The cut-and-paste feature on Windows is a fantastic way to move your files from one location on your computer to another. When you cut and paste a file, it vanishes from its original location before being pasted on the destination location.
However, if the process is interrupted by a power outage, you disconnect the external drive, or you cancel the transfer process manually, the files are sometimes lost. If this has happened to you and your files have disappeared without a trace, we’ll show you how to get them back.
First, Explore Your Computer
First, you should explore your computer before trying to recover the lost data by other means. There’s a chance your file is still around; it’s just not where you’re looking right now.
To double-check, look in the following places:
1. Check the Folder You’ve Cut the Files From
Because the cut-and-paste process was abruptly halted, the remaining files may have stayed in the original folder. So, if you don’t see some files in the destination folder, you should first check the folder from where you copied them. If you can’t find them there, ensure that they aren’t hidden.
2. Make Sure the Files Aren’t Hidden
Sometimes, a hindrance in the cut-and-paste process may also hide the lost files in the same folder. This is less likely to occur, but it’s still possible. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure that files are actually lost, not just hidden.
To do so, follow these steps:
- Open File Explorer.
- Go to the folder where the lost files were.
- Navigate to the View tab and check the Hidden items box in the Show/hide section.
If you don’t find them here, try the same method but in the folder where you wanted to paste the file. If the lost files don’t appear as hidden in either location, you can try looking in the Recycle Bin.
3. Check the Recycle Bin
Files may have been deleted due to disruption in the cut-and-paste process. As such, if you cannot find the lost files in the original folder, you should check the Recycle Bin.
If you locate the files there, simply select them all, right-click, and click on Restore.
If they aren’t in the Recycle Bin, the files might have been totally erased from the computer. However, don’t fret; you can try using recovery tools to restore them.
Windows offers a couple of tools to help you recover lost files. However, they are only helpful if you had enabled them before the files were deleted or if they meet specific criteria.
Listed below are a few Windows built-in tools that may assist in recovering files:
1. Recover Files by Restoring the Previous Version
To assist you in restoring files and folders deleted or corrupted, Windows saves an old version of some files. However, you must have the previous version of the deleted file and folder available for this to work.
Follow the steps below to restore the previous version of any file:
- Navigate to the folder where you lost the files.
- Right-click on the folder and select Restore previous versions from the context menu.
- If available, select the previous folder version.
- Click Restore and again click Restore in the pop-up window.
The above steps will restore the folder to its previous version, and you will be able to see all your lost files again. However, this method won’t work if a previous version isn’t available for a specific folder.
2. Use Windows File History to Recover Lost Files
There’s a good chance you had a backup of your lost files and folders if you’ve configured the File History utility. If you do, you can quickly restore the files and folders within minutes. To recover files by using File History, follow these steps:
- Navigate to the folder where you lost your files.
- Click on History in the Open section of the Home tab.
- Navigate left and right in the File History window to select the version of the file you want to restore.
- Once you have located the file you want to recover, click on the green restore button in the center.
That’s all. As soon as you follow the above steps, your deleted files will appear in their original location. However, since this feature isn’t enabled by default, you probably haven’t enabled it if you don’t know what File History is all about. In this case, you can skip this step.
3. Restore Your Files and Folders From OneDrive Backup
You can use this method if the files you lost were on your Desktop, Documents, or Pictures folder, provided you have created a backup on OneDrive with sync enabled. Follow the steps below to restore the files lost during the cut-and-paste process:
- Log in to your OneDrive account.
- Click on the Settings (gear icon) in the top-right corner and select Options.
- In the left-sidebar, click Restore your OneDrive.
- Choose your preferred option from the Select a date dropdown.
- Slide the slider to a specific date when the files were available.
- Then click on Restore.
That’s all. By following the above steps, OneDrive will recover the files and folders deleted from the above-mentioned backed-up folders that you can later download. Likewise, if you’ve backed up the deleted files on another cloud storage service, you can also retrieve them from there.
If none of these methods work, you can move on to the next method of recovering lost files.
If nothing has worked for you yet, you should resort to the best method to recover deleted files and folders—using third-party data recovery tools.
Take a look at our guide on the best data recovery software and choose the one that best meets your needs. Data recovery won’t cost you a dime if the data you’re trying to recover isn’t massive. However, if the lost file size is enormous, you may need to purchase a premium package.
Restore Your Lost Files and Folders Once Again
You know what to do if your files get lost during the cut-and-paste process. Explore your computer and use the Windows built-in utilities to recover the lost files. When neither of these methods works, you can use third-party data recovery tools to get your files back.
If none of the ways mentioned above works to recover your lost data, and you don’t want to use a third-party program, use Windows’ file recovery tool. It’s a simple yet effective method of recovering lost data.
How to Use Windows File Recovery Tool to Restore Your Lost Data