Folder Disappeared from External Hard Drive? Fixed!

Seeking ways to fix the issue of folder disappeared from external hard drive? Get five methods to recover the hidden/deleted/lost folders on this page.


By Penny / Updated on December 18, 2023

Share this: instagram reddit

Why do files/folders disappear from external hard drive?

In computing, external storage devices render great convenience for users to upload and download files/folders without the network. Therefore, users often use these removable media or portable devices to store and transfer data.


I have an external hard disk of 1TB, but I cannot view the content. When I check the properties of this hard drive, it shows 900GB is empty and only 100GB is full. Why do files/folders disappear from external hard drive? Could you help me recover the data?

Some of you may have encountered this issue. To recover missing folders, please don’t write new data to this electronic device after data loss because any written performance could overwrite these missing folders.

Meanwhile, there’re some common reasons for folder missing on external hard drive.

▶Accidental deletion: It’s an unavoidable factor and the most common reason for data loss.

▶The files are hidden: The hidden file attribute makes the file or folder invisible to users. Thus, Windows apps like Windows File Explorer will not show these hidden folders by default.

▶Errors in the file system: The Windows OS cannot recognize a corrupted/damaged file system.

▶The mirror image in memory is damaged. If the memory is damaged, Windows operating system may fail to respond to a timely refresh.

▶Virus infection.

How to fix the issue of folder disappeared from external hard drive?

Files/folders missing from external hard drive? This part shares five feasible methods with you to find the lost folder.

Method 1. Unhide the hidden folders from external hard drive

If your files/folders are hidden, you need to unhide them using Windows File Explorer. Let’s show how it works.

Step 1. Press “Windows + E” to open “Windows File Explorer”. Then click your external hard drive > “View” > “Options”.


Step 2. Under the View tab, click the “Show hidden files, folder, and drives” option. Then click “Apply” > “OK”.


Method 2. Fix file system errors by checking the external hard drive

The corrupted file system could prevent you from viewing files/folders on the external hard drive. If you want to reappear your missing folders, please fix file system errors by checking the external hard drive.

Step 1. Connect the external hard disk to your PC. Then click “This PC” > right-click on your connected external hard drive > “Properties”.

Step 2. Under the Tools tab, click “check” to start the error checking process.


Step 3. Click “Automatically fix file system errors” > “Start”. After the process, you can open Windows File Explorer again to check whether these folders are visible to you or not.

Method 3. Change Registry value to recover folders

If you fail to set the folder attribute, the virus infection may have disabled your ability to change folder settings by attacking the registry. Please follow these steps to change settings in “Registry.”

Step 1. Press “Windows + R” to open and type “regedit” in the Run command window. Then click “OK” or hit “Enter”.


Step 2. Go to this route: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Advanced\Folder\Hidden\SHOWALL


Step 3. Confirm whether the “CheckedValue” is “1”. If not, right-click on it and hit “Delete”. Then right-click on the blank space, and click “New” > “DWORD (32-bit) Value”. After that, set the value data as “1”.


Method 4. Recover the deleted/lost folders from external hard drive with data recovery software

Without a doubt, using the command prompt to recover the deleted/lost folders is quite hard to operate. Are you seeking another user-friendly data recovery software? If it happens in your case, why not consider this Windows recovery tool-MyRecover? 

Top 1 External Hard Drive Data Recovery Tool
  • Deal with data loss caused by deletion, disk formatting, virus attacks, or system crashes.
  • Recover disappeared files/folders from SanDisk, Samsung, WD, Seagate, Lacie, and other brands of external HDDs. 
  • Recover 200+ file formats: images (JPG, PNG, DNG, TIFF, etc.), videos (MP4, MOV, AVI, etc.), MS Office and WPS files, folders, compressed files, websites, etc.
  • Combined scanning method: Automatically run Quick Scan and Deep Scan to search all the recoverable files.
  • Easy-to-find: During scanning, you can filter and preview your needed files according to filename, file format, saved path, storage size, deleted date, etc.

Step 1. Install and run MyRecover on your Windows > select your connected external HDD > click Start Scan.


Step 2. After clicking Start Scan, MyRecover automatically runs Quick Scan and Deep Scan to detect all the retrievable files on your chosen external hard drive.

During scanning, you can filter and preview your desired files quickly according to Filename, Document Type, Path, Size, Date, etc.

  • Name: Enter the relevant filename of your needed files to quickly locate them.
  • Date modified: Set the date (today, yesterday, last 7/30 days, etc.)
  • Size: Set the file size (<128KB, 128KB~1MB, 1MB~512MB, etc.)


Step 3. Under the Deleted Files/Recycle Bin/Other Missing Files folder, select the files you intend to retrieve > click Recover x files.


Method 5. Recover the deleted/lost folders from external hard drive using the command prompt

Your folders have likely been deleted from the external hard disk if none of the above methods help you recover missing folders. So how to fix the issue of files missing from external hard drive?

At the moment, you can utilize Windows File Recovery to recover the lost files from the internal and external hard drives, solid-state drives, USB flash drives, SD cards, and other electronic devices. Please get an overview of its merits and demerits below.


▶Recover the deleted Word, Excel, PPT, ZIP, PDF, PNG, JPEG, MPEG, and more.

▶Four (Extensive, Regular, Segment, and Signature) modes could support four (NTFS, FAT, exFAT, and ReFS) file systems.



▶Windows File Recovery only works with Windows 10/11.

▶You need to use the command prompt to recover the deleted files/folders because this command-line software hasn’t offered a GUI (graphical user interface) for you.

▶Resemble the basic format command line winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/mode] [/switches] for varied file systems and data loss scenarios.

Step 1. Check the file system of your external hard disk: Connect it to your computer, and click “This PC” > right-click on it > “Properties”.


Step 2. Select a recommended mode according to the file system of your external hard disk and data loss circumstances.

File system


Recommended mode


Deleted recently



Deleted a while ago



After formatting a disk



A corrupted disk


FAT and exFAT



Step 3. Choose your needed switches from the following form.



Supported mode(s)


Filter the scan range: scans for a specific file with its file name/path/type, etc.



Recover specific extension groups.



Recovers system files.

NTFS Segment​​​​​


Recovers undeleted files, for example, from the Recycle Bin.

NTFS Segment

Step 4. Download Windows File Recovery from the Microsoft Store by clicking the “Get” button. Then install and “Open” it on the computer.


Step 5. Fill your selected mode and switches in the basic command format: winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/mode] [/switches]

Let’s perform how to restore the recently deleted folder from the external hard drive (E drive) to the destination drive (D drive). Then you can copy the adjusted command line “winfr E: D: /regular /n *.ZIP in the command prompt window.

Step 6. Press “y” to go on. After recovery, you can open the destination drive to locate your retrieved folders. If you need to stop the recovery process, press the “Ctrl + C” keys.

Further reading: External hard drive data loss prevention  

This detailed tutorial guides you to fix the issue of folder disappeared from external hard drive with five methods. After solving this problem, some users raise questions such as “is there any way for external hard drive data loss prevention?” It turns out there is.

To prevent data loss in the future, we’d like to introduce freeware-AOMEI Backupper to you. This free backup software for Windows could help you create a “File Backup,” “Disk Backup,” “Partition Backup,” and “System Backup.” Let’s take the file backup as an example.

Step 1. Install and launch AOMEI Backupper on your PC. Then connect your external hard disk to the computer.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Step 2. Click “Backup” > “File Backup”.


Step 3. Click “Add folder” or “Add file” > “This PC” > “Devices and drives” to add files or folders. Then click the “Start Backup” button.


Step 4. Click “Finish” to exit the window.


Penny · Editor
Penny works as an editor at AOMEI Technology, while she's a tester and editor for AOMEI Data Recovery Tools. She enjoys helping users with data recovery issues on Windows and iPhones using simple and practical solutions. Outside of work, she has a strong affection for pets, particularly giant pandas.