How to Retrieve Cut Files

By Catlin Tidwell

It's easy to use the Windows "cut" function to move a file, but easy functions can also be easy to overuse or misuse. If you don't paste your cut file before you turn off your computer, or if you cut another file before you paste the previous one, your cut file disappears from the system clipboard. In most cases you can recover your cut file, though it might take time and money.

Step 1

Check the Windows clipboard. It's possible your file is still in the system clipboard, waiting for you to take it out. The Windows clipboard is a built-in function that acts as a scratch pad, storing data that you cut or copy from a folder or program. Check whether your file is in the clipboard by right-clicking on an empty bit of your Windows desktop. A small menu will appear. If the word "Paste" is visible in black text, try clicking it.

Step 2

Retrieve your cut file using data recovery software. If the file was not in your system clipboard, it has been deleted and you will only be able to restore it if a data recovery program can locate and undelete the file. Several software choices are available (see Resources).You should try to recover the file with a data recovery program as soon as possible. The longer you wait, the greater the chance the operating system has re-used the portion of the hard drive the file existed in. Once that portion of the hard drive has been reused, you will not be able to recover your file.

Step 3

Select a data recovery program from an online vendor that offers a free initial download (see Resources). Use the downloaded software to search your hard drive for your lost file. If you can find your cut file you will need to pay for an activation code to actually recover the files.

Step 4

Consider replacing the system clipboard with a custom clipboard application. Many online and local stores offer software to replace or enhance your Windows clipboard so it can save multiple items. This reduces or removes the danger of cut items being deleted before they are pasted.