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Fix: Can’t See USB Drive’s Files and Folders on Windows

The USB is the most common PC peripheral people use for transferring files. However, USB drives can also malfunction in mysterious ways. For example, you plug your USB drive into the computer and find missing files. What would you do if you had an important file on the USB drive? Interestingly, you don’t have to panic as you can find many solutions for the missing files or folders on your USB drive. The following post offers a detailed outline of simple fixes for your missing USB drive files and folders on Windows.

Common Reasons You Can’t See Your USB Drives Files and Folders

The mere thought of not being able to locate your valuable data on a USB drive can be quite devastating. However, you can find the solution by identifying the causes of such problems. Here are a few reasons you cannot see your files and folders in your pen drive.

  • Your USB drive might be damaged: A damaged USB is one of the common causes of missing files and folders on your pen drive. The damaged USB drive might have a well-functioning firmware and display storage space like any other drive. However, the pen drive would function only when attached to a source of electric voltage or current. In such cases, the USB drive would not hold the data when it is removed from a system.
  • Accidental deletion of your files and folders: Accidental deletion is the most troublesome reason behind your missing files and folders from a USB drive. You might have deleted them without notice, or a virus or malware embedded in a file played foul. For example, mysterious files with an exe or lnk extension can delete files from your pen drive when you click on them. In addition, particular freeware and shareware can also be responsible for wiping off your data.
  • Your files are hidden: Another common cause of missing USB drive files and folders is hidden. Users might not know the exact path for accessing the hidden files and folders. If you select the option for hiding a file or folder, it becomes invisible from explorer. Similarly, saving a file or folder as a Protected System File or Folder would also become invisible in explorer.
  • Virus/Malware attack: The top culprit for missing files and folders is viruses, which can delete or modify files. Viruses can create invisible links and application files for spreading to other pen drives. It is important to note that an autorun inf file will automatically launch the virus if you have enabled the autorun property on your USB drive.

Can't See Your USB Drive's Files and Folders on Windows

Fix: Can’t See Your USB Drive’s Files and Folders on Windows

The reasons for missing files and folders from a USB drive on Windows show that keeping your data safe is challenging. On the other hand, you can try solving the problem by implementing the following fixes.

  1. Check if the files are hidden
  2. Show hidden files in Command Prompt
  3. Connect the USB stick to Another PC
  4. Run the Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter
  5. Check and Fix USB Pen Drive Errors
  6. Update your USB drivers
  7. Run the CHKDSK tool

You will need admin permission to resolve the problem

1] Check if the Files Are Hidden

If your files or folders are hidden, you cannot see them in your pen drive on Windows explorer. You can use the following steps to fix this problem.

  • Access the View ribbon from the File Explorer
  • Check the Hidden items option.
  • Go back to the USB drive and check.

2] Show Hidden Files in Command Prompt

Windows command prompt or CMD can also help you find hidden files. Here are the steps to show hidden files in the command prompt.

  • Press the Windows and R keys to open the Run window and type CMD for the command prompt.
  • The dir command can help you identify the folder you want, and the following command can help you find your missing files: dir /a:h <path-to-your-folder>
  • Use the commands such as /a:d for showing all hidden directories or /a for showing hidden folders.

 3] Connect the USB Stick to Another PC

If you cannot find your files on your pen drive when you plug them into one computer, try them on another device. A faulty pen drive would not display files on any device. However, you must check your computer settings to see if you can find the files on another device.

 4] Run the Hardware and Devices Troubleshooter

A damaged USB drive can turn into your worst nightmare. Using a pen drive frequently can damage the pen drive. In such cases, you can try the Hardware and Devices troubleshooter to solve the problem. Use the command prompt with the following steps for fixing the problem.

  • Access the Command Prompt as an administrator by searching for the command prompt in the Start Menu and right-clicking on it. It could help you choose the option for Run as Administrator.
  • You have to type the command msdt.exe –id DeviceDiagnostic in the command prompt and hit Enter to access the Hardware and Devices window.
  • Select the Advanced option and check the box for Apply repairs. You can click on Next to start the troubleshooting process.

5] Check and Fix USB Pen Drive Errors 

The properties dialog box of a USB pen drive can also help you find a solution to the missing files and folders from the pen drive. Here are the steps for checking and fixing USB pen drive errors.

  • Right-click on the USB drive icon in Windows Explorer and choose Properties.
  • Select the Tools tab and click on the Check button. You will find a popup for Scan and repair drive. Click on the popup, and it will scan for any possible errors and repair the USB drive.

6] Update your USB drivers

An outdated or corrupted driver can also be one of the possible causes for missing files and folders from your USB drive. Follow our detailed guide to update the USB driver, or you can also download directly from the OEM website and update it.

7] Run the CHKDSK tool 

The final and most loved solution for checking errors in USB drives is the CHKDSK tool. You can use the tool for scanning any internal or external disk drive for errors alongside resolving them. Here are the simple steps for using the popular Windows troubleshooting tool.

  • Access the command prompt as an administrator
  • Type the following command— chkdsk <USBDRIVELetter:> /f /r
  • Press Enter, and you can begin the scanning process.

chkdsk /f: this command can find and fix any errors on the hard disk.

chkdsk /r: this command can detect and locate the bad sectors on the target USB. It will then try to recover the readable information from the bad sectors

Once the scan is complete, Windows will fix minor errors which were not allowing the files to be visible. These are header corruptions that are easy to fix.

Recover Files if Nothing Else Works

The value of the files in your pen drive can be a critical factor in letting go of a faulty pen drive. On the other hand, luck doesn’t favor you in most cases, and the solutions for missing USB device files and folders don’t give the expected results. In such cases, you need to use a data recovery tool. However, you have to be careful in using the recovery tool. Remember to use the tool before copying any file from the affected USB drive or formatting it.


The problem of missing files and folders from your pen drive can be stressful. You don’t have to lose your valuable data to mysterious circumstances such as accidental deletion or malware attacks. The simple solutions recommended by experts can serve some respite from such challenging scenarios. However, it would help if you were careful about the security of your data. Take the best step with the EaseUS Todo Backup recovery tool for safeguarding the files and folders on your USB drive.

How To Keep USB Drive Safe?

You can follow simple methods for keeping your USB files and folders safe. For example, maintain a track of your drive’s usage or avoid editing files directly on the USB drive. In addition, a simple routine of regularly updating your computer and the USB drivers can keep your USB drive safe.

Should I Eject the Drive Before Taking It Out of Windows?

The practice of ejecting the USB drive before disconnecting it from your Windows system is essential for safeguarding your files. It helps in preventing your files from getting corrupted. While most of the time, nothing will happen. But if you edit a file and eject the drive, it may corrupt it.

He has been covering Technology and Windows, specifically tutorials, how-to, and guides on software. He also loves to play PC games, and answer technical questions.



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