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Can Data Recovery Programs Recover MOVED Files?

ccorino1 used Ask the Experts™
Hi All,

I recently moved files from ComputerA to ComputerB.  I did this by cutting and pasting to an external hard drive.
I see there are a lot of Data Recovery programs out there, but I don't know if they have the capability to recover a "moved" document the same as a "deleted" document.  I also don't know if Windows treats moving/deleting the same.

Any ideas?
Thank you!
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Moving a document is treated in Windows as two processes; copy then delete. Technically there is no so called "move" operation within the core of the operating system.  So to answer your question, Yes, any program that performs data recovery, such as an undelete program can recover your original files, provided that you did not perform anything drastic on the drive like a defrag.

Basically, when a file is moved or deleted, only the the file name is changed in the FAT. The data still resides on the drive, but its location is now free to be overwritten. As long as you didn't write to the drive, or make changes, all the data will still be there.  If you did write to the drive, then any files that got overwritten will be unrecoverable.  NOTE: there are some specialized companies that can recover even overwritten files, but it's very expensive.
Gary CaseRetired
Most Valuable Expert 2013
Top Expert 2009
"Moving" is exactly the same as copying and then deleting.    Whether or not the files are recoverable depends -- as always -- on whether the sectors that contained the file(s) have been written over yet.

If you need to try this, remember the #1 rule of data recovery:  STOP    
Do NOT do ANYTHING that will cause write activity on the disk -- don't boot to it;  don't save anything to it;  etc.     If it's your boot drive; remove it from the system;  attach it to another system; and run your recovery program from the other system.
Just as others described above, since you are moving file from one computer to another, the original file on the first computer is just deleted and you can use any undelete tools online to recover it.

FOr example,

Advanced NTSF Undelete at http://www.datanumen.com/anu/