Files Disappeared from External Hard Drive but Still Taking Space, What To Do

We often use external hard drives for storing and backing up data, transferring files, and other tasks. Recently, one of our teammates faced this issue – 

I recently connected my external hard drive to transfer files from my PC to the drive. Due to some reasons, the transfer got interrupted and some files could not be transferred. However, I observed that the size that was equivalent to a few of the files that were not transferred (approximately 1 GB) was consumed on my external hard drive. I can’t seem to find those files and I need space on my drive too. What do I do now? 

Files Missing from External Hard Drive but Still Taking Space

1. Restart your Computer and Reconnect Your External Hard Drive

This is probably the first step you should take. Sometimes when the mirror image gets damaged and your operating system is unable to refresh timely, files and folders may disappear. Here, you can restart your computer first and reconnect the external hard drive again. 

2. Retrieve Files Using A File Recovery Tool

I cut and pasted some files from my external hard drive to my PC. The transfer was unsuccessful and worse! The files were gone from the external hard drive and didn’t make it to my PC. How do I recover those files?

In any instance, like the one above,  if you find that you have lost some crucial files, needn’t lose hope. You can use a file recovery tool and get back accidentally deleted or lost files. 

One such tool is Advanced File Recovery. It can help you recover lost, deleted, or corrupt files from a variety of storage mediums such as external hard drives, internal hard drives, SD cards, and other devices. The tool is capable of handling all data loss conditions such as files lost because the drive crashed, it became unbootable, and many others. 

Here’s How You Can Recover Data From an External Hard Drive Using Advanced File Recovery – 

1. Download, install and run Advanced File Recovery.

2. Select the external hard drive from where you have lost files and click on the Next button.

Files Disappeared From External Hard Drive Taking Space

3. Select the mode of the scan. Here we recommend the Deep Scan mode as it conducts a more in-depth sector-wise scanning. Although this may take some time depending on the size of the hard drive. 

4. Select the type of files you want to recover and click on the Start Scan button. 

5. Select the files that you want to recover and click on the Recover Now button.

Files Disappeared From External Hard Drive Taking Space

6. You can even preview files before recovering them.

3. Scan External Hard Drives for Virus

Malware and other malicious threats that are evolving every day. It is likely that a malicious threat has taken over your files and folders and may have hidden them as well. An Antivirus tool can help you identify and remove such dangerous malware before it causes any further damage. 

4. Check if Files are Hidden

It might be that you have accidentally hidden the files and you are getting the impression that files have disappeared from your external hard drive and are taking space unnecessarily. In that case, here is how you can unhide them – 

1. In the Windows search bar, type cmd and select Run as administrator from the right-hand side. 

2. When the Command Prompt window opens, type the below-mentioned command – 

attrib -s -h -r /s /d F:*.*

Note: Here the letter “F” denotes the drive where files and folders are hidden.

5. Fix Any File System Issues

If files are not showing on your external hard drive and still you see that the storage space is consumed, there are chances that there are some file system issues. To resolve them – 

1. Right-click on your External hard drive and select Properties

2. Click on Tools and then click on the Check button. 

Files Disappeared From External Hard Drive Taking Space

3. Check mark the option that says Automatically fix file system errors

4. Click on Start to begin the procedure. 

6. Check if File Registry Value Has Changed

While not a very common occurrence, some users have reported that the error occurred because the CheckedValue registry key got corrupted due to some reason. So, lastly, you can conduct the checks mentioned in the steps below – 

1. Open the Run dialog box by pressing Windows + R key combination and press Enter

2. In the dialog box, type regedit and press Enter

3. When the Registry Editor opens navigate to the path mentioned below – 


4. On the right-hand side, check the value of CheckedValue. If it is 1, it’s right, if not, then delete it, create another DWORD and rename it as CheckedValue

Files Disappeared From External Hard Drive Taking Space

5. Once created, set its value as 1.  

Wrapping Up

Thankfully for our teammate, restarting and reconnecting the external hard drive did the trick. But, in another instance, while transferring files disappeared from both the PC and external hard drive, and in that scenario, the user was able to retrieve lost files by using file recovery software. If you have been in the same situation.

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