Files/folders missing after failed move


  • Hi everyone, I am in need of serious help. Majorly screwed up at work today. I was trying to save a file on my desktop and while doing so (at the 'save as' window), I accidentally dragged one shared folder A (the one that I mainly use for work) into another shared folder B. Of course, my natural reaction was to drag A out of B out which I did. However, halfway through the move (which took a while - strange because when I accidentally moved it the first time, it was instant but I was in the 'save as' window), there was a prompt saying something like 'file xxxxx is in use so it cannot be moved' or something along that line so I clicked something to close it - I cannot remember if there's only 1 button (Ok) or if there were 2 (Ok, Cancel). Anyway, at first I thought the whole move was cancelled because A was still in B but to my horror, I found many files and folders missing in A. May I know if the missing files and folders can be retrieved? If yes, can someone tell me how I can go about doing it? Or am I screwed? If anybody could help with something, I would be so grateful. I just started this job last month so I am feeling very bad now about losing all these files and folders. Thank you in advance!

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012 12:51 PM

All replies

  • Okay, have you checked in Folder B if the files that are missing are still in there? What you can do to quickly search through a folder to find the data is by using the commandline. Can you open a command prompt and type the following:

    dir FolderB /b /s | find "missingfileorfolder"

    This allows you to look for the missing files and folders, probably when you find one of them you find them all.

    • Proposed as answer by Mysterchr Tuesday, March 13, 2012 2:47 PM
    Wednesday, February 29, 2012 1:21 PM
  • Hi Jaap, thanks for your reply. I will see if I can try that tomorrow morning at work. I have no idea what commandline is but I hope my co-workers know.

    Oh I remembered, I was trying to see if I could access a file that's in folder A so when I tried to open it from 'Recent Documents' but I got a 'missing shortcut' message. Can't remember what the full message was.

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012 1:33 PM
  • The missing shortcut message you describe is quite logical, that is because you moved the actual files so the Recent Files link is pointing to the location before the move. So that is also a result of moving the file. If commandline is too advanced for you I would advise that you just click around until you find the missing files and folders. 

    You could also use the built-in search functionality in Windows by doing the following:

    • Hit the Windows key on your keyboard
    • Type the name of a file that is missing
    • Wait for results

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012 1:43 PM
  • Sorry for the late reply. My boss called the IT people today but they weren't very helpful - we were told the files are forever lost and cannot be retrieved. So my boss isn't pursuing the matter anymore but I still feel terrible. I did a search but I can't find the missing files. If there's any other method that I can try, please let me know. Thank you so much once again!
    Thursday, March 1, 2012 2:21 PM
  • Those two methods I told you are the best methods to use. Your best bet is running the dir command to find the files. What that does is go through all the files and folders at the location of FolderB and then the | find "missingfileorfolder" will report back if it finds the name of the file or folder. If that does not find it that means it just is not there.

    You could ask the backup team at your company to restore the backup of the folder of the date before you moved it.

    Thursday, March 1, 2012 5:45 PM
  • This sounds stupid but how do I run the dir command? Also, is there anything I have to be careful of when doing this? The last thing I want to do is the lose more files.

    A co-worker only backed up the 2011 (and earlier) folders but not the 2012... :/

    Saturday, March 3, 2012 5:25 AM
  • There is nothing dangerous about it. All it does is search, if you want to run it these are the steps you can follow:

    • Press the Windows button on your keyboard
    • Type CMD
    • Press enter
    • Type dir FolderB /b /s | find "missingfileorfolder"

    What is import that when you type in FolderB or missingfileorfolder is that for FolderB you use the full path. Example if FolderB is a shared network drive mapped to the H-drive on your computer and the file you are looking for is EndofYearReview.docx you would type the following command:

    • dir H:\FolderB /b /s | find "*endofyearreview.docx*"

    This command is completely safe to run, all it does is list files.

    Saturday, March 3, 2012 7:07 AM
  • Sorry for the late reply again. After I pressed the Windows button and typed CMD, Control Panel opened up? Am I missing something here?
    Tuesday, March 6, 2012 2:20 PM
  • Instead of the Windows button you could also press Windows button and R, to open the Run Dialog, in which you can type cmd. Then follow the steps I listed.

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012 2:38 PM
  • I will try that tomorrow, thanks!
    Tuesday, March 6, 2012 2:39 PM
  • Great let me know if you can find the files using this method.
    Tuesday, March 6, 2012 3:44 PM
  • I have been so busy I had no time to try. I have a stupid question: the symbol(?) after /s, I'm assuming it's a vertical bar? How do I insert it? I also realised I do not know the exact names of the files lost. But there's a file with a name I'm almost certain about so I am going to try to find that.
    Thursday, March 8, 2012 2:01 PM
  • You do not require the complete filename, if the file was called c:\endofyearreview2011.xls you can search for it by typing:

    dir FolderB /b /s | find "*yearreview*"

    The vertical line is above enter for me, but might depend on your keyboard. Have a look at this picture: Under backspace and above enter:

    Thursday, March 8, 2012 2:14 PM
  • Thanks, I'll try tomorrow if I have time...
    Thursday, March 8, 2012 2:29 PM
  • Hi Jaap, my keyboard doesn't have the vertical bar key.
    Tuesday, March 13, 2012 2:19 PM
  • I did something similar and moved a folder instead of copying it.  I cancelled after the second prompt to overwrite or keep both.  The folder I moved was gone and none of the files were moved to the destination folder.  How I recovered the folder and it's contents was to go to the Recycle Bin which showed neither the folder or the files but when I right clicked an "Undo Move" option was on the menu.  I clicked on it and all my files were restored.  Hope someone who is in as big of a panic as I was stumbles on this.
    • Proposed as answer by cahigg Friday, August 17, 2012 9:16 PM
    Friday, August 17, 2012 9:16 PM
  • Life saver, this keeps happening for me on Windows 10 - searching the name of the new folder made it magically become accessible again! - Thanks :)

    Saturday, September 3, 2016 5:25 PM
  • I just selected all the folders and files on my desktop and dragged them to my dropbox folder app.  When I saw that it was moving them instead of copying them, I hit the button to cancel the move.  All of my files and folders have now disappeared.  I tried opening the recycle bin and right clicking as stated above, but it did not give me the option to undo the move.  I tried "Control Z" right afterwards and nothing happened.  I checked everywhere to see if they got moved into another folder.  I ran a search in Windows and nothing came up.  That was a year's worth of my work that I've lost and I have no way to recreate most of it.  I don't even remember most of the names of the files to use the command prompt idea listed above.  Does anyone have any more ideas that I can try?  Help!
    Friday, September 16, 2016 9:36 PM
  • I encountered this problem last night as-well. I was copying a group of large files and realized i was actually moving them, pressed ESC, then ctrl-z and poof files gone forever. The files are not in the original folder nor in the new folder. They are not in the recycle bin, and several data recovery tools cannot see them either. Spent several hours of research and came up with nothing. Tried to use several data recovery tools and they only find 'deleted' files not the files that disappeared during move/cancel/undo process.  What the heck?
    If anyone has any clues I would really like to recover this data, it had not been backup-ed yet.

    Please beware and thanks for any help!

    Tuesday, March 13, 2018 9:30 PM