Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

We had an issue at my work where I cut and pasted some files. Immediately when I did it, a ton of files were lost. I've been working in IT for 10+ years. I know how to cut and paste a file. Well, when it went up to my managers as to why the files were lost, they said my use of cut and paste caused all the problems and asked why in the world someone as knowledgeable as me would ever cut and paste a file, and didn't I know that was totally the wrong way to move a file? They claimed,

"The correct way to move a file is to drag the file. When cutting and pasting, it moves that 1+ GB file (on the server) to the clipboard (on my PC), which, obviously, will cause problems. Dragging a file never hits the clipboard."

Be honest, I don't believe that for a minute. I believe when I cut and paste text, it goes to the clipboard. I've seen it in the old versions of windows. But when right clicking on 100+ files that equals 1+ GB, I can't believe that all that data is copied immediately out of whatever share I'm on at the server across my wireless on my laptop to my local clipboard to just go back to the server to another share. It seems they would build some logic in the server OS or my local OS (more likely my local OS) that would say when copying files, don't perform the move action until I click paste and if the files are staying local to where they were before, just move them.

So, who's right?

share|improve this question
Can you ask them for some references on their understanding of how it works? It would be good to know why they believe this regardless of what the truth is. –  uSlackr Apr 9 '12 at 14:14
Your boss claims are false. As people pointed out when you "cut and paste" a copy of the file is made into your systems memory, the original copy remains on the server, until the entire proces is sucessful. Of course I agree with your boss, you should be simply using copy and paste ( basically what drag and drop is ) instead. –  Ramhound Apr 9 '12 at 14:27

2 Answers 2

You are right

When a user cut-and-paste files using Windows Explorer, what is stored in the clipboard are not the actual file contents, but rather the file locations. When you initiate a paste, the OS is smart enough to initiate a move, or more precisely, Windows will copy a file over and then delete the original file (over a network, local drives moves by updating the pointer if it's on the same drive).

I am not too sure what other steps happened interim, but from a network and system admin point of view, we NEVER ever cut-and-paste from one network drive to another. We will copy, and then once verified the files are safely moved over, we then delete the original. Bad practice to cut-and-paste.

Hope you find those missing files, run a file recovery program on the server - it might still be there.

share|improve this answer
We ran restores. It wasn't a big deal. My boss threw it way out of proportion. But for doing copy pastes instead of cut pastes yeah, I can see that being way safer, but when I was doing these moves, I had a ton of files in a ton of folders I had to do with a very small amount of time alloted to it. I didn't have the time. That would've doubled or trippled my time for the project. –  Joe McDonald Apr 9 '12 at 11:00
Try using an advanced copy software such as Teracopy. Anyway, shit happens, we've all been through similar situations. And bosses, well overreacting is the norm. :) good luck mate. –  caliban Apr 9 '12 at 11:02
And how would it double or triple the time unless you are factoring in the check? Teracopy can immediately pause the I/O ops and tell you if a file cannot be copied. Give it a whirl next time, almost indispensable tool. –  caliban Apr 9 '12 at 11:04

Cutting files does not remove them from their original location in Windows Explorer. It'd be simply too dangerous. Just copy two files in sequence, and the first would have been removed...

From Managing Files (similar articles exist for newer Windows versions as well):

Note: When you use the CUT and PASTE commands, Windows 2000 doesn't delete the item(s) from the original location immediately. The CUT command simply places a copy of the item(s) on the clipboard. After you use the PASTE command to paste the file to the new location, the file is deleted from the old location.

That's why there's no Cut for files in OS X's file manager: it's a misnomer. It's basically Mark file for moving it later.

While it's possible that there was an issue during transfer that resulted in the removal of the data on both sides, something that's easily possible over an unreliable network, moving files by drag&drop would be just as risky.

If you want to make sure, always copy first, then verify that it worked as intended (it doesn't need to be real transfer errors, something like too long path names will break parts of the transfer as will), then delete from the source location.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.