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Solution to “Files Not Showing in External Hard Drive” Issue

Files Not Showing in External Hard Drive Issue

As you know, the external hard drive refers to a portable storage device which can be connected to a computer via a USB interface, Firewire or SATA interface. It is becoming more and more popular in life and works due to its advantages, such as large capacity, small volume, high data transmission speed and so on.

You often use it to transmit data to another device or back up your significant information to avoid data loss. However, unfortunately, you may encounter “can’t see files in external hard drive” issue which brings many troubles to you and you may be upset. If you search “external hard drive not showing files” in Google, you will find many users want to know how to fix this problem. Here is a screenshot from tomshardware.

Can't see files in external hard drive

This example tells you on a 350GB hard drive, only a single 2GB file can be seen. Where are the other files? In fact, this situation is very common, and you may encounter it. If you store a large amount of important data to this external hard drive and want to use the files, how will you do to solve it? Don’t be panic. Please keep on reading.

How to Fix Files Not Showing in External Hard Drive

When mentioning this issue, you should know two aspects:

  1. The external hard drive isn’t recognized so you can’t see files in this device.
  2. Besides, your computer can recognize the external HD but files are not showing up.

Here I will introduce you the solutions in two aspects.

Case 1: Disk Isn’t Recognized

If external hard drive files disappear, you need to consider USB interface. In some old computers including some brand machines, although there is one external USB interface, it is disabled in BIOS by default. You should check whether the USB interface is enabled or not by entering into BIOS. Different computers support different ways by pressing different keys to enter into BIOS. In BIOS, under “Chipset Features Setup” or “Integrated Peripherals” menu, set “OnChip USB” as “Enabled”.

Onchip usb enable

In fact, there are still some other cases, click to learn more about “disk not recognized” issue, after fixing it, then you can see all files on your external hard drive.

Case 2: External Hard Drive Can Be Recognized But Files Are Not Showing

In addition, there is another situation:

Your external hard drive is available to be recognized by the computer, but files in the external hard drive are still not showing.

1.Files Are Hidden

  • Use Dir/A x:-s Command

When encountering “external hard drive not showing files” problem, you may think that the files are hidden. Dir/A x:-s command can help you to display all non-system files in the current directory. X refers to the drive letter of your external hard drive. Firstly please run “cmd” window, and then type “dir/a x:-s”. After you run this command, you may find nothing. If the files you want to search are not listed, it means the properties of files are marked as “protected system files”. You should modify the properties.


  • Modify Folder Options

Click “Start” button and click “Control Panel” to select “Appearance and Personalization”. Then open “File Explorer Options” or “Folder Options”. Go to its “Advanced settings” under “View” table and check “show hidden files, folders, and drives” and uncheck “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)” like the following picture.

Display Hidden Files

2.Partition on External Hard Drive Is Damaged

In addition to the above reasons, the partition is damaged may cause files not showing in external hard drive issue.


Note: Stop doing any operations to your hard drive after data loss, because recovery failure can be caused by improper operations during the process of recovering to a certain extent. Otherwise, the difficulty of data recovery may increase and it will cause data loss permanently.


How to recover the data from the damaged external HD? A reliable and professional data recovery tool which is called MiniTool Power Data Recovery is your good choice. This data recovery software supports FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS file systems in Windows. And it is designed to own five recovery modules, which are Undelete Recovery, Lost Partition Recovery, Digital Media Recovery, CD/DVD Recovery and Damaged Partition Recovery. Among the five features, Damaged Partition Recovery is a powerful module which can be used to recover to recover data from damaged, RAW or formatted partitions.


Download MiniTool Power Data Recovery and install it on your computer. (Note: Free Edition can recover up to 1GB data. If your files are larger than 1GB, please upgrade to its Professional License or a more advanced one.)


Step 1: Launch it; you can see its five modules in the main interface. Click “Damaged Partition Recovery”.

Main Interface

Step 2: Select the target hard drive that you want to recover. Click “Full Scan”.

Damaged Partition Recovery

Step 3: After finishing scanning, all files on the drive can be listed. Select files you need to recover and click “Save” to store them to another disk.

Recover Damaged Partition Data

In addition, you can take other measures to solve can’t see files in external hard drive issue, such as fixing file system, changing CheckedValue as 1, running this command prompt attrib [name of file/folder] -r -a -s -h and so on. If you want to learn more information, here is an article.


All the above ways can be used to solve “files not showing in external hard drive” issue. If you encountered this problem when using an external hard drive, just try these measures according to your own actual situations.

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