Understanding Robocopy

by Barry Dysert
(last updated September 25, 2017)

Robocopy (a made-up program name meaning Robust File Copy) is a command-line utility that comes with Windows. When you're doing a lot of file management, you need something more powerful than what is provided through Windows Explorer or File Explorer. Robocopy is one alternative. It does require some typing instead of clicking, but its increased set of functionality more than offsets any inconvenience this may cause.

One of the first things you should know is that Robocopy is designed to work with directories more so than with individual files (although it can still deal with both). Another thing to be aware of is the multitude of options (or switches) that can be used to augment Robocopy's behavior.

The basic syntax for a Robocopy command is:

Robocopy source destination [file [file]...] [options]

Since it was designed to deal with directories, both the source and destination parameters are specified as "drive:\path" or "\\server\share\path". The file parameters are literal file names, and you can use the "?" and "*" wildcards if needed. The optional options parameter consists of switches that you can specify to augment Robocopy's behavior. For example, if you want Robocopy to execute in restartable mode you would specify the /Z switch.

The power of Robocopy lies in knowing the options and how to use them. See other Tips on Robocopy for some examples of specific actions that are common among Robocopy users. To see what all options are available and what they do, type "Robocopy /?" at a command prompt, and begin to experiment.

 This tip (13186) applies to Windows 7, 8, and 10.

Author Bio

Barry Dysert

Barry has been a computer professional for over 30 years, working in different positions such as technical team leader, project manager, and software developer.  He is currently a senior software engineer with an emphasis on developing custom applications under Microsoft Windows. ...

MORE FROM BARRY

Scanning Your System for Open Ports

For security reasons, you may want to scan your system for open ports. This tip explains a bit about ports and how to see ...

Discover More

Changing Media Player Skins

Windows Media Player is a popular application used for audio applications. It can be customized to use different skins by ...

Discover More

Using Robocopy with File Sizes and Ages

Robocopy is a robust file copy utility built into Windows. The various switches built into the program provide very powerful ...

Discover More
More WindowsTips

How to Change Drive Letters

Windows is quite configurable. It even allows you to change the drive letters associated with your disk drives. Although the ...

Discover More

Understanding File Types and Extensions

File types (or extensions) are key to using Windows effectively. When you double-click a file in Windows Explorer or File ...

Discover More

Creating and Using Compressed Folders

If you're low on disk space but still want to keep your files online, you might consider moving them to compressed folders. ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 8 + 8?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WindowsTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.