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0 byte file recovery

How to Recover 0-Byte Files

Do you have a file suddenly showing zero bytes? Check out the nine proven methods to fix the problem and recover 0-byte files.
David Darlington
David Darlington Originally published May 17, 24, updated May 17, 24

Are some of your files suddenly showing zero bytes, preventing you from viewing their contents? You know they contain data, so why are they acting up? Several reasons could be the culprits.

Let's see what 0-byte files are and why they become such before exploring the nine tried-and-tested methods to recover 0 byte files.

In this article
    1. Method 1: Download the Files Again
    2. Method 2: Download the Correct ZIP Tool
    3. Method 3: Show Hidden Files
    4. Method 4: Use the System File Checker
    5. Method 5: Delete SysWin Files
    6. Method 6: Run an Antivirus Scan
    7. Method 7: Change File Extensions
    8. Method 8: Use CHKDSK

What Are 0-Byte Files?

zero-byte files in file explorer

By definition, zero-byte files contain no data. However, even empty documents occupy several kilobytes in your storage, so what does the length of 0 bytes mean? It means damage or corruption.

Your computer won't open a corrupted file with zero bytes. It displays an error, stating it can't find the file, preventing you from viewing and updating it. It only lets you delete it.

What if you know the problematic file isn't empty? You can recover it with the methods below.

Reasons Files Show 0 Bytes

The following issues cause files to show zero bytes:

  • Unexpected computer shutdown – A system crash or sudden power loss while writing data to a file can damage it, making it unreadable.
  • Incomplete transfer – Interrupting a download can cause a file to show zero bytes.
  • Malware – A computer virus or other malicious software can damage files, sometimes turning them into 0-byte items.
  • File system errors – Damaged file allocation tables, incorrect formatting, and bad sectors are the most prevalent causes of file system errors, corrupting files, partitions, and entire disks.
  • External drive disconnection while in use – Removing a USB or another device while it writes data (e.g., saving or transferring) can turn affected items into zero-byte files.
  • Unsupported file attributes – Incompatible file types or unusually long names are another cause of 0-byte files.

Recover 0-Byte Files With Professional Data Recovery Software

Professional data recovery software is the go-to solution for restoring zero-byte files. Wondershare Recoverit is your best bet because it can retrieve lost data in 500+ scenarios, including a system crash, disk corruption, malware infection, formatting, and interrupted transfer.

Wondershare Recoverit can seamlessly handle zero-byte file recovery across 1,000+ file formats and 2,000+ storage devices, making it ideal for everyone. Its 98% success rate, 35+ patented tech innovations, and 5+ million global users speak volumes about its reliability. Try it for free to see why it has been the leader since 2003.

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Here's how to recover 0-byte files with Wondershare Recoverit:

  1. Download and install the software on your computer and log into your Wondershare account (or create a new one).
    log into your account
  2. Go to Hard Drives and Locations and choose the storage unit containing your zero-byte files to initiate an automatic scan.
    select a recovery source
  3. Use search filters like file size, type, and time to accelerate the process.
    scan for lost data
  4. Once the software completes Quick and Deep Scans and displays recoverable data, preview your files to ensure everything is in order. Then, select what to retrieve and click Recover.
    preview recoverable files
  5. Choose a secure file path and hit Recover. Please don't save the files in their original location because that would corrupt them.
    select a file path

    Restore 0-Byte Files Without Professional Data Recovery Software

If you don't want to download software, try the methods below to retrieve your zero-byte files.

Method When to Use It
Method 1: Downloading the files againResolving an incomplete transfer, corruption, or malware
Method 2: Downloading the correct ZIP toolExtracting files with unsupported attributes
Method 3: Show hidden filesRevealing the contents of hidden files
Method 4: Use the System File CheckerChecking for corrupted system files after a sudden computer shutdown or malware infection
Method 5: Delete SysWin filesUncovering and removing the SysWin virus
Method 6: Run an antivirus scanDetecting and eliminating potential viruses
Method 7: Change file extensionsRepairing file system errors with the Error Checking Tool
Method 8: Use CHKDSKQuickly fixing file system errors in the CMD

Method 1: Download the Files Again

If your downloaded files show 0 bytes, the logical solution is to download them again. Redownloading them will resolve the issue, whether something interrupted the transfer or the problem occurred later (e.g., due to corruption or malware).

Here's how to recover zero-byte files online in case of an incomplete download:

  1. Visit the website or online service from which you wish to download the file(s).
  2. Hover over the attachment and click the Download button. Here's an example of downloading email attachments:
    download email attachments

Method 2: Download the Correct ZIP Tool

WinZip, WinRAR, and 7-Zip are the best-known file archiver utilities compatible with most zipped files.

However, if someone sent you a RAR archive they compressed using an unfamiliar ZIP utility, you may need that exact tool to extract and view the items. Otherwise, you'll see them as zero-byte files because of unsupported attributes. Here's what to do:

  1. Download the correct ZIP tool.
  2. Right-click your zero-byte file and choose the desired extraction option. Regardless of your ZIP utility, you can extract all files to the current directory, select another path, or unzip the archive as a folder.
    extract zero-byte files
  3. Alternatively, choose Open With [ZIP tool] when right-clicking the file to view all items using your downloaded utility. You can then manage and extract them to the desired location. The following is a WinRAR example, but all ZIP utilities have the same interface.
    extract 0-byte files

Method 3: Show Hidden Files

Hidden files sometimes leave leftovers in the form of zero-byte items. That means you only need to unhide them to reveal their contents.

Here's how to restore 0-byte files if you've accidentally hidden them:

  1. Open File Explorer and click View > Options.
    view folder options in file explorer
  2. Switch to the View tab, click Show hidden files, folders, and drives, and hit Apply > OK.
    show hidden files and folders

Method 4: Use the System File Checker

The System File Checker (SFC) is a built-in Windows utility for scanning and repairing corrupted system files. It can help you restore zero-byte files if malware or a sudden computer shutdown has made them inaccessible.

Here's how to recover 0-byte files with the SFC:

  1. Search for the Command Prompt and select Run as administrator.
    run the cmd as an administrator
  2. Run this command: sfc/ scannow . Scanning all system files may take time, but don't interrupt the process because it will fix potential problems and restore cached copies of your corrupted files.
    system file checker command
  3. If you see the "Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations" message, corrupted system files may not be the cause of your zero-byte problem. However, the CMD may notify you of a successful repair. Either way, restart your PC.
    successfully repaired corrupted files
  4. If the SFC informs you that it couldn't perform the requested operation or fix the corrupted files, try the DISM (Deployment Image Servicing and Management) command-line tool (unavailable on Windows 7). Relaunch the CMD as an administrator and run this command: DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth
    dism command
  5. Once you see 100% progress, restart your PC and scan it with the SFC again. The problem should be gone if the cause was file system corruption.
    successfully restored corrupted files

Method 5: Delete SysWin Files

The notorious SysWin virus corrupts executables, turning them into zero-byte files and creating multiple copies. If it has infected your computer, it has likely replicated across directories, launching on startup and compromising your system.

Don't worry; you can quickly remove the SysWin virus by deleting its folder, hidden directory, and registry entries. That should restore your 0-byte files. Here's what to do:

  1. Use the Ctrl + Alt + Delete shortcut to launch Task Manager. Right-click the SysWin process in the Startup tab and click Disable. If it isn't there, your PC doesn't have this virus, so relax and try other methods.
    turn off syswin on startup
  2. Right-click SysWin in the Processes tab and select End Task.
    end the syswin process
  3. Right-click it again and click Open file location.
    open the syswin location
  4. File Explorer will launch, showing the SysWin folder. Right-click it, choose Delete, and empty the Recycle Bin. You can bypass the Recycle Bin with Shift + Delete.
    delete the syswin folder
  5. Click View, tick the Hidden items checkbox to reveal SysWin's hidden Boots directory, and remove it from your PC with Shift + Delete.
    show hidden items
  6. Since the SysWin virus has created multiple entries on your PC, launch the Registry Editor to delete them and prevent reactivation. Then, run the Find dialog box with Ctrl + F, type "syswin" into the search field, and hit Enter.
    find syswin entries in the registry editor
  7. Once the program finds all SysWin files, select them with Ctrl + A and eliminate them with Shift + Delete.
    delete all syswin files

Method 6: Run an Antivirus Scan

If your PC doesn't have the SysWin virus, it doesn't necessarily mean it's virus-free. Other malware may have infected it, causing your files to show zero bytes. Therefore, run an antivirus scan and remove potential threats.

We'll use AVG as an example, but scanning your PC and deleting quarantined files is identical in every antivirus software. Here's how it works:

  1. Launch AVG and click Run Smart Scan.
    run an antivirus scan
  2. If it informs you of a suspicious file, click More Options or Close to let it finish scanning.
    manage a suspicious file
  3. If you choose More Options, click Move to Quarantine.
    move the file to the quarantine
  4. Once you see the "Threat detected and secured" message, go to Menu > Quarantine, select the infected files, click Delete All, and confirm your choice.
    delete the file from the quarantine
  5. You can click More (the three horizontal dots) to restore the files, but we don't recommend it. You can also send them to AVG Threat Labs for analysis but don't expect a response or data recovery.
    restore the file from the quarantine

Unfortunately, your antivirus software may delete your zero-byte files if a virus has infected them. We don't recommend recovering them because you'll be back to square one with infection.

Method 7: Change File Extensions

Let's move on from all the virus talk. Hopefully, malware hasn't infected your PC. What if the problem lies in file system errors? That's often a quickly fixable issue.

Your PC's Error Checking Tool can scan for and repair file system errors. You can then change file extensions and return your 0-byte documents, images, or other items to their former glory.

Here's how to restore zero-byte files using the Error Checking Tool:

  1. Right-click the drive with 0-byte files in File Explorer and select Properties.
    view drive properties
  2. If you use Windows 8 or newer, click Check in the Tools tab.
    check for file system errors
  3. If you use Windows 7, click Check now > Automatically fix file system errors > Start.
    check for errors on windows 7
  4. If the tool doesn't find errors, click Scan Drive for a double-check.
    scan the drive
  5. Whether the initial or second scan reveals errors, click Repair Drive to eliminate them.
    repair the drive
  6. Once it fixes errors, the tool will save the repaired zero-byte files to a hidden FOUND.000 folder, giving them the .chk (Check Disk) extension. Click View to show Hidden items and Image name extensions.
    show hidden items and Image name extensions
  7. Search your drive for the FOUND.000 folder.
    find the found.000 folder
  8. Rename all the recovered files in the folder, changing their .chk extension to the original one (e.g., jpg, doc, or ppt).
    rename the zero-byte file

Method 8: Use CHKDSK

CHKDSK is the command-line counterpart of the Error Checking Tool. However, it's faster than its GUI variant because it only requires a single command to scan for and repair file system errors.

Here's how to use it to get a 0-bytes-free NTFS drive:

  1. Run the Command Prompt as an administrator.
    run the cmd as an administrator
  2. Run this command: CHKDSK H: /f /r /x . However, replace H with the corresponding drive letter, and don't worry about capitalization because the CMD isn't case-sensitive. The /f parameter will rewrite the file system directory, the /r will instruct the CMD to fix errors, and the/x will tell it to disconnect the drive for scanning and repair.
    run the chkdsk command
  3. Once the CMD finishes the process, close the program and rename the recovered .chk files in the FOUND.000 folder.


As you can see, recovering zero-byte files is a breeze. You can quickly restore them with several built-in Windows tools, antivirus software, the correct ZIP utility, or professional data recovery software like Wondershare Recoverit (the most reliable option). Of course, you can also download the files again in case of interrupted transfer.

Try Wondershare Recoverit to Perform Zero-byte File Recovery

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David Darlington
David Darlington May 17, 24
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