How to Recover Files Lost During Cut and Paste on Windows

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Recover cut filesCut, copy and paste are basic but essential functions when it comes to file management. Without these simple commands, moving files from one place to another would be a lot different.

If you cut a file and your computer crashes before you can paste it in a new location, there’s a chance that the file was lost. Don’t worry, there are ways you can get that file back. Below we’re going to cover a few ways you can recover cut files on your Windows computer.

What Does Cut Do in Windows?

Cut is a command used to move data from one location on your computer to another. Rather than creating a copy, the cut command actually removes the data from its original location and temporarily stores it in the clipboard. The data is then moved to a permanent location when the paste command is used.

If your computer shuts down unexpectedly after you cut something, it will be lost due to the temporary nature of the clipboard. Unless you’re using a clipboard manager that retains cut files, the files will need to be restored from a backup or through the use of data recovery software.

What Is the Difference Between Cut and Delete?

Cutting a file.

When you cut a file, it’s temporarily moved to the clipboard until you use the paste command to move it to a new location. However, when you delete a file, it either goes to the Recycle Bin or it’s immediately deleted from the system. Once deleted, it will no longer appear in the folder it once was. In terms of function, there’s no way to compare cut vs delete, as each serve a different purpose.

How to Recover Cut Files from Computer

Now that you’re informed on how the cut command functions, let’s take a look at how to recover files lost during cut and paste.

Method 1: Restore Cut Files with Data Recovery Software

When you delete a file, the data that made up that file still resides on the drive for a time. The physical location where that data resides is marked as available to the operating system. This means that new data can be saved to that location, overwriting what was there before.

If new data hasn’t overwritten your deleted file, this is our chance to recover cut and paste files. This software is designed to restore deleted data before it’s lost permanently. We recommend Disk Drill because it has powerful recovery capabilities, an easy to use interface, and it has a proven track record of successful recoveries.

In the below test, I lost two images during a cut and paste operation. I’m going to use Disk Drill to recover them. Here’s how to recover cut files from computer:

  1. Download and install Disk Drill. Once installed, open it.
  2. Select the drive where the file was stored before deletion. Click Search for lost data. This will begin the scanning process to discover recoverable files.Search for lost data.
  3. When the scan has finished, you can click Review found items to review what Disk Drill has found.Review the recoverable files.
  4. Select the files you want to recover by ticking their checkbox. When ready, click Recover.Confirm the files you want to recover.
  5. On the next screen, specify the location you want the files recovered to. Finally, click OK.Choose what folder to recover files to.
  6. When complete, Disk Drill will present you with a completion screen.Final confirmation screen.

Method 2: Recover Cut Files Using File History

Windows includes a way to recover deleted or previous file versions using File History. For files that can’t be recovered from the Recycle Bin, File History is the next best thing when it comes to native recovery options. File History creates regular backups of specified files so you can restore them if they’re lost.

In order to use File History, you need a separate drive that can be used for backups. This could be an external drive like a USB, or it can be a second internal drive. Alternatively, you can use a network storage location if you’re using network-attached storage. Once configured, it will periodically back up the specified folders in the background.

File History isn’t enabled by default. If File History wasn’t configured before the file was deleted, this option will not work for you.

  1. Navigate to the folder that you cut the file from.
  2. Click on the Home tab at the top of Windows Explorer, then select History.Opening File History.
  3. Use the left and right navigation buttons to see the various versions of your file. When ready, select the version you want to restore and click the green restore button with an encircling arrow.Choosing what document to recover.
  4. Once restored, the file will be in its original location.The recovered file.



Losing a file in any instance is frustrating and always happens at the most inopportune times. Thankfully, using the methods outlined in this article, you can recover your lost cut and paste files in a few clicks of your mouse.