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Recover Files Disappeared from External Hard Drive on Mac

Updated on Wednesday, June 22, 2022

iBoysoft author Rivers Wong

Written by

Rivers Wong
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Jessica Shee

Files Disappeared from External Hard Drives/USB Drives on Mac, Why & How to Fix?

Summary: In this article, you'll learn why your files are lost, deleted, missing, or disappeared from an external hard drive or a USB flash drive on Mac, and recover them with 4 methods. Downloading iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery to recover lost data from external hard drives on Mac is the easiest one.

recover files disappeared from external hard drives on Mac

Many users have stated in forums that they can't see files on USB drives on Mac even though they're sure they have copied files and pasted them to the USB flash drive. The same thing occurs for external hard drives, too. Indeed, most users don't know how their files disappeared from the external hard drives exactly, just like the user below:

I hope someone has a solution to my problem. I have a MacBook Pro, and I have a 2 TB Seagate external hard drive whose all capacity has almost been used. Everything was fine until I restarted my MacBook Pro: half of the files are missing and 1TB of this external hard drive is free. I just don't get how did that happen and I have very important files that I don't know how to get them back.

If it sounds like you, don't worry then! By reading this post, you'll learn the reasons that lead to files disappeared from external hard drives on Mac. And you can try to recover them with the 4 solutions mentioned below.

Table of Contents:

Files disappeared from external hard drives on Mac, why?

It would be bewildering or even annoying if you find that your folders get disappeared from external hard drives. Wondering why you can't see files on external hard drives on Mac? Well, some common reasons could be:

  • You accidentally deleted these files. 
  • The external hard drive or USB flash drive was mistakenly formatted. 
  • Folders disappeared due to the attack of viruses or malware. 
  • Files are hidden by the system of your USB external drive. 
  • The file is not showing up because the file system of this disk drive is corrupted. 
  • Other reasons.

4 solutions to recover files disappeared from external hard drives on Mac

No matter what makes your folders missing, the most imperative thing is how to recover lost files on Mac. Keep reading to check out how to recover deleted or lost files from your external hard drive on Mac. 

Solution 1: Restore disappeared/deleted files from the Trash

Even though you would say "I had never deleted my files on this drive", it is possible that you accidentally press "Move to Trash" and deleted them occasionally. Anyway, to make sure if your files disappeared from the external hard drive on Mac due to accidental deletion, you can check the Trash on your Mac and see if your files are there or not.

If fortunately, your files deleted from the external hard drive or USB flash drive are in the Trash, you can follow the steps to recover them easily.

Step 1: Click the Trash icon on the dock of your desktop to open it.

Step 2: Check if your lost files are in the Trash.

Step 3: If you find the lost files, you can right-click on these items and choose Put Back.

Restore disappeared/deleted files from the Trash

After you put them back, your files will be recovered and get back to your drive.

Solution 2: Recover and show disappeared files in the Finder

Sometimes, files on your external hard drives, USB flash drives, memory cards, etc. are not missing but hidden by the system, especially files that started with a dot. In this situation, you only need to show hidden files on your Mac.

If you have files starting with a dot disappeared from your drive, here's how to find hidden files on external hard drives on Mac:

Step 1: Click the smile face (Finder) icon at the dock of your Mac to open the Finder.

Step 2: Find the external hard drive or USB drive where your disappeared files were saved in the left sidebar.

Step 3: Press Command + Shift + . key combinations.

Recover and show disappeared files in the Finder

You will see your missing files or folders appearing as grayed out in the right column of the Finder. Then, you can open and check these files normally.

Solution 3: Repair the external hard drive/USB flash drive with First Aid

If your folders have disappeared from an external hard drive or a USB flash drive, but you didn't see them in the Trash or the Finder, it could have issues with your drive. The most common reason is “file system errors”, like the file system of this disk is corrupted. It happens particularly after you plug this disk into several computers. But don't worry, Mac has a built-in application called Disk Utility which is designed to verify and repair minor drive errors.

Using Disk Utility to recover files that disappeared from external hard drive on Mac:

Step 1: Go to Applications and choose Disk Utility in Utilities.

Step 2: Launch Disk Utility and click "Show all devices" in the View option.

Step 3: Select your external hard drive or USB flash drive that lost data in the left sidebar.

Step 4: Click First Aid to check and repair errors in that drive.

Repair the external hard drive/USB flash drive with First Aid

After repairing your disk drive with Disk Utility, you can check if your files are showing up or not. Hope First Aid will work and you don't need to recover your files at all.

Solution 4: Recover disappeared files with Mac data recovery software

However, if you still can't see your files after trying the solutions above, You can try to recover deleted or lost files from external hard drives on Mac with Mac data recovery software like iBoysoft Mac Data Recovery.

iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac is a reliable Mac file recovery software. It is powerful in recovering deleted/lost photos, audio files, pages, documents, movies, etc. This data recovery tool can not only recover disappeared data from emptied Trash but also can recover lost data from external drives like external hard drives, USB flash drives, sd cards, memory cards, etc.

What's more, iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac can also recover lost data from formatted, unreadable, unmountable, unrecognizable drives on Mac. 

Tutorial to recover files that disappeared from external drives on Mac

Step 1: Download, install and launch iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac on your Mac.

Step 2: Connect your external hard drive or flash drive to your Mac.

Step 3: Check "Deep scan" at the left bottom and select your external hard drive where your files disappeared.

Step 4: Click "Next" to scan for data on this drive.

Free SD card data recovery software - iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac

Step 5: Preview the scanning results to make sure the files are not corrupted.

Preview the disappeared files before recovering them

Step 6: Choose the files you want to recover and click "Recover" to get your files back.

Conclusion

After reading this article, we believe you can recover files or folders that have disappeared from USB external hard drives on Mac now.

However, there are still many reasons that will lead to files disappearing from the external hard drive on Mac, we just listed a few of them. To avoid data loss, the best and safest way is to make multiple backups on a regular basis. Just as the saying goes: a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

FAQs about files disappeared from external hard drives on Mac

A

1. Connect your external hard drive to your Mac.
2. Double-click the USB hard drive icon on the desktop to open up a Finder window and browse its contents.

A

If you find your external hard drive is full but you can't access those files in it, you can fix that problem by using Disk Utility. Here's how:
1. Connect your external hard drive to Mac.
2. Go to Launchpad > Others, and click on Disk Utility to open it.
3. Select the external hard drive you can't see files on it in the Sidebar.
4. Click on First Aid at the top and choose Run.

A

To recover missing files in an external hard disk, the easiest way is to use iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac. Follow these steps to get your missing files back:
1. Download, install and launch iBoysoft Data Recovery for Mac on your Mac.
2. Connect your external hard drive or flash drive to your Mac.
3. Check Deep Scan at the left bottom and select your external hard disk where your files disappeared.
4. Click Next to scan for data on this drive.
5. Preview the scanning results to make sure the files are not corrupted.
6. Choose the files you want to recover and click Recover to get your missing files back.