Copying Data with XCopy

by Barry Dysert
(last updated September 15, 2014)

XCopy is a command-line utility that comes with Windows. It offers a great deal more functionality than the familiar COPY command, but of course the additional functionality makes XCopy a bit more difficult to use than COPY. This tip provides information on some of its more interesting features so that you can begin using it with very little learning curve.

XCopy provides an easy way to copy both files and directory trees. Its basic syntax is:

C:\> XCOPY source destination [switches]

The /E switch is very useful. It is used to copy directories and subdirectories. So, for example, if you had a directory named C:\Temp\Barry which contained files and subdirectories, you could duplicate Barry's tree structure (i.e., copying all its files and subdirectories) to C:\Temp2 with this command:

C:\> XCOPY C:\Temp\Barry C:\Temp2 /E

Another useful switch is /C, which tells XCopy it should continue copying even if errors occur.

If you're not quite sure what your XCopy command is going to copy, you can simply pretend to execute it, and instead of copying anything it will tell you what it would have copied. This is accomplished by the /L switch.

The /Z switch is very good to know about, especially if you're copying large files over a network. This switch means the copy is "restartable", meaning that if it is interrupted, it can be resumed from where it got cut off instead of having to start copying all over again. While you're at it, I suggest you add the /J switch for copying large files. This switch tells XCopy to use unbuffered I/O, which makes copying of large files goes faster.

There are several other switches to XCopy, mainly having to do with whether to suppress messages or confirmations, deal with files' attributes, and excluded files. A complete list of switches can be obtained by specifying /? on the command line:

C:\> XCOPY /?

 This tip (13226) applies to Windows 7 and 8.

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

Deleting Events in Your Event Logs

You don't need to worry about event logs filling up your disk, but you still may want to clean them out eventually. This tip ...

Discover More

Using Notepad

The Notepad editor is about as old as Windows itself, yet it still has its uses even today. Here are some ideas on how to use ...

Discover More

Using the Hosts File to Block Content

Although there are better methods, you can use the Hosts file to block access to specific websites. This tip tells you how.

Discover More
More WindowsTips

What are the Limits on File Names?

It's good to know what the limits are when naming files, although in most cases the limits are sufficiently high that they ...

Discover More

Using Windows Easy Transfer

If you ever want to copy user accounts, documents, pictures, etc., from one computer to another, you'll find that Windows ...

Discover More

Displaying All the Files in a Folder using Windows Explorer

Displaying all the files a folder contains is an easy task in Windows. One easy way to do it is by using the Windows ...

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 8Mpixels. 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 5 + 0?

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.