How to Fix USB Shows Empty but is Full?

🕔 8 minutes read

Is your USB drive full but shows empty or visa versa? Are you looking to resolve this issue, worry no more, in this article find 4 easy ways that can help you. As a quick way to recover data from USB before trying these troubleshooting methods download the Remo Data Recovery tool.

USB flash drives are no doubt a great choice for data transfer and storage. Their lightweight, portability, and high storage capacity are some of the great features they provide. Despite these advantages, like all storage devices, USB drives or pen drives are often prone to corruption, or input-output errors in USB, and data loss at some point in time.

A few minutes ago I encountered the problem ‘solved USB drive shows empty but files are there’, but I'm using Windows. 4 GB flash drive, I had about 1 GB of data, then while opening it seemed to be empty, but in properties it had 1 GB of occupied space.

 - A User Experience from

You might have encountered a similar issue. In this article we have covered USB shows empty but is full issue. When you encounter this USB full but empty on Windows or Mac, you may find that your pen drive is working properly but all the data saved on it is hidden or missing. 

Table of Contents:

  1. Reasons why your flash drive is empty but says full
  2. How to fix the USB drive that shows full but no files?

Why can't I see the files saved on my flash drive?

There are many reasons for the pen drive showing empty. Some of the common causes are as follows;

  • The USB device is virus/ malware-infected.
  • USB drive is corrupt or damaged.
  • Bad sectors in the USB drive.
  • Files are hidden or deleted from the flash drive.
  • Flash drive is improperly inserted or connected to your computer.

Important Note: If Your USB drive says no media. then go through this article to find out how to fix USB flash drive no media issue.

6 ways to fix the USB is full but shows empty issue:

Method 1: Show Hidden Files and unhide folders on USB stick

Sometimes it is possible that the files in the USB drive are hidden; hence, your USB is empty. In order to make sure this is not the inherent problem, unhide files using the following steps to fix the flash drive full but no files show the issue.

  • Connect your USB flash drive to your system.
  • Go to This PC and click on File at the top left corner, then navigate to change folder and search options.

click on change folder and search options to view the hidden files

  • In the pop-up window click on the View tab and in the Advanced settings navigate to Hidden Files and Folders select show hidden files, folders, and drives. Then click Apply to see the hidden items option.

select the hidden files, folders, and drives option

Now, check if the files and folders on your USB are showing up or not. In case, if your USB shows full but empty, then proceed to the next method.

Method 2: Check USB Drive For Errors

You may check and resolve issues on your USB drive using integrated methods like checking for errors:

  • From your home screen, go to This PC. Select the USB Drive that appears to be empty but is actually full. Go to Properties by right-clicking on it.
  • Go to the Tools section of the Properties pop-up menu and click the Check.

run check error checking option to fix usb shows empty but its full error

  • "Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors" and "Automatically Fix File System Errors" are the two possible approaches. Select one of the choices and press "Start."

This procedure should identify and fix any errors in your Drive. You can try both solutions one after the other to resolve the error.

Method 3: Run Anti-virus

A virus on your USB device may be causing it as well. To rule out this issue, run an anti-virus scan on your USB device. 

You might be wondering how to check a USB drive for viruses.

This can be done either using Windows Defender or any third-party anti-virus application. If you find any viruses on the pen drive, get rid of them. If the scan shows that your USB device is free from any threat, you can proceed to the next method.

Important Point: A virus or malware attack might change the actual storage capacity of your USB drive. Kindly refer to this article to find out what to do if your USB stick is not showing full capacity.

Method 4: Run the CHKDSK command to fix the USB stick not showing files

If you're familiar with your Windows PC's Command-Line, you could use this way to fix your USB Drive.

  • In the search panel on your home screen, type "cmd" and select the Command Prompt option that appears.

Note: Make sure you run the command prompt as an Administrator.

  • In the Command Prompt window, type chkdsk #: /f and click Enter to execute the command. ("#" in the command "chkdsk #: /f" must be substituted with the Drive letter for example your USB drive shows drive f then use f).

run chkdsk command to fix usb drive is full but shows empty issue

After this command is executed, all of your data may reappear, and your USB Drive may show as full once again. If you’re still seeing your USB drive full or empty go through the next method to recover missing USB files but space is still used.

If the previous methods didn’t totally resolve the USB is empty but says full, your USB flash drive has become severely corrupt.

In such cases you can format the drive to fix the issue. However, formatting the drive might result in data loss. Hence it is recommended to always take a backup of your important files. If you have not taken the backup then we recommend you to make use of a USB recovery tool by Remo.

Method 5: Format the USB drive to fix an issue USB empty but full

Follow the steps below to fix usb shows empty but is full.

  • Go to the File Explorer and right click on your USB
  • Now select the Format option and select the file system you want to format your USB with and select the Check box with Quick Format

quick formats

Method 6: Use Remo Recover Software to recover USB stick not showing files

Remo Recover is a powerful USB recovery tool built with a deep scan engine, specifically to recover data from USB drives and the other external storage devices that are severely corrupted or showing empty. Additionally, it is compatible with all the latest versions of Windows and Mac operating systems including Windows 11 and macOS Ventura.

Download this tool for free now!

Note: You can recover data from memory sticks with the help of the Remo Recover tool.

To Recover Files from the USB drive Showing Empty or Full:

  • Download and install Remo Recover software on your Windows or Mac.
  • Launch the software and select the USB drive from the home screen.

select the usb flash drive that shows empty but it is full

  • Now, if you can’t locate the USB drive that is not showing your files on Windows or Mac, you can click on Can’t Find Drive? option this will help the tool to find the USB drive you’re looking for.
  • Once the scanning process completes, you can find all your files from the USB drive showing empty in Dynamic Recovery View.

recover data from usb drive that shows empty

  • You can preview the files and verify the recovery by clicking on Preview.

recover data from usb drive that shows empty

  • Now, select the files which you wish to recover and click the Recover button to restore them to a preferred location.

Wait for the scan to complete to fix the USB drive showing as empty issue. Once the CHKDSK scan completes, you can access all your files from the pen drive. But if the USB drive corruption is severe, then you cannot fix the issue using this method. In such an instance, you need to format your drive on Windows or Mac to fix the problem.

Tips for managing your USB drives better:

  • In order to avoid USB devices showing no files or empty, always make sure you remove the device using Safely Remove Hardware.
  • Secondly, don’t interrupt a data transfer process. This means, that if a data transfer between USB and your system is in progress, don’t interrupt the transfer or remove the device midway.
  • Avoid connecting USB flash drives to virus-infected devices.


If your USB drive is full but still appears to be empty, you should be concerned about the security of your data. Either try to repair it or use the Remo Data Recovery tool to safely extract all of your data from the infected USB Drive.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How To Check Storage Space on a Flash Drive?

Navigate to File Explorer > This PC > Devices and drives and find your inserted flash drive.
Right-click on the flash drive and choose Properties to view the storage capacity.

2. Why is my USB drive not showing up?

As mentioned earlier, the reason can be anything right from virus infection, malware attack, improper connection, or ejection of the USB flash drive. Can be the reason why you can't see your files on USB.

3. How to Retrieve Hidden Files in a Flash Drive?

Make use of Remo Recover to recover hidden files in flash drive caused by virus attack. Remo is built with powerful drive identifier technology that can deeply scan and find all the connected drives. And the advanced A.I scanners are built to recover all lost, missing, hidden files not just from USB drives, but also from other storage drives.

4. How can I check if the files on my USB are Hidden?

You can go to the folder options Settings on your computer and choose the option to expose hidden files and folders to search for hidden files on your USB device. Once you've done so, any hidden files on your USB drive ought to be visible.

5. How to get more space on the USB Flash Drive?

By making additional partitions from the drive's available free space, you can expand the storage space on your USB stick. To allocate free space, follow these steps:
●      Go to the Disk Management and find the unallocated volume.
●      Right click on it and select New Simple Volume.
●      Enter the size of a new partition and click on Next
Now select a drive letter and select a volume label from the drop down and click on the Next option and finally click on the Finish.

6. Why does it say my USB is full when it's not?

Following are the reasons why your USB shows full but it is empty
●      Logical issues like corruption, bad sectors, etc., might result in USB corruption.
●      If your flash drive is physically damaged like moisture, dirt, etc.
●      In case you are trying to copy a large file above 4GB on the USB drive which is formatted with FAT32. Because FAT32 can support copying/transfering the files less than 4GB. 

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John Harris

Senior Editor, Content Analyst and a fan of exceptional customer service. John develops and publishes instructional and informational content regarding partition management, Windows hot-fixes, data management and computer troubleshooting.

As a tenured data recovery specialist, John shares exceptional insights and blog posts about data loss and data recovery across any storage device. With 8+ years’ experience in writing for Data Recovery for both Mac OS and Windows OS computers, he is an avid learner who always wants to polish and simplify the data recovery process. John passes his free time playing Chess and reading Science Fiction novels.

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