Solved: Hard Drive Not Showing Files Though They Still Exist

Jean updated on Sep 17, 2020 to Resource | How-to Articles


Many users have reported the issue that their local or external hard drive is not showing files though they still exist. When they open their device, they can't see files on their hard drive. If you are troubled by this same issue, follow to learn how to fix the hard drive that is not showing files and recover data from the device with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard when necessary.

Files Not Showing in External Hard Drive Though They Still Exist

"Why can't I see files and folders saved to my external HDD in Windows 10? They should be there because I didn't press the deletion button or format the disk. So annoying. Where have they gone? How to make them show up again?"

Quite a lot of Windows users have encountered the issue that their local hard drive, external HDD, USB flash drive, Pendrive or the memory card was showing up in Windows Explorer. However, they couldn't see the files and folders there when they opened the device.

Why can't you see files on the (external) hard drive in Windows when they still exist on your computer? "Hard drive not showing files though they still exist" is an issue occurs frequently. There are many factors would cause your storage drive contents to disappear without being noticed, such as:

  • File system errors that make the entries to your files inaccessible
  • Your hard drive is infected by a virus or attacked by malware that hides, deletes or encrypts the files on your hard drive
  • The power supply is not stable
  • The files and folders are hidden and you disable "show hidden files"
  • Others including hardware issues, hard drive getting corrupted, and more

In addition to the four common causes, an external hard drive may also result from other unexpected reasons. The corresponding solutions are detailed below.

How to Fix Files Not Showing Up on External Hard Drive

If you can't identify what the specific reason is, follow the solutions one by one to fix the error "can't see files on the external hard drive".

Method 1. Recover Missing Files and Reformat External/Internal Hard Drive

Applies to: restore not showing files due to file system error, hidden, or not removed by virus.

It's an all-in-one solution to recover hidden, not showing up or missing files that can't be seen on an internal or external hard drive in Windows 10/8/7. This method can also be applied to the situation when a hard drive is not showing up files though they still exist due to virus attack.

#1. Recover Missing, Hidden, Not Showing Files

Advanced hard drive recovery software like EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard can assist you in recovering files and folders that are hidden or removed by a virus/malware, retrieving data from an inaccessible storage device that has a file system error (like becoming RAW) with ease.

EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is able to restore files that you can't see on an external hard drive or USB drive in Windows 10 in 3 steps:

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

#2. Format or Reformat Hard Drive/External Hard Drive

To make the hard drive or external hard drive work again, without any file system error, we recommend you to format your hard drive in Windows 10/8/7. Refer the steps here to make your device usable again:

Remember to connect the external hard drive to your PC in advance if you need to format it.

Step 1.  Right-click this PC > Select "Manage" > "Disk Management".

Step 2. Right-click on the target drive or partition and click on "Format".

format hard drive windows 10

Step 3. Select the file system and set the cluster size.

Step 4. Click "OK" to format the drive.

Method 2. Run CHKDSK to Fix HDD/USB Pen Drive Not Showing Files

Applies to: Restore inaccessible files on hard drive, external or USB drive due to file system error. 

If you can't see files or folders on the external hard drive or USB pen drive is not showing data files due to file system errors or hard drive corruption, use command prompt to fix the hard drive problems to prevent further data loss.

Step 1. Type cmd in the Windows search box, right-click on "Command Prompt" and choose "Run as administrator".

Step 2. 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).

Click to copy

Step 3. Press "Enter" and chkdsk will start checking your corrupted HDD and then fix any corruption on the drive.

If you don't have any technical know-how and want to minimize data risks, using third-party software could be a better choice. The Command line is suitable for computer professionals since wrong commands can cause severe problems. Therefore, we strongly recommend you try an automatic command line alternative.

EaseUS Tools M is a practical computer fixing tool that is safe and light-weighted. It's a perfect alternative to CHKDSK command. Use this one-click tool to solve your computer issues.

To fix file system error or disk error:

Step 1: DOWNLOAD EaseUS Tools M for Free and install it.

Step 2: Open the software and select the "File showing" option. 

Step 3: Choose the drive and wait for repairing. After the operation completes, click the "View" button to check the drive. 

select the drive and check off file system error

Method 3. Reconnect Device, Change Power and USB Cable

Applies to: Fix Files not showing up on hard drive/external hard drive due to unstable power supply. 

If you can't think of any serious issue that may result in "can't see files on the external hard drive", the causes may be minor issues with the hardware connection. Unstable power supply or a broken USB connection cable may also disable you to access saved files on the hard drive. Don't bother trying the simple solution.  

Step 1. Check if your hard drive or external hard drive is correctly connected to your PC.

If not, reconnect it to your PC.

Step 2. Check the power supply cable or the USB connection cable is good.

If the cables are not working fine, change a new cable and reconnect your hard drive or external hard drive to PC.

Step 3. Change another USB cable to connect your external hard drive.

Although there is no difference between the front USB ports and the rear ones technically, it's said that the rear USB ports are more stable since they are soldered to the motherboard directly. Thus, if you are using a desktop, change to a rear USB port to have a try.

This solution is also helpful in solving the common USB drive related issue "Please insert a disk into removable disk".

Method 4. Show Hidden Files/Folders

Applies to: Show hidden files and folder that you intentionally or mistakenly hide on PC.

If you can't see files on a hard drive or external hard drive because you have hidden them intentionally or mistakenly, the files and folders you can't see just now will appear again by setting Windows to show hidden files.

Here we will present to you the easiest steps:

Step 1. Go to "This PC" and double-click to open your hard drive.

Step 2. Go to the "View" Tab. In the Show/hide section, check "Hidden items".

Fix hard drive not showing up files -  show hidden files

After this, you will be able to check the hidden or missing files in your hard drive again. If you need other ways to show hidden files, refer to how to recover hidden files for help.

The Bottom Line

This page covers 4 practical solutions to help you recover and display not showing files on an internal or external hard drive. When you can't see files on hard drive in Windows 10, try reliable hard drive data recovery software, run CHKDSk command to fix device file system error, change power cable or USB cable, and show hidden files by changing Windows file explorer settings. 

If the solutions above can't fix "hard drive not showing files though they exist" for you, we recommend you get your hard drive serviced. Some physical damage can be fixed by manual repair. If you don't want to give up your hard drive, asking help from manual service is also a choice to make.

FAQs about Files Not Showing in Hard Drive/External Hard Drive but Still Exist 

This page answers the question of "Why can't I see my hard drive in Windows 10" and "How do I recover not showing files on an internal or external hard drive". Some of you may have more concerns about the hard drive not showing files issues. Check questions and answers below, you may find desired answers here.

1. How do I view files on my hard drive?

First, open Windows File Explorer and check if your files are in the hard drive. If not, go to the View tab and tick "Hidden files". Recheck files in your hard drive again. 

Next, if no files show up, run EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard to scan and find all missing files on your hard drive.

2. Why are my files not showing up?

Many reasons may cause your files not showing up. Commonly, storage file system error, virus infection, device connection error, and manually hide files on storage devices may are the main causes that stop your files from showing up on storage devices.

3. How do I show hidden files on my external hard drive in Windows 10?

  1. Open File Explorer and go to the Video tab.
  2. Click Options and choose Change folder and search options.
  3. On the View tab, look for the Advanced settings area.
  4. Check "Show hidden files, folders, and drives" and click "OK".

4. How do I fix my external hard drive not recognized error?

When an external hard drive becomes unrecognizable, it may be caused by not working USB port, hard drive driver outdated, virus attack, or device failure error.

You can try the five ways to fix it:

  • Try a different USB
  • Uninstall and reinstall external hard drive driver
  • Turn on USB Root Hub
  • Show all hidden files
  • Use Registry Editor

For a detailed guide, you may refer to Fix Seagate External Hard Drive Not Detected/Recognized for help.

Was This Page Helpful?


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.

About Data Recovery Wizard

It's super easy to recover 250+ types of files after deletion, disk formatting and virus infection. Click the links and compare the difference of each version.