Robocopy: How to Copy Large Amounts of Share Data on Windows Systems

If you need to copy a large amount of data on a Windows system, be it folder to folder or volume to volume, and need to keep the security information, you should really look into using Robocopy. Robocopy is an intelligent command line data transfer tool that was an add in for Windows server 2003 and came with the Windows Resource Kit.

Kudos to Microsoft for adding this incredible tool as a standard feature in Vista and Windows 7. The wonderful thing about Robocopy is you can copy numerous shares, and with the right command line switches, it will copy share and security information. It also gives you a full report at the end.

What if people are using the shares? In a large corporate environment it is very hard to get people off of the shares so they can be moved. Usually this is done in large environments when volume space is running out and the shares need to be moved to another volume. The beauty with robocopy is you can run the copy, and it will skip files that are in use. Not good you say. But, if you are moving 40 GB of data, you can run the first pass any time. Then get everyone off of the share and re-run the copy job.

Robocopy is intelligent enough to only copy data that has changed or that was not copied in the first place! The second pass will run faster, because it will only copy the changes. Note: It is always best to copy data when not in use, data integrity could be at risk, but on large networks it can be almost impossible to get everyone off when you are ready to move the data.

Robocopy is great on a small network or even for a service center that is backing up user data. I used it when upgrading my machines to Windows 7. I copied data to a backup machine, install Windows 7 and then copied it back down. Well, I ran into a small snag. When I was copying my data back to one of my machines using regular windows copy and paste, my server was shut off by a member of my family. I had no clue where it left off as it was copying a very large amount of data. Robocopy to the rescue, I mapped a drive to the server and using the command prompt driven robocopy had my data synced in no time.

If you haven’t tried it you really should, it just might become a regular in your software toolkit. Just open a command prompt in Windows 7 and type “Robocopy /?”, this will show you how to use the tool and all of the available switches.

~ by D. Dieterle on March 16, 2010.

One Response to “Robocopy: How to Copy Large Amounts of Share Data on Windows Systems”

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