USB drive is detected but doesn’t show any data

Patrick Zuva avatar. By: Patrick Zuva
3 minute read
USB drive won't show data

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USB devices are meant to be an easy and convenient data storage option. Indeed, because of their many benefits, their use is widespread, with almost all modern computers and digital devices spotting a USB port. And because we now rely so much on them as a computing tool their failure naturally drives us into a panic.

One of the most common USB errors is when a USB storage device is detected on your machine but does not show data. Of all the USB errors, this is probably the most worrying. It would cause anyone a fright, especially when you have important data saved on the USB drive.

Along with USB drives not being recognized in Windows 10, this problem is actually quite common. And unless the data has been accidentally erased, you can still recover it. But how does it ever happen? Can saved data just vanish without you deleting it?

What causes USB devices to stop working properly

In most of the cases where a USB drive fails to show any data despite the computer detecting it, the culprit can be traced to a virus infection. And in the majority of these cases, the data is not lost. Rather, the virus just hides it by creating a shortcut that does not lead anywhere.

So when you encounter this problem after you recently used the USB drive on another computer or lent it to a friend, know that a virus is likely the reason. So maybe before you even try to recover your missing data, you will want to first clean the USB storage device by scanning it using an anti-malware or anti-virus software.

After that, you should go on and instruct your Windows computer to show the hidden files. To do that, follow the navigation path below:

Windows Explorer > Tools > Folder Options > View Tab 

Once in the View Tab, check the ‘show hidden files, folders, and drives’ option. The pop-up screen should look like this;

How to restore your hidden USB files

Now you can go ahead and restore your files. First, you need to identify what letter your USB drives identifies with. Mine is E. To do that, follow the following steps;

  1. Click the Windows icon and type cmd in the search bar and hit enter to access the Command Prompt window. Or you can use the WindowsKey+R shortcut.
  2. Copy this string  attrib s /s /e:*.* into the Command Prompt, like this:
  3. Replace the with your USB drive’s letter. Hit the enter key.

You can now go and open your USB storage device. Your data should now be showing. In case there are any files you can’t recognize, just rename and open to recover your data.

As a safeguard and to avoid exposing your computer to viruses and malware, avoid lending out any USB storage devices with important data. It is also not a good practice to use your USB drives on computers with no antivirus software installed.

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