How to Recover Files Lost During Cut and Paste on PC

7 min read


Reading Time: 7 minutesCutting and pasting files are probably two of the most commonly used computer actions that pretty much every user performs, whether it’s for work or personal use. You could be using them to organize your drives, create backups, migrate data, and more.

What you may not know is that abruptly interrupting this process could lead to you losing your important files. For those who’ve experienced this, we’re going to teach you how to recover cut files from PCs through various methods.

What is the Cut And Paste Process?

Often mistaken for the “copy and paste” process, cutting and pasting is used to move files, folders, images, text, and other pieces of information from one location to another. Cutting involves removing data from its current location and placing it onto the computer’s clipboard. Pasting takes whatever contents are currently on the clipboard and moves them to the destination you’ve chosen.

How to Recover Files Lost During Cut and Paste

There are various different methods you can use to recover files from your computer that were lost as a result of the cut and paste process. However, some of these techniques only work in specific scenarios. If your file was cut but not pasted, you can simply hit the Esc key to cancel the process.

Method 1: CTRL + Z Command

Ctrl + Z, also known as the “Undo” command, is the easiest method on this list and is probably the one you should try first. What it does is undo the previous actions taken, although it only works to a certain extent.

It won’t work if you’ve taken another action since the copy and paste. It’s also not viable if you’ve shut down or restarted your PC, and it usually won’t help if the cut and paste process was suddenly interrupted and the files were lost. Using this command is as simple as holding down “Control” and hitting the “Z” key.

Method 2: Check Your Clipboard

Windows 10 introduced a Clipboard History feature that allows you to backtrack your 25 most recent cuts or copies, though it’s limited to mostly just text and image snippets that are smaller than 4MB. Keep in mind that this feature must have been enabled before the cut and paste occurred if you want it to recover the information. Here’s how to use the clipboard to recover data:

  1. Place your cursor at the location you want to paste your text or image into. This could be a Google Doc, Microsoft Word file, Notepad, MS Paint, etc.
    google docs
  2. Press the Windows + V buttons to bring up the Windows Clipboard. Find the text or image you want to recover and left-click it.
  3. This will paste the item into your location of choice.
    google docs paste

Note: If you want an item to remain even after you shut down or restart your PC, click the three dots on the right of the item and select the Pin option.

Method 3: Data Recovery Software

If you’re looking to rescue entire files or folders, then your best bet is to go with a quality data recovery program. Disk Drill is a particularly impressive piece of recovery software that offers an accessible interface, exceptional recovery rates, and loads of extra features. Plus, it comes in a trial version that lets you test out all of the program’s features but with a recovery limit of 500 MB. Follow these steps to use Disk Drill to get your lost files back:

  1. Go to the Cleverfiles official website and download the Disk Drill installation file.
    disk drill download
  2. Run the file and follow the instructions provided until you properly install the program.
    launch disk drill
  3. Launch Disk Drill and select the drive where the files were last located before being lost through cutting and pasting. Click the Search for lost data button when you’re ready.
    search for lost data
  4. The program will now initiate the scanning process. This could take a while, depending on how large your storage medium is. You can click the Review found items button at the top-left corner at any time if you’d like to browse through the recoverable files that Disk Drill has found so far. You could also opt to wait for the scanning process to complete and click the same button afterward.
    disk drill scan
  5. Once you’re on the results page, you’ll want to look for your files under the Found files header dropdown. Just navigate to the folder or location they were last in. If you can recall the file or folder name, you can type it into the search bar on the top-right corner of the window to make your search easier. When you find your files, mark them by ticking the checkboxes next to the file names, and then click the Recover button to continue.
    disk drill files
  6. A small pop-up will appear, asking you to decide on a location where the recovered files should be stored. Bear in mind that this has to be on a different drive than the one you’re attempting to recover files from. If you choose the same drive, you’ll be greeted with an error. Hit the OK button to proceed.
    disk drill recover files
  7. Disk Drill will now begin recovering your files. On the completion screen, you’ll see a button labeled Show recovered data in Explorer. If you want to head straight to your recovered files, simply click this button.
    disk drill completed

Method 4: File History

File History is an incredibly useful tool that was introduced alongside Windows 8. It’s essentially a backup feature that lets you recover specific versions of files from particular dates. It can also be used to recover overwritten Files in Windows.

However, to use this feature, you would need to have it enabled before the data loss occurred. Furthermore, it only works with select folders, and it requires a second drive to function. Here are the instructions on how to use File History to get back lost files:

  1. Type “control panel” into the search bar embedded into your taskbar. Choose the top result.
    file history control panel
  2. Once you’re on the control panel window, click System and Security.
    system security
  3. On the next screen, head to File History.
    file history
  4. Click the Restore personal files link on the left side of the window.
    file history recover
  5. A pop-up window will appear. Navigate to the location where your lost files or folders are located and highlight the data you want to retrieve. When you’re ready, click the green rounded arrow icon along the bottom side of the window. This will restore the files to the location where you found them in File History.
    select file

Method 5: Cloud Backup (Onedrive)

Onedrive is a file hosting service that was introduced by Microsoft back in 2007. It’s an excellent way to share files with other users, but it’s also commonly used to create file backups. If your lost files were previously backed up on Onedrive, you can use the service to restore cut files in Windows 10. Here’s how you can accomplish this:

  1. Type “onedrive” into the search bar embedded into your taskbar. Choose the top result.
    one drive
  2. An Explorer window should appear with the contents of your backed-up Onedrive files. Navigate to the folder where your lost files are located, then copy and paste them to your desired destination folder.
    onedrive copy

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):