How to recover files lost after cutting and pasting in Windows


Have you lost files while transferring on Windows? For example, have you encountered a problem when using a USB flash drive to store important work files when you cut and paste some critical data from your Windows 10 computer to the USB flash drive? If you notice this data loss, you will wonder if there is a way to recover the cut and pasted files?

recover files lost after cutting and pasting in Windows

Reasons for losing files after cutting and pasting in Windows

When the File is not found in both the original and target folders, the storage space allocated to the File will still be occupied by the File itself. We can start from this point to recover the lost File before we start; you may want to briefly understand the difference between cut and Copy, the most significant difference between them. While the cut is to delete the selected File from its original location, and the Copy is to move a copy of the file chosen to the target location, there are several common reasons for file loss in cut and paste:

  • An unexpected shutdown interrupts the file transfer process.
  • The volume was not removed properly.
  • Hardware failure in storage equipment.
  • The File has been deleted.
  • The storage device has been formatted.
  • Accidental loss of storage equipment.
  • Incomplete cutting and pasting process.
  • Virus attack.

Ways to recover files lost after cutting and pasting on Windows

Before you begin, checking if the lost files will reappear in the Temp folder is essential. To prevent the files in the Temp folder, you need to use Ctrl + Z to try to undo the broken files or use Win + V to view your scrapbook history, or Alternatively, you can use Win + R to open the search bar, type: %temp% and press OK. 

If the lost files appear in their original location, you can try the following recovery methods; most of them are free tools built into Windows 10; let's find out About them one by one:

Method 1: Scan hidden files

When you sometimes use cut-and-paste to move files, they are hidden automatically, making you think they were lost. Therefore, you can first try to make these hidden files visible, which will help in recovering the cut and pasted files in Windows 10:

  1. Use Win + R to open the search bar, type control, and hit Enter.
  2. In the Control Panel window, select Appearance and Personalization.
  3. Next, click the File Explorer option and go to the "View" tab at the top of the new window.
  4. Select Show hidden files, folders, and drives in the window, and click the OK button.

Now, go back to the original location of the lost File, and view if the File has been recovered.

Method 2: Restore the previous System to get the lost files

As long as you created a system restore point or file history, you can use the backup to restore the previous version, and this method can also help you convert files after cutting and pasting:

  1. Use Win + E to open File Explorer and find the original folder of the lost File.
  2. Right-click on it and select Content in the expanded list.
  3. Switch to the previous version at the top of the content window, select the appropriate version according to the point in time, and click the Restore button.

Note: You can view the version if you are unsure if the restored version contains the files you need; you can also restore the previous version's folders to another location.

Method 3: Restore cut and paste files via File History

File History is not dependent on a Windows backup or System restore point, and there is no limit to its operation.

Note: This method is only available for Windows 10 and later and requires the feature to be turned on before the File is lost.

  • Use Win + S to open the search bar, enter the file history, and hit Enter.
  • In the search box in the upper right corner of the File History window, enter the lost File name, or click the Forward and Back buttons to browse for folders and files at different points in time.
  • Select the File you want to restore and click the green Restore button directly below to restore the lost File to its original location, or alternatively, you can right-click on the Restore button and select the Restore to option to convert the file chosen to another place.

Method 4: Restore files by system restore point

If you are fortunate that you created a system restore point before you lost the cut-and-paste file, you can restore the files via the System restore function.

 Note: Windows will fully return to the state you restored to it, so please back up your newly created files if needed.

  • Go to Control Panel > System and Security > right-click System and select Open.
  • Switch to System Protection and then click on System Restore.
  • In the System Restore window, click Next.
  • Select the restore point according to the date and time, then click Next.
  • Finally, follow the on-screen instructions to complete the recovery process to get your lost files back.

Method 5: Restore files from the cloud drive

If you have used OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc., and stored your lost files on them, you can directly use the copy and paste feature to restore your files after cutting and pasting; we will take OneDrive as an example to implement the method:

  • Click on the Start button, search for OneDrive, and click on it in the list.
  • In the OneDrive-Personal window, find the missing File, right-click, and select Copy. "You can also use Ctrl + C."
  • Then use Win + E to open File Explorer, select the original location of the missing File or another site, right-click on the empty area, and select Paste "You can also use Ctrl + V."

Method 6: Restore files via Command Prompt

Another way to recover files is by scanning the hard disk and then recovering files. This method is suitable for recovering files lost due to viruses or other similar reasons:

  1. Use Win + S to open the search bar, type cmd, and select Run as a system administrator.
  2. In the Command Prompt window, type: chkdsk C: /f, press Enter, and then press Y and Enter to proceed with the recovery process. Note: You can change C to the drive number where the missing File is located.
  3. Type: attrib -h -r -s / s / d E: \ *. *, and press Enter.

Method 7: Recover files with Windows File Recovery. Windows File Recovery

It is an official file recovery tool from Microsoft, which is basically a command-line utility that helps you recover lost files; please note that this method is a bit complicated for regular users:

  • Click the Start button, search for Microsoft Store, and click on it.
  • Type Windows File Recovery in the search box at the top and click Get to download the application.
  • Run Windows File Recovery, type: info/!, and press Enter to display the complete list of commands.
  • For example, if you want to recover a jpg image file.
  • From local disk C: to local disk D: RecoveryDestination folder, you can type: info C: D: \ RecoveryDestination / r / n * .jpg, and press Enter.