Why are some files not visible on my external hard drive?

Jonathan Aherne January 8, 2012
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On an external hard drive, a bunch of files have disappeared. The files contained music (mostly mp3s and flac files).

I mostly use Foobar2000 to play music. Now if the songs are already in a playlist they can still be played. If I know the name of the folder it is possible to type the name and find it. However if I use Windows or Foobar to try and see what folders or songs are there, they will not appear.

I have tried to scan for malware and viruses and have also tried unhiding hidden files. I am using Windows XP.

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  1. Merlin Rajaselvi
    August 14, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Thank you. It worked !

  2. Chuck
    July 30, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    I have used a WD external hard drive on my Gateway computer, which uses Windows Vista. My wife plugged it into her Mac to put some of her documents on it and now only the stuff she added to it shows up initially. I'm 95% sure my stuff (which used a lot of the memory) is still on there as her stuff requires very little memory and the memory is almost all used up. But my stuff isn't showing up. Any help how to get my stuff back would be greatly appreciated!

  3. rushang
    July 3, 2012 at 5:29 am

    My external hard disk contains data which are not visible but from cmd i can see the data.I have tried the attrib command but i got access denied.I have also tried to copy the folders but some 7 files copied and then stop.Can anyone give me the solution?

    • robert
      July 28, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      go to notepad and type cmd.com
      then go to save as click on the file type option and select show all then save the file as cmd.bat
      once its saved go to where you saved it and right click run as administrator and then do the attrib command

  4. Ed
    January 21, 2012 at 4:43 am

    You will notice that it is not the files that are missing but the folders. This is because of a virus. What the virus does is it hides the folders and makes an exe file with a folder icon that point to your original folder.

    If your external drive or usb/flash drive is infected and you use it in another computer with an updated anti-virus, the antivirus will delete the exe files but will not restore your original folders. So your files and the folders are still there, it is just hidden.

    That’s why you can still open the folder if you type it manually in the explorer bar. But unhiding hidden files is not enough, because the virus also change the folder attributes to “protected operating system files” not just “hidden”. Windows by default hide protected OS files even if you choose to show hidden files and folders.

    So how can you unhide the files?  If you’re using Windows 7, open C: then click on organize at the upper left side of the window. Folder Options window will open, click the view tab and choose “Show hidden files, folders and drives” and (this is important) UNCHECK “ Hide protected operating system files”. Click apply or OK. You can now see your original folders.

    The easiest way to fix this is to create a new folder and transfer all
    the files from the old folder to the new one. If this thing happens again and
    again because you’re using multiple computers and one of them are infected, I suggest just making your own shortcut of the folders. Right click the folder and choose Create Shortcut. This particular virus does not modify any shortcut so you will not have to worry about it again.

    • Amatulms
      January 22, 2012 at 7:38 pm

      what to do if you're using a mac?? i don't want to lose some very imp pictures that i saved on my hard disk.. HELP!!!!

      • Ed
        January 23, 2012 at 2:44 am

        I'm not familiar in MacOS, but try looking for the option of showing hidden and system files on your OS.

        • Markmifsud
          April 20, 2012 at 5:20 am

          Cheers Ed
          Worked a treat, nice simple intstructions :)

          ty

      • Tina
        January 26, 2012 at 7:29 pm

        Amatulms,

        if you have this issue on a Mac, I recommend asking a new question since the question above is specifically about Windows. You will most likely receive an answer within hours.

        • vikash malhotra
          August 12, 2012 at 1:47 pm

          I have an Ext hard disk but the data inside it does not show in mac and Windows 7..what should i do??..i have lots of data in my Ext harddisk and i dont want to lose it. Help me...

    • FARZI
      May 5, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      thanks buddy. u r a real dude. it wrked beautifully.

    • Pieter
      May 6, 2012 at 6:46 pm

      Thank you! Saved me :D

    • Matt
      May 29, 2012 at 1:06 am

      Ed, thank you very much for your help. I really, really, really appreciate it.

    • Homayoon
      June 17, 2012 at 10:10 am

      thanks, this was the easies way i could got my data, that was wonder ful

    • Bhawna
      June 23, 2012 at 2:43 pm

      man! u saved me...worked perfect...thanks a lot..

    • Sumit
      June 28, 2012 at 8:53 am

      thanx genius.......looking for the solution from a long time......

    • Bonny
      July 11, 2012 at 9:21 am

      You are my hero!! Thank you thank you thank you!! I have searched the internet and did everything that was said but my files stayed MIA, then i found this page and most importantly "UNCHECK “ Hide protected operating system files" (which none of the other sites stated) and all my files appeared.

    • Sakibhasan
      July 25, 2012 at 9:12 am

      please tell me how to do it xp, same problem, in explorer bar its coming but folders are not showing there in hdd, please ans me, thanks

    • aaa
      August 3, 2012 at 5:41 pm

      Thanks a lot, Ed. It worked.

    • Alfonso
      August 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm

      Thank you Ed

    • aditya
      August 12, 2012 at 6:37 pm

      thnks budddy

  5. Edwarmo
    January 16, 2012 at 4:02 am

    That exact thing happened to me recently.  My files were disappearing on my external hard drive.  My laptop had a virus that caused it to scan for errors.  The virus was doing the "scanning."  Laptop wound up saying that there was a hard drive error.  It was all a virus.  Geek Rescue took care of everything --took 3 hours.

  6. Jonathan Aherne
    January 9, 2012 at 11:05 am

    Thanks ha14. I tried the first part but it didn't work. Unfortunately having the computers skills of a duck, I am afraid to touch anything to do with the registry so the second may not be possible.  

    I have however use a programme called "search everything" (found out about it on makeuseof) and can see the files with that so I am moving them to a place where they can be seen by windows. Not a perfect answer but it will do.

    • ryandigweed
      January 15, 2012 at 11:32 am

      That's the quickest solution :) 

  7. Anonymous
    January 8, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    go to "RUN" from start menu and type attrib -s -h D:/filename (d: is the external hard drive, maybe different in your case)

    or from cmd type: ATTRIB -S -H *.* /S /D

    if Show hidden files and folders in windows explorer is infected then

    open regedit
    Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and then open Software.Under this navigate to: Microsoft -> Windows -> Current Version -> Explorer Then go to Advanced -> Folder -> Hidden -> SHOWALL
    Delete the value CheckedValue.
    Create a new DWORD value called CheckedValue (same as above, except that the type is REG_DWORD).

    Modify the value data to 1 (0×00000001).This should enable you to select the ‘Show hidden files and folders’ option without much problem..

    • prashant
      May 10, 2012 at 9:11 am

      thanks ..
      -s -h does the trick.. but i think. there can be a script made.. which takes input drive letter and.. it runs a for loop such that it can run -s -h for all the folders.

    • MM
      September 10, 2012 at 12:21 pm

      when i open regedit, it disappear immediately. What could be the problem? Please tell me how to resolve this issue?

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