Guide: How to Recover Hidden Data from External Hard Disk

The methods of both how to recover hidden data from external hard disk and how to recover lost files are given in this passage, you can follow the guide to complete the recovery.


By Bryce / Updated on April 2, 2024

Share this: instagram reddit

Are my external hard disk files hidden or lost?

“I have a lot of movies, files, folders, and music on my external hard drive. Because of something, when I turn on the external hard drive, I can’t see any folders inside, but if I type the folder name in the search bar, it will appear. So, are my files hidden? Can hidden files be recovered?”

- Question from

External Hard Disk

How do I recover hidden files on my external hard drive?

An external hard drive, a portable storage tool, can be used to save data and exchange large data between computers. Sometimes, files or folders may disappear from the external hard drive. The issue occurs mainly because the files/folders are hidden. In the following content, 3 methods of how to recover hidden data from external hard disk are given.

Method 1. Recover hidden files from external hard drive with Windows Explorer

The easiest way to retrieve external hard drive hidden files is using Windows Explorer.

Step 1. Connect the external hard disk to your PC with a USB cable.

Step 2. Open File Explorer > Click View > Tap Options > click View tab.

Step 3. Tap the Show hidden files, folders, and drives option, and then click Apply button.

Show Hidden File

Methods 2. Recover hidden files with the attrib command

You can use the attrib command to restore hidden files from external HDD efficiently.

Step 1. Go to Start, and type Command Prompt in the search bar.

Step 2. Open it, and choose Run as administrator.

Step 2. Type attrib -h -r -s /s /d F:\*.* (F refers to the drive where your hidden file is located) and click Enter to retrieve hidden files.

Attrib Command

Method 3. Using CHKDSK to fix external hard disk file system errors

If attrib command isn't working, you can take the corrupted file system into consideration. To check the file system, you can run CHKDSK.  Open File Explorer > Right-click your external hard drive > Tap Properties > Tools > Check. Your external hard disk files will appear after checking.


How to recover lost files from external hard disk

You have realized how to recover hidden files from an external hard disk, but if your files on the external hard disk are lost or deleted, how to restore them?

To recover recently deleted files, you can find them on Recycle Bin. If you can’t find the lost external hard drive data on Recycle Bin, it’s time to try the following two data recovery software.

1. Using Windows File Recovery to recover lost files

Windows File Recovery is a CMD tool released by Microsoft, which is available for Windows 10 2004 and above. It can restore multiple types of files, containing jpg/png/pdf/docx/xlsx/mov/zip, etc. The biggest downside of it is difficult to use because it does not give users an intuitive interface, so users have to learn some strange parameters. The parameters and steps are given below.

▪ Source drive: the place where files are lost/deleted.
▪ Target drive: the place where you choose to store the recovered files.
▪ Recovery mode: general: Regular & Extensive; advanced: Segment & Signature.
▪ Switches: parameters to target the folders and file types.

The command line format is like: winfr source-drive: destination-drive: [/mode] [/switches].


♦ The source drive and the target drive should be different.

♦ The mode has to do with the following file system.


File system




Deleted recently



Deleted for a while



Formatted disk



Corrupted disk


FAT and exFAT



Check file system: Click This PC > Right-click the source drive > Tap the Properties.

Check File System

Common switches:


Then, you can begin to write the command line.

Step 1. Download and install this tool in Microsoft Store.

Open Start menu > Find and click Microsoft Store > Input Windows File Recovery on the search bar > click Get button.


Step 2. Open Windows File Recovery and click Run as administrator.

Run As Administrator

Step 3. Input your command line, and click Enter.

2. The most recommended software to recover lost files from external hard disk

It's recommended to use MyRecover. It supports Windows 7 or later and also scan out all the lost files by combining two scanning mode, Quick Scan & Deep Scan. Beyond that, it has other advantages.

 Graphical interface: The tool offers a graphical interface to users, so they can recover files with a few mouse clicks.
 High-speed: Its process just takes very little time.
 Widely use: It can restore data from external hard disk/ internal hard disk/SSD, and also support FAT32, NTFS, exFAT, and ReFS in Windows.
 Various files recovery: It can recover various types of files. You can use it to recover photos, excel, videos, and so on. 
Download SoftwareWin 11/10/8/7/Server
Secure Download

Download it and see how to recover hidden files from external hard drive with it. 

Step 1. Launch MyRecover on your PC, hover the mouse over the drive where your file was saved and click Scan.

AOMEI Data Recovery Step1

Step 2. The software will run Quick Scan and Deep Scan automatically. After scanning, you can see all the deleted files/folders and other missing files.

AOMEI Data Recovery Step2

Step 3. Select a path to store the files, and then click Recover x files to retrieve your target data. 

AOMEI Data Recovery Step3

To sum up

The article offers 3 easy yet effective ways of how to recover hidden data from external hard disk when you can't find files on your external drive. How to recover deleted/lost files also are also introduced. You can pick up proper ways based on your own situation. 

Bryce · Editor
Bryce is an editor of AOMEI Technology, he covers backup & restore, hard disk & partitions management, cloud files transfer, website & database backup and so on for AOMEI. He enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. He loves traveling, Sleeping, reserching and so on. He enjoys helping people find solutions to their problems. He loves traveling, Sleeping, reserching and so on. He would like to spend all time on reaserching computer problems. He is a very cute boy.