Hard Drive Appears Empty But Isn't? Get 7 Solutions to It
The hard drive appears empty but isn't error occurs when your files are hidden or the hard drive is infected by a virus. Read through this article to learn effective solutions.
Why does my hard drive say it’s empty?
I downloaded some episodes to my external HDD yesterday. But today, I found that the HDD hard drive appears empty but isn't, since Windows says that it's still full as before. This has never happened before and I'm baffled.
Hard disk showing empty but space occupied can be caused by diverse reasons. The following are the possible reasons:
- Hard drive files are hidden - Files or folders are hidden, causing data not to be displayed.
- Hard disk file system error - A file system logical error causes the stored files to be inaccessible, but data still remains on the hard drive.
- Hard drive is attacked by virus/malware - Viruses or malware delete or hide hard drive files, causing data to disappear but still take up storage space.
- Hard drive is corrupted - Improper plugging and unplugging operations or other reasons cause the hard drive to become corrupted and files not be displayed correctly.
Luckily, there are many ways that can help you to get back hidden files, retrieve files from viruses, or recover corrupted hard drive.
Hard drive appears empty but isn't - 7 useful fixes
Although there are numerous reasons why a hard drive may appear empty, it does not mean that the missing files cannot be recovered. Next, we will present seven credible and effective methods to fix hard disk empty but shows full. Read on and find the solution that works for you.
Method 1. Run anti-virus software
To make sure that the “hard drive appears empty but isn't” issue is not caused by a virus infection, we strongly recommend that you run your antivirus software to check and remove the virus first. This can prevent viruses from harming files on other hard drives on your computer.
Method 2. Reconnect your hard drive
If you are using an external hard drive such as a USB and find that your files are not showing up but they are still taking up space, it is possible that it results from an incorrect connection. You can safely remove your USB first and try to plug it into your computer again.
If you only have one computer available at hand, please try another port. Connecting your USB to another computer can is another way to check if the “hard drive empty but shows full or occupied" problem persists.
Method 3. Show hidden files from File Explorer
If there is no problem with the hard drive connection, it is possible that hidden files are the culprit of "my hard drive shows empty but it's not". Mistaken operations and virus invasion both easily bring about hard drive data to be hidden. Thankfully, you can recover hidden files by following the simple guideline below.
Step 1. Ensure your hard drive is recognizable by your PC. Then, press Windows + E keys to launch Windows File Explorer.
Step 2. Click on the View wizard on the top, tap Options, and go to the View tab.
Step 3. Tick the box next to Show hidden files, folders, and drives and click Apply.
Method 4. Recover hidden files using CMD
You could also recover data from hard drive using Command Prompt, which allows you to recover hidden files as well as deleted files. By executing the ATTRIB command through Command Prompt, you can modify the hidden attribute of a file/folder to make it visible.
Step 1. Click Start and search for "Command Prompt". Select the Run as administrator option from the search result.
Step 2. Type “attrib -H -R -S /S /D G:\*.*” and press Enter to show hidden files on the G: drive. You can replace the drive letter G: with the one that you want to recover stored files on it.
If the ATTRIB command fails to show files on hard drive and you make sure that the command line runs without errors, that is to say, your files are not hidden but deleted or hard disk has logical errors.
Method 5. Run Hardware and Device Troubleshooter
Sometimes, running the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter can help you identify and fix device problems on your computer when the device isn't working properly like external hard drive not showing files but used space or external hard drive showing empty but isn’t. However, this tool seems to be deprecated from Windows 11/10. Thus, this option is only available for Windows 7/8 users.
Here are steps on how to solve the “folder shows empty but files are there” issue with the troubleshooter.
Step 1. Click Start > Update & Security > Troubleshoot in turn.
Step 2. Tap Hardware and Devices and click on Run the troubleshooter to detect problems on your hard drive.
Method 6. Check hard drive for errors
As mentioned earlier, if the hard drive has a file system error, files may be inaccessible. The "internal/external hard drive appears empty but not" problem may be due to a logical error.
In this case, you can use the Windows native Disk Check tool, which can automatically check and repair file system errors, and recover lost data.
Step 1. Open This PC or My Computer, and right-click your hard drive.
Step 2. Choose Properties and head to the Tool section. Then, click on the Check button under Error checking.
Step 3. Then, click Scan drive to begin the scanning process.
Method 7. Recover hard drive lost data with file recovery tool
If none of the above methods succeed in fixing the “hard drive empty but shows used space” problem, your data is most likely deleted. But rest assured, deleted files are not impossible to retrieve. Easy to use and professional file recovery software - MyRecover can easily recover deleted and lost hard drive data for free.
Apart from file deletion, this tool can recover data from formatted hard drives, virus-infected hard drives, system-crashed computers, etc. It can find your lost data in a short time and you can retrieve your data at a high recovery rate.
Download the tool (it supports NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, and ReFS in Windows 11/10/8/7 & Windows Servers) and check out the data recovery guide below.
Step 1. Run MyRecover and choose the hard drive that lost data to click Start Scan.
Step 2. It will automatically list all found deleted/lost files that can be recovered. You can click Filter to select a specific file type or search for file name in the search box to locate what you need.
Step 3. Select the items that you want and click Recover x files.
On this page, we collected 7 ways to help you fix the "hard drive appears empty but isn't" problem. You can try them one by one until the files are displayed properly.