How to Transfer Files With Robocopy on Windows

How to Transfer Files With Robocopy on Windows: Step-by-Step Guide

To transfer files using Robocopy on Windows, follow these steps:
  1. Open Command Prompt: Press Win + R, type cmd, and hit Enter.
  2. Navigate to the Desired Directory: Use the cd command to navigate to the directory where Robocopy is located or where you want to execute the command.
  3. Syntax for Robocopy: The basic syntax for Robocopy is as follows:
    robocopy <source> <destination> [file(s)] [options]
    • <source>: Specifies the source directory.
    • <destination>: Specifies the destination directory.
    • [file(s)]: Specifies the file(s) to be copied. You can use wildcards (*) to specify multiple files.
    • [options]: Specifies additional parameters for the copy operation.
  4. Execute the Robocopy Command: For example, if you want to copy files from C:\Source to D:\Destination, you would use the following command:robocopy C:\Source D:\Destination

    If you want to copy a specific file or files, you would specify them after the source and destination:

    robocopy C:\Source D:\Destination filename.txt
  5. Common Robocopy Options:
    • /S: Copies directories and subdirectories except empty ones.
    • /E: Copies directories and subdirectories, including empty ones.
    • /Z: Copies files in restartable mode (resumes the file transfer from where it left off).
    • /MIR: Mirrors a directory tree (deletes files in the destination that are not present in the source).
    • /R:n: Specifies the number of retries on failed copies (default is 1 million).
    • /W:n: Specifies the wait time between retries (default is 30 seconds).
  6. Example with Options: For instance, to copy all files and subdirectories from C:\Source to D:\Destination while retrying 3 times with a 5-second wait time between retries, you would use:
    robocopy C:\Source D:\Destination /S /R:3 /W:5
  7. Monitor Progress: Robocopy will display progress and status information during the file transfer.
  8. Verify Completion: Once Robocopy completes the transfer, verify that the files were copied successfully to the destination directory. Read about How to Connect Chromecast to Wi-Fi

Understanding Robocopy

What is Robocopy?

Robocopy, short for Robust File Copy, is a command-line tool built into Windows operating systems. It facilitates efficient file replication and synchronization, surpassing the capabilities of standard copy commands.

Features of Robocopy

Robocopy boasts numerous features, including multi-threaded copying, mirroring, and the ability to resume interrupted transfers. It can handle complex directory structures with ease, making it a preferred choice for system administrators and users alike.

Command Prompt
Command Prompt

Installing Robocopy

Where to find Robocopy

Robocopy comes pre-installed with most Windows versions, starting from Windows Vista onwards. It resides in the System32 directory, readily accessible from the command prompt. Discover about What is a Node in Networking

Steps for installation

If Robocopy isn’t available on your system, you can obtain it by installing the Windows Server Resource Kit or the Windows Automated Installation Kit (AIK). Once installed, Robocopy becomes accessible from any command prompt window.

Basic Usage of Robocopy

Syntax of Robocopy command

The syntax for Robocopy is straightforward, comprising the source directory, destination directory, and optional parameters. Users can specify various options such as file attributes, logging, and retry attempts to tailor the copy operation according to their requirements. Learn about Public vs Private Networks

Examples of basic file transfer

To copy files from one directory to another, users can execute a simple Robocopy command, specifying the source and destination paths. Robocopy offers robust error handling and progress monitoring during file transfers.

Advanced Usage of Robocopy

Synchronization with Robocopy

Robocopy excels in synchronizing directories, ensuring that the destination reflects the most recent changes from the source. By employing the appropriate flags, users can initiate bi-directional sync operations or mirror entire directory structures.

Handling file attributes

With Robocopy, users can preserve file attributes such as timestamps, security settings, and ownership information during the copying process. This ensures that the integrity and metadata of the transferred files remain intact.

Mirror and purge options

The mirror option in Robocopy enables users to replicate the exact structure and contents of the source directory to the destination. Additionally, the purge option allows for the removal of extraneous files and directories from the destination, keeping it synchronized with the source.

Transferring Files with Robocopy

Using Robocopy for file transfer

To transfer files using Robocopy, users can leverage its advanced capabilities to optimize the process for speed and reliability. By adjusting parameters such as buffer size and thread count, users can fine-tune the performance of Robocopy to suit their needs.

Command options for efficient transfer

Robocopy offers a plethora of command-line options for optimizing file transfers. Users can prioritize certain files, exclude specific directories, and control the bandwidth usage to ensure efficient utilization of resources during the transfer process.

Tips and Tricks

Best practices for using Robocopy

When using Robocopy, it’s advisable to conduct thorough testing in a controlled environment before executing large-scale file transfers. Regularly monitor the transfer progress and review the log files generated by Robocopy to identify any potential issues or bottlenecks.

Handling errors and interruptions

In the event of errors or interruptions during file transfers, Robocopy provides mechanisms for automatic retries and partial file copying. By leveraging these features, users can ensure the successful completion of transfer operations even in challenging conditions.


Comparing Robocopy with other tools

Advantages of Robocopy over traditional file transfer methods

Compared to conventional file transfer methods such as copy-paste or FTP, Robocopy offers several advantages, including faster transfer speeds, enhanced error handling, and support for large-scale data migration tasks.


In conclusion, Robocopy emerges as a versatile and dependable tool for transferring files on Windows systems. Its robust features, command-line flexibility, and efficient algorithms make it a preferred choice for users seeking reliable file replication and synchronization solutions.


  • What is the difference between Robocopy and regular copy-paste?
  • Robocopy offers advanced features such as multi-threaded copying, mirroring, and error handling, making it suitable for complex file transfer operations compared to regular copy-paste methods.
  • Can Robocopy transfer files between different drives?
  • Yes, Robocopy can transfer files between different drives and directories on the same system or across network shares, providing versatile file management capabilities.
  • Is Robocopy available for other operating systems?
  • Robocopy is exclusive to Windows operating systems and is not available for other platforms such as macOS or Linux.
  • How can I monitor the progress of a file transfer with Robocopy?
  • Robocopy displays real-time progress updates in the command prompt window, indicating the number of files copied, skipped, and failed during the transfer process.
  • Are there any risks associated with using Robocopy for file transfers?
  • While Robocopy is a reliable tool, users should exercise caution when performing critical file transfer operations and ensure proper testing and validation procedures are in place to mitigate potential risks.

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