-booting drives, deleted partitions, crashed, corrupt, formatted or reformatted hard disks. It is compatible with recovering files from FAT32, exFAT, NTFS, NTFS5 partitions.

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