There are three ways in all to fix the issue that folder shows empty but files are there on Windows 10/8/7. The table below is an overview of the solution, read detailed content for full steps.

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Fix 1. Recover files with software The most effective way to show hidden and recover lost/missing files is using a data recovery tool...Full steps
Fix 2. Show files in File Explorer In the search box, type folder option, click "View". Select "Show hidden files, folders, and drives"...Full steps
Fix 3. Show files using CMD Press Windows + R keys together and input cmd in the search box. Open the command prompt...Full steps

The Folder Shows Empty but Has Size Overview

"How strange! The folder shows empty but the files are there. I transferred all of my pictures the other day from my Canon camera to PC and kept them in a folder on drive D. Today I click on the folder, but nothing is there! I am sure that all files have been successfully transferred, while I lost them due to unknown reasons. What's worse is that I didn't keep a copy on my camera storage. So how can I recover files when the folder wrongly shows empty?"

Are you seeing an empty folder that should have contained files in it? The folder shows empty as the picture.

the folder shows empty and no files

But in fact, the folder has size.

folder shows empty but it still takes space

Imagine this. You've created a folder to store some specific files, like downloaded apps, photos, documents, or video files. One day when you try to open the folder to view the contents inside, nothing is there, nor does it allow you to move to another storage location. What causes this issue? What we can do to fix "This folder is empty"? Read on and find the solutions. 

Why Would a Folder Shows Empty but Files Are There

Most cases of files/folders not showing up though they still exist suggest a hidden attribute, which means that you have hidden the files and cannot see them in the folder. As a result, the folder is empty but has size. 

The possible causes of the folder show empty but files are there is virus or malware infection. The virus hides the files and makes the folder shows empty but has size. Other probable reasons are improper removal of the external hard drive/USB flash drive/memory card, system update, or hard drive corruption that prevents proper viewing. If your storage devices get corrupted, repair the corrupted external hard drive/USB/SD card first, then follow the three solutions below to get data back in time. 

Video tutorial to recover missing files on a hard drive. 

Solutions to Solve This Folder Is Empty Issue and Recover Missing Files

You have three options in all to solve a folder that shows empty but files are sure to be there on Windows 10, 8, and 7. The methods are showing hidden files from Windows Explorer, using command prompt line and third-party EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard software.

1. Recover Hidden Files in an Empty Folder With Data Recovery Software

The most effective way to show hidden and recover lost/missing files are using third-party data recovery software. Here, we highly recommend you try EaseUSEaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to retrieve all kinds of files that were deleted, hidden, or disappeared for no reason. It requires no computer skills, and the recovery procedure is effortless. Follow the three steps below and find your lost files.

 Download for Win Recovery Rate 99.7%
 Download for Mac Trustpilot Rating 4.7

Step 1. Select the virus infected drive to scan

Run EaseUS virus file recovery software on your Windows PC. Select the disk attacked by the virus to scan for lost or hidden files. Note that:

  • If it's an HDD where files were hidden or deleted by virus, it's better to install the software on a different volume or an external USB drive to avoid data overwriting.
  • If the infected device is an external hard drive, flash drive or memory card, it doesn't matter to install the software on the local drive of the computer.
select a location to scan

Step 2. Check all scanned results

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard will immediately start a scan process to find your deleted or hidden files on the virus infected hard drive. To quickly locate the wanted files, you can use the Filter or search box feature to display only the pictures, videos, documents, emails, etc.

filter deleted or hidden files

Step 3. Preview and recover deleted/hidden files

When the process finishes, you can preview the scanned files. Select the files you want and click the "Recover" button. You should save restored files to another secure location or Cloud drive, not where they were lost.

Restore virus infected files

2. Show Hidden/Lost Files in an Empty Folder in File Explorer

Microsoft gives a detailed guide to help on how to display hidden files in all its Windows versions 10/8.1/8/7.  Despite a small difference in performing this action for each version, the basic operation is the same. That is finding the unhiding option inside the File Explorer. In Windows 10, you can unhide all files with these two steps.

Step 1. In the search box on the taskbar, type folder option, click "View". 

Step 2. Select "Show hidden files, folders, and drives" beneath "Hide files and folder". And then select "OK".

folder shows empty but files are there

3. Show Missing Files in an Empty Folder From Command Prompt

A high-level way to see hidden files is using the command lines. See the steps below.

Step 1. Press Windows + R keys together and input cmd in the search box. Open the command prompt as an administrator.

Step 2. Make sure in which drive the folder shows empty, for example, drive G, then type the command attrib -h -r -s /s /d g:\*.* and press Enter. Refresh the folder and check if the files appear now. 

restore empty folder by using cmd

Manual execution of the command line is suitable for computer professionals, since incorrect commands can do more harm than good. Therefore, for security and usability, we strongly recommend you try an automatic command line alternative - EaseUS CleanGenius. It is a practical tool that enables you to check and fix file system errors, enable/disable write protection and update your system with one-click instead of typing intricate command lines.

Follow the simple steps below to show hidden files with this 1-click-fix software. 

Step 1. DOWNLOAD EaseUS CleanGenius for Free.

Step 2. Start EaseUS CleanGenius, choose "Optimization" on the left panel. Next, click "File Showing" on the right panel. 

show hidden files - step 2

Step 3. Select the hard drive and click "Execute".

file fixing - step 2

Step 4. After the operation completes, click the here link to check the hidden files. 

show hidden files - step 3


In conclusion, don't easily give up when a folder that should have contained files shows up empty. By applying the above quick methods, you can undoubtedly retrieve all of your missing folder contents.

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Updated by Brithny

Brithny is a technology enthusiast, aiming to make readers' tech lives easy and enjoyable. She loves exploring new technologies and writing technical how-to tips. In her spare time, she loves sharing things about her game experience on Facebook or Twitter.

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Written by Jean

Jean is recognized as one of the most professional writers in EaseUS. She has kept improving her writing skills over the past 10 years and helped millions of her readers solve their tech problems on PC, Mac, and iOS devices.

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