Why is USB pen drive not showing data but space used?

December 10, 2018 |

greater than 5 minutes

Using a USB pen drive should be easy and straightforward. However, sometimes the USB pen drive doesn’t show your files or folders, yet you can see that it’s occupied. In other words, your computer recognizes the pen drive but is unable to read the data.

If you’re faced with this predicament and are wondering “Why is the USB pen drive not showing data but space used?” We have all the answers for you.

The common causes that make your USB pen drive but not the content visible are outdated drivers and virus infections.

Have you ever opened your USB drive, only to find empty shortcuts of your files and folders? This can be very frustrating, considering how important the files are. The same case can happen to your hard drives or SD cards.

This article gives you a step-by-step guide on how to solve the USB pen drive not showing data issue on Windows 10

Reasons why you can’t see files and folders stored in your USB pen drive:

  • The files were not copied to the pen drive. While this may seem like a no-brainer, it happens most of the time. You simply could have forgotten to copy the files when you plugged in the pen drive.
  • Deletion by mistake. You can accidentally delete your files and folders from the USB pen drive, or a malware invasion could have caused the deletion. If you notice files or folders that end with .exe (application type) or .lnk (link or shortcut type), that’s a possible virus attack. Scan the files first before opening them.
  • Damaged pen drive. USB pen drives get damaged often, which makes them inaccessible. If the firmware is still intact, you’ll be able to see both the available and occupied space. You can copy files into the drive, but when you unplug and plug it back in, your files will no longer be available.

How to fix USB pen not showing data issue on Windows 10

Solution 1: Unhide USB pen drive files and folders

Here, you have two options:

Option 1: Show hidden files

  1. Connect the USB pen drive to your computer.
  2. Go to Start > Control Panel.
  3. Select “Appearance and Personalization.”
  4. Locate “File Explorer Options,” and click “Show hidden files and folders.”
  5. Make sure you’re on the “View” tab.
  6. Select “Show hidden files, folders, and drives.”
  7. Scroll down and uncheck the box next to “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended).”
  8. Click “Apply,” and then OK.

Option 2: Use Command Prompt to unhide the files if your USB’s content is still not visible

Your files might simply be in ‘hide’ mode, and this method will help you solve the issue.

  1. Right-click Start, and select Command Prompt (Admin), and click “Yes.”
  2. In the Command Prompt window, type the command: attrib -h -r -s /s /d k:\*.* (replace the “k” with the letter assigned to your pen drive).
  3. Hit Enter.

This should bring up all the files in your USB pen drive. Rename the folders without a name to recover the data. If your pen drive doesn’t show your files and folders but still shows the space used, try the next solution.

Solution 2: Connect your USB drive using a different port

Sometimes, the problem might lie in the port you’re using. Your USB drive may not function properly if you use a “dead” port. Alternatively, if you’re connecting your pen drive to your computer using a USB hub, try to connect it directly instead.

Likewise, to make sure your computer is not causing the problem, try to plug in the pen drive to another PC to see if the data will be visible. If this solution fails to show the hidden data in your USB drive, move on to the next solution.

Solution 3: Use Auslogics Driver Updater

Like we mentioned earlier, driver issues could cause your USB pen drive to misbehave. You might have installed a driver that is incompatible with your system or your drivers could be outdated.

If that’s the case, you need a reliable and effective tool that will scan your PC, download and install the latest drivers recommended by the manufacturers. Since it’s difficult to find the exact driver version you want, Auslogics Driver Updater automatically searches for the specific drivers and only installs them if they are compatible with your computer.

USB pen drives and other external drives are known to stop functioning properly when there are conflicts between hardware or devices. Updating the drivers ensures that your system operates without glitches.

Solution 4: Type the path of your folder or file

This solution will only work if you know the path of your file or folder.

  1. Connect the USB pen drive to your computer.
  2. Launch File Explorer, and open the USB drive.
  3. Click the file path address bar next to the “Search” text box.
  4. This highlights your USB drive. Press the End Key on the keyboard to go to the end of the path indicated.
  5. After the backlash (\), type the name of your folder or file. For example, E:\Software\MS Office 2016.
  6. Press Enter to open the specified file or folder.
  7. You can then copy the file or folder and save it to a different location.

Solution 5: Check your USB pen drive for errors

  1. With the pen drive connected to your PC, launch File Explorer.
  2. Right-click the drive, and select “Properties.”
  3. Go to Tools > Check to open the “Error Checking (USB Drive (D:))” window, where “D” is the letter assigned to your USB drive.
  4. Click “Scan and repair drive.”
  5. Your computer will check and fix errors in the USB drive.
  6. If the process is successful, Windows shows the “Your drive was successfully scanned” message.

This process should solve the USB pen drive not showing data issue on Windows 10. If it doesn’t, try the next solution.

Solution 6: Scan your pen drive with Windows Defender

One of the reasons for lost data in your USB drive might be a malware infection. To scan and remove the potential threats:

  1. Right-click “Start,” and go to Settings > Update & Security > Windows Security.
  2. Click “Open Windows Defender Security Center.”
  3. Select “Virus & threat protection.”
  4. Click “Run a new advanced scan.”
  5. You’ll see three options:
  • Full scan – this is a deep scan that checks every file and folder on your hard drives and could take hours to complete.
  • Custom scan – gives you the option to choose the location you want to scan.
  • Windows Defender Offline scan – this option is necessary if the virus proves difficult to remove.
  1. After choosing your option, click Scan now.
  2. Windows will check for and remove malicious software from your computer.
  3. Restart your PC and connect the USB drive to check if you can access your files and folders.
  4. Keep Windows protection definitions up to date for added security.

This tutorial gives you comprehensive solutions to the USB pen drive not showing data issue on Windows 10. Share the solution that worked for you in the comments below.

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