Files Missing from External Hard Drive but Still Taking up Space

Worrying about your files missing but still taking up space? This page provides you with 5 effective ways to fix it. Also, you can easily recover files disappeared from external hard drives on Windows 10.


By Lori / Updated on April 2, 2024

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External hard drives offer a convenient way to back up computers and transfer data between computers. However, it's not uncommon to encounter a frustrating scenario where some files and folders vanish from the drive after connecting an external HDD to your computer. Sometimes, the drive might indicate that files miss but still taking up space.


If you're grappling with the perplexing situation of files disappeared from external hard drive while still consuming system space, fret not. This article delves into the reasons behind this issue and presents 5 effective solutions.

To safeguard your data during the resolution process, we also offer a reliable method to recover lost files and folders from your external hard drive using professional data recovery software. Please read on!

What Causes Files Missing but Still Taking up Space

The phenomenon of files missing from hard drives but still taking up space can be attributed to several factors. These include:

1️⃣ Hidden Files: Sometimes, files aren't lost but merely hidden from view, leading to the illusion of disappearance.

2️⃣ Altered "CheckedValue": Changes in the "CheckedValue" attribute can cause files to become invisible, even though they are still present on the drive.

3️⃣ Damaged File System: If the file system on your external hard drive is damaged or not recognized by the device, it can result in files becoming inaccessible.

4️⃣ Virus or Malware Attacks: Viruses or malicious software can corrupt files or make them invisible, posing a significant threat to your data and PC. For instance, Windows automatically deletes files after detecting viruses.

How to Recover Files Disappeared from External Hard Drive

Before you fix missing files from an external hard drive issue on Windows 10, recover deleted or lost data first. It is prudent to start with recovering files and folders missing from the external hard drive with the data recovery software  MyRecover.

MyRecover is a robust tool designed to recover deleted or lost data from various storage devices, including HDD, SSD, SD cards, USB flash drives, and more. Its impressive success rate and user-friendly interface have earned it high praise from users. In addition, it is fully compatible with Windows 11, 10, 8, 7, and Windows Server.

Professional Data Recovery Software
  • Recover 200+ formats: It can recover deleted Microsoft Word, Excel, PPT, PDF, PPTX, JPG, PNG, MP4, MOV, MP3, CDA, 7Z, ZIP, MSG, EML, and more.
  • Support different brands of external HDDs: Toshiba, Seagate, Western Digital, Transcend, Sandisk, Samsung, etc.
  • Advanced scanning method: MyRecover runs Quick Scan & Deep Scan automatically to search all the recoverable files and folders.
  • Apply to multiple data loss scenarios such as deletion, disk formatting, system crashes, or virus infection.

Get this recovery tool and operate with the following tutorial to recover deleted/missing files from external hard drives.

Step 1. Connect your external HDD to the Windows. Download and run MyRecover on your PC. Hover the mouse over the drive, and click Scan.


Step 2. The software will scan your drive automatically to find the recoverable data. You can recover the files it detects right away or wait for the scan results.


Step 3. You will see a list of data that MyRecover has found. Choose your desired files to recover and click Recover x files.


Step 4. Choose a new location for the recovered data and click Select Folder to confirm. The data recovery process will take a few minutes or longer, depending on the amount of data you're recovering.

🌟Tip: MyRecover provides 3 subscription plans: Monthly, Yearly, and Lifetime. Choose the data recovery plan as you like. Try to upgrade to MyRecover Pro/Tech to enjoy unlimited file recovery.

How to Fix Files Disappeared from External Hard Drive

How do I fix files disappeared from the hard drive in Windows 10? This part lists 5 feasible ways for you. Let’s start!

#1. Restart the Computer and Reconnect the External Hard Drive

Sometimes, when your files get corrupted and the operating system fails to refresh in time, your folders and files might disappear from the external hard drive.

A simple solution is to restart your computer and reconnect your external hard drive. Once you've done this, double-check to see if your files are now visible to you or not.

#2. Show Hidden Files, Folders, and Drives via File Explorer

When a virus configures file properties as "hidden," you might experience the issue of "files missing but still taking up space." To address this, you can try to show hidden files, folders, and drives via File Explorer. Here's how you can find a lost file on your computer by showing hidden items.

🌟Tip: If Windows 10/11 shows hidden files are not working, you can try another 3 ways to remove hidden files.

File Explorer View Options

Step 1. Press Win + E to open File Explorer, and click View Options to go to the Folder Options.

Step 2. In the View tab look for the Advanced settings. Select Show hidden files, folders, and drives, and click Apply > OK.

Show Hidden Files Folders


#3. Show Hidden Files, Folders, and Drives via Attrib

The ATTRIB command proves practical in altering a file's read/write attribute or setting the archive attribute. When executed through the attrib command prompt, it enables you to modify the hidden attribute of a file or folder, making it visible and resolving the issue of files and folders disappearing from external hard drives.

Step 1. After connecting your external HDD, type "Command Prompt" in the search bar. Select the Run as administrator to open the command prompt window.

Run As Administrator

Step 2. Type “attrib -H -R -S /S /D G:\*.* and press Enter to show hidden files on the G: drive (G is the drive on which folders and files are hidden).

Attrib Cmd

#4. Change the Registry Value to Show Hidden Files

If the "CheckedValue" in the registry is affected by virus infection, you may face the problem of Seagate external hard drive files not showing up while still occupying space. To resolve this issue and make the files reappear, you need to modify the "CheckedValue" in the Regedit registry editor.

Step 1. Press Win + R to open the Run command. Type “Regedit” and click OK.

Regedit Ok

Step 2. Go to the following directory:


Step 3. Check whether the CheckedValue is 1 or not. If not, right-click the CheckedValue > Delete. Then, right-click on blank and click NewDWORD (32-bit) Value > name it CheckedValue > set the value data as 1.

Change Check Value

#5. Check and Fix File System Errors via CHKDSK

The problem of files missing from the hard drive but still taking space can stem from a damaged or unrecognized file system. To resolve the issue of disappeared files on your external hard drive in Windows 10, it's crucial to address these file system errors.

One way is by using CHKDSK, a built-in Windows tool designed to identify and repair logical errors in a file system. However, it's important to note that this method might be challenging for users unfamiliar with computer operations.

🌟Tip: Alternatively, for a more easy approach, you can opt for AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. This free tool boasts a user-friendly interface and can efficiently fix any detected errors with the help of CHKDSK.exe.

The following steps depict how to fix detected bad sectors or corrupted file systems via CHKDSK.

Step 1. Type cmd in the search bar and click Run as administrator to open the command prompt.


Step 2. Type chkdsk in the command prompt and press Enter.


Step 3.Type chkdsk d: /f and press enter. Replace d with your drive letter.



Are your USB files missing but space still used?
If you find the issue of USB files not showing but space used when you check File Explorer or Disk Management, files might be hidden. Files can be set to a 'hidden' attribute, making files take up space but not visible.
Why does my USB say no space but nothing on it?
If your USB claims no space despite having no visible files, it might have a pre-formatted file system limiting data transfer. Formatting the device restores its full capacity. For example, FAT32 has a 4GB file size limit.
What virus makes files disappear?
Worms are malware that can delete and alter files on a computer, spreading to other computers on a network. Recover deleted files with caution, as they might be infected. Always scan them with an anti-virus program.
Is it possible to recover a folder that disappeared from an external drive?
Yes! You can recover lost entire folders using a data recovery tool like MyRecover. For added safety, create a backup image of your drive to prevent data loss at the source.

Wrapping up

That's all for the 5 practical solutions to files missing but still taking up space. When facing any device problem, rescuing data is the initial step. Using reliable data recovery software like MyRecover is a wise choice to get your data back. It can even recover permanently deleted files with a high success rate.

Please remember that maintaining timely backups is crucial to minimizing data. Here, we recommend you try this free backup software for Windows like AOMEI Backupper. Then, you can easily retrieve files from backup.

Lori · Editor
Lori receives professional technical training since joining AOMEI, and aims at helping users troubleshoot problems on data recovery and protection. She focuses on simple, efficient and practical methods, and provides professional advice. Being able to help readers and users is her ultimate goal.