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Windows 7: Windows 7 doesn't see files on Vista external drive

03 Sep 2010   #1

Windows 7 Professional
Windows 7 doesn't see files on Vista external drive

I'm running Windows 7 Professional. A friend of mine is visiting and wanted to share photos and videos of her family. She brought them on an external hard drive. She runs Vista at home.

When we plugged in the drive and went to "Computer", we were able to see that the E drive (her external drive) was half full with her files. But when we clicked into the drive, we were only able to see the folder names (and file names in one of the folders). When we selected all of the folders, my computer reported a much smaller total file size.

We could not open any of the files, even after setting the permissions to make everything possible for everyone. She said that she'd also set the permissions for the drive to open on her computer, before leaving home.

I tried copying the entire drive, but that didn't work.

She's upset now, since she doesn't know what will happen if she ever needs to upgrade from Vista to 7, since she keeps most of her family photos and videos on external drives.

I looked online, but "external drive" problems with Windows 7 seemed to be mostly about improper permissions. No one mentioned that they could see the space the files took up in some views (and the folder/file names), but that when they tried an action, they were informed that the file "wasn't on the drive" any longer.

Yes, we're sure the files are still on the drive. A computer running XP was able to view and copy the files from the same drive with no problem. She didn't change anything before she brought the drive here.

Your insights into this problem are welcome. Thank you in advance.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Sep 2010   #2

Windows 7 Ult, Windows 8.1 Pro,

I'm not exactly sure what this problem is but in order to share an entire drive on Windows 7 or Vista you not only need to enable the sharing using the permission settings but you also need to go into the Advanced Security settings of the drive.

Put a check mark to share the drive and allow the drive to be shared by "Everyone" read and write. You may need to put the drive back into the Vista machine in order to access the Advanced Security settings.

Open Computer tab -> right click Local Disk D -> select Properties -> select Security tab -> click Edit button -> click Add button -> enter "Everyone" will set the read permissions to every user which will attempt to connect to your shared drive) -> click OK -> select the desired permissions "put checks in the boxes" -> click OK -> wait while permissions are set -> and your Done.

You also need to use the "Sharing" tab> Advanced sharing, put a check mark to share the folder, click on permissions box, click on add box to add "Everyone" again, then click in the boxes to give full control then hit "Apply".

The other possiblity is that the A/V installed on the Win 7 machine is blocking the drive from being accessed.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Sep 2010   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate x64 SP1

I would be very hesitant to edit any permissions on the drive. Those may cause issues when she takes the drive back home. How is the drive formatted? NTFS, FAT32, etc?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

03 Sep 2010   #4
Night Hawk

W7 Ultimate x64/W10 Pro x64 dual boot main build-remote pc W10 Pro x64 Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64

Welcome to the Seven Forums! Cydira

The first thing you may want to do is go into the Disk Management tool and right click on the E volume and select the change drive letter option. This will be an attempt to see the drive fully initialized in Windows and available for use.

If you should the "add new volume" wizard appear don't be alarmed as well as a flashing icon on the Start taskbar as part of the autoplay feature in Windows when going to plug in any new external hard drive or flash drive. If your av or other protection program prompts to scan the drive let the scan run to be sure nothing else is passing along.

You may also have to right click on the drive's icon and open the "Tools" tab in the properties screen to have error checking performed. That will allow the checkdisk tool to scan and repair any volume errors found.

Attached Images
Windows 7 doesn't see files on Vista external drive-checkdisk-w7.jpg 
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Sep 2010   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate (x64)

To all the excellent advice already given I'd like to add that as far as I know external drives care little for the actual OS on your PC, i.e. it should not matter whether you're using Vista or 7 or XP for that matter (as long as the size of the drive is compatible with the OS; this is only a problem for older OS though). However, sometimes the drive should be *installed*, i.e. the system should have a proper driver.

Usually that happens automatically. When you plug in your drive for the first time, a little icon appears in the notification area of the taskbar with the pop-up notice telling you that Windows is installing the device driver. To check whether your drive was installed properly you can use any of the methods already posted, or you can look it up in the device manager. If the driver is installed properly and the device is working according to the device manager, then you have to look into the next issue, i.e. the permissions.

This depends on how your disk is formatted. If it's a FAT32 disk, then there should not be any problem as typically files in FAT32 do not carry permissions. There might be an issue is the drive is set to be a shared drive on your friends home system with certain permissions for the share configured. If the disk is formatted NTFS then the permission problem can be solved easily by taking ownership of the files and folders and subsequently setting "full control" permissions to "Everyone". This would make the drive visible to any computer you connect it to. Unless your friend has some security concerns regarding the drive, this is the simplest solution.

Of course all this assumes that the drive is functioning properly itself. you might want to run some diagnostic as already discussed in this thread to make sure that this is the case.

Hope that helps.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Sep 2010   #6
Night Hawk

W7 Ultimate x64/W10 Pro x64 dual boot main build-remote pc W10 Pro x64 Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64

Most externals typically see Fat 32 or exFat being the newer form while many are also NTFS from the factory. If the retail box states Windows/Mac compatible that will be Fat 32 automatically for compatibility with the other OS.

You will also see an installer menu appear when first plugged in while Windows is running not before the system is started up. A quick unplug from the usb port and then replug it right back in will cause Windows to detect the "new hardware" and assign a drive letter if not already seeing one.

If the drive was left factory never having been reformatted any software installer should come to life at that time and once on make the drive fully accessible. If the software was lost the support site should see a downloadable form provided you have the drive's serial number to input at the support site.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Sep 2010   #7

Windows 7 Professional

Thank you all for the suggestions!

The drive is formatted in NTFS, though since it's very old, it was probably originally FAT32.

When we plugged it in, we didn't see any pop-ups and I didn't think to check for drivers. We did set "full control" for everyone, but it didn't help. Would she have to do this on her Vista machine?

I'll get the drive back from her and try again later today. She was really, really upset and angry at Microsoft, but I do want to find a solution for her, to put her mind at ease.

I'll report back when we're done.

Thanks again.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Sep 2010   #8

Windows 7 Professional

We tried a number of the suggestions, and nothing worked.

We were about to give up, when I realized that the fact that the drive was plugged into one port of a USB hub might make a difference. We plugged it directly into a USB port and it worked exactly the way it was supposed to.

So, it wasn't Windows 7 at all, but our mistake. Thank you again for all of your help.

PS: My friend isn't angry at Microsoft anymore.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Sep 2010   #9
Microsoft MVP


Good catch. I notice sometimes External doesn't invoke "Safely Remove Hardware" when plugged to hub which means it's not behaving correctly, even when able to access the data.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Sep 2010   #10
Night Hawk

W7 Ultimate x64/W10 Pro x64 dual boot main build-remote pc W10 Pro x64 Insider Preview/W7 Pro x64

Some usb hubs are not even worth the time while some seem to work for everything. I bought a 6 port where nothing would work and later a smaller 4 port Cyberpower out of a Walmart and everything works on it except for the present iluminated keyboard that requires a direct plug in to a main port.

Fortunately USB 3.0 will be seeing an improvement by raising the mA value up from 100mA to 150mA supporting one more device per port. That will be good for devices that tend to draw on the bus more then others and likely why the external HD needed to go direct if the hub was lacking a bit.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Windows 7 doesn't see files on Vista external drive

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