Files Missing from External Hard Drive but Still Taking Space

Jean updated on Dec 28, 2018 to File Recovery | How-to Articles


When you find folders and files missing from an external hard drive but still taking space, please note that there might be problems with your external hard drive. Try solutions here to fix the weird issue and use EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to recover mysteriously disappeared files and folders without making an effort.

For the case that many people find their files and folders missing from an external hard drive but the hard disk space is still taken up, we have some simple solutions that everybody could apply to rectify the problem without necessarily losing their important files on the drive. 

3 ways to fix your files missing from external hard drives but still taking up space

Fix 1. Show hidden files on Windows 10, 8 or 7
Fix 2. Take ownership of the drive in permission settings
Fix 3. Check disk errors and repair

Before getting your hands on, first of all, download EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to find all the missing contents on the external hard drive. It's a hard drive recovery software that helps millions of customers restore pictures, documents, videos, music and many other types of files from all kinds of storage devices. As long as your hard disk space is showing used space, your files are not really missing.

To easily restore the unseen files, follow the three steps to have them all back:

Step 1. Choose the external hard drive

Since you're going to recover data from the external hard drive, run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard and under the External Devices tab, choose the exact drive where you lost data. Click Scan.

select external hard drive

Step 2. Scan for lost data

The software will start immediately to scan all over the selected drive for all lost data. During the scan, you could see more and more data showing up in the results.

scan external hard drive

Step 3. Preview and recover data

After the scan is over, check the scan results for the desired data. You can preview the file by double-clicking on it. Click Recover and choose another location to save the recovered data.

preview and recover data

Now, you can officially start the troubleshooting methods to solve the problem of files missing from an external hard drive but still taking space with the detailed guide in each introduced fix.

Fix 1. Show hidden files on Windows 10, 8 or 7

You can show hidden files using cmd, control panel, and software. Here, we offer the cmd approach for you.

  • Type cmd in the Windows search box, right click on Command Prompt program and choose Run as administrator.
  • Determine the drive on which files are hidden and you want to recover.
  • If it's drive D, then Type attrib -s -h -r /s /d *.* and hit Enter.

Fix 2. Take ownership of the drive in permission settings

  • In Windows Explorer, right-click on the drive you want to take ownership of, then select "Properties" from the drop-down menu.
  • Click on the "Security" tab.
  • Click on the "Advanced" button.
  • Click on the "Owner" tab in "Advanced Security Settings".
  • Click on the "Edit" Button.
  • Click on the "Other users or groups" button.
  • Under "Object Types", uncheck everything except "Users", then click on "OK". 
  • Click on the "Advanced" button.
  • Click on the "Find Now" button.
  • Under "Search Results", click the "username" that you log into windows with, then click "OK".
  • Verify the correct username in the object window, then press "OK".
  • Place a checkmark in front of "Replace owner on sub containers and objects".
  • You will see a warning message stating that "All permissions will be replaced…". This is normal. Click on "Yes".
  • A status window will show file permissions being rapidly replaced.
  • If you see an error message saying "Access is denied", it's not a problem. That message only refers to a specific system file that's currently in use. You don't need access to it anyway. Just click the "Continue" button.
  • Click "OK" on the final Windows Security message.

Fix 3. Check disk errors and repair

  • Type cmd in the Windows search box, right click on "Command Prompt" program and choose "Run as administrator".
  • On the command window, type chkdsk g: /f (g is the drive letter of your external hard drive, so please replace the drive letter with the corresponding drive letter of yours).
  • Press Enter and chkdsk will start checking your corrupted HDD and then fix any corruption on the drive.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why choose EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard?

"EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is the best we've seen. It's far from perfect, partly because today's advanced disk technology makes data-recovery more difficult than it was with the simpler technology of the past, but it's fast and efficient..."PCMag

"The first thing you'll notice about EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Pro is that its interface is very clear and uncluttered, with only a small collection of self-explanatory controls. You won't find lots of extra options hidden in a system of hidden menus, either; what you see really is what you get."techradar

"Recover lost files, even after deleting a partition or formatting your drive."Macworld

2. Why cannot I recover 2GB data for free?

It is recommended to check the version installed is Free or Trial because they are different versions.

Trial has data preview function but cannot save any files, while the Free version enables to recover 2 GB files. The default free space is 500 MB and you may share the product on social media to get another 1.5 GB.

3. Why cannot the recovered files be opened?

A file is saved as 2 parts on the storage device: directory info (which is comprised by file name, time stamp and size info, etc.) and data content.

If the files with original file names and folder structures cannot be opened, one possible reason is the corrupted directory info. There is still a chance to recover the data content with the RAW Recovery method in our software.

4. Why isn't it suggested to recover the files back to the original drive?

The storage structure of the lost files would be altered or damaged by any changes on the drive. If you save the recovered files back to the same drive, the original data structures and data content would be corrupted or overwritten, which causes permanent data loss. So you should prepare another disk to save the files.

5. How can I check whether my data is recoverable or not before purchase?

The Free version helps you save 2GB files to better verify the recovery quality of our product before purchase.

6. How long does it take to scan the drive?

It strongly depends on the capacity of your hard drive and the performance of your computer. As reference,most drive recoveries can be completed in around 10 to 12 hours for a 1-TB healthy hard drive in general conditions.

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