Files Missing from External Hard Drive but Still Taking Space

Jean updated on Oct 12, 2020 to File Recovery | How-to Articles

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

An external hard drive is a portable storage device that can be connected to a computer via USB, eSATA, or Firewire to transfer and back up huge amounts of data - far more than that can be saved to most laptops or tablets. It brings great conveniences because of its large-capacity, high-speed, easy-to-use, network-free, and small-size features. The most common and popular external hard drives brands are Seagate, Buffalo, Toshiba, WD, Samsung, Kingston, and so on.

Despite those merits, there are high chances that users encounter various external hard disk problems and files missing from the external hard drive but still taking up space is one of them.

In this article, we will discuss what are the possible causes for files disappeared from external hard drive and then show the corresponding solutions. But at the beginning, to ensure that the data is not lost while the problem is being solved, let's start with recovering files and folders missing from external hard drive with EaseUS data recovery software

How to Recover Files Disappeared from External Hard Drive

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is a competent hard drive recovery software that helps millions to restore deleted or hidden pictures, documents, videos, music, and many other types of files from all kinds of storage devices. It can recover permanently lost data from HDD, SSD, USB flash drive, external hard drive, etc..

Now, download this powerful file recovery program to recover files missing from external hard drive immediately easily. 

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

After all the data you need has been restored to another safe place, you can follow the methods given below to fix the files missing from external hard drive but still taking up space issue.

What Causes Files to Disappear

When you find files on external hard drive disappeared, don't write any new data on the device anymore to prevent overwriting. The reasons for this problem may be as listed below.

  • The files are hidden, not lost.
  • The file system is corrupted, or the device doesn't contain a recognized file system.
  • The "CheckedValue" has changed.
  • The mirror image has corrupted.
  • Malicious software or virus attack can cause files missing.  

How to Fix Files Disappeared from External Hard Drive Problem

Now that we understand the causes of the problem, we can effectively find the corresponding solutions. 

Method 1. Recover Hidden Files on External Hard Drive 

  • 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 files disappeared from external hard drive - show hidden files

There are all four possible ways to show hidden files on a hard drive except for the CMD approach. Click on the link, and you can find the full answers. 

Method 2. Fix File System Errors

  • Right-click on the external hard drive. Choose "Properties".
  • Select the "Tools" tab and click on the "Check" now button.
  • Check "Automatically fix file system errors" from the pop-up window.
  • Click on the "Start" button to begin the process and wait for it to complete.

fix files disappeared from external hard drive - check error

Method 3. Change Registry Value

  • Pree Windows + R keys to start the Run Run command. Type Regedit and click "OK".
  • Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\Folder\Hidden\SHOWAL.
  • 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, set the value data as "1".

fix files disappeared from external hard drive - check registry value

Method 4. Restart Computer and Reconnect the External Hard Drive

When the mirror image in memory is damaged and the operating system does not respond to a timely refresh, your files might disappear from the external hard drive. In this case, you can try to restart the computer and reconnect the external hard drive to your PC. Then, check whether you can view files on your device.

Method 5. Scan External Hard Drive with Antivirus Software

Our computers or storage devices are at risk of being attacked by viruses every day. The viruses we're familiar with are shortcut virus and ransomware. The former will hide all your original files and make them all shortcuts. The latter will delete your original files and generate virus files. When faced with these issues, you can first use a virus attack data recovery tool to recover hidden or deleted files. Then, you can scan and clean your computer with advanced antivirus software.  


That's all for the solutions to files missing from external hard drive but still taking up space. You can try some of the whole methods to fix the problem. Whether you are using an external hard drive or the HDD/SSD on a computer, rescuing data is the first step when there is any problem with the device. Therefore, it is necessary to configure a data recovery software for your computer. 

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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, so 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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