Robocopy or Robust File Copy is a file and directory copying tool on Windows. It can copy files locally and over the network. To use it, you need to fire up your command prompt and type commands for carrying out copying and moving jobs.
However, many of us like a point-and-click approach. To make Robocopy user-friendly, there are many Robocopy GUI (Graphical User Interface) tools available that don’t require you to remember and type Robocopy scripts on a boring, black command prompt screen.
This Robocopy guide will help you on how to use Robocopy on command prompt and also list the best free Robocopy GUI tools that make the copying process much easier.
What is the Robocopy Copy Command?
Robocopy is a command-line tool for copying/moving files over the network and on the same computer. Microsoft kept it as a third-party tool till Windows XP. However, from Windows Vista, Robocopy became a Windows feature.
Some would ask: Who needs a specialized copying command or tool when you have the traditional copy-paste tool available on Windows?
The general copying option on Windows is good enough for small jobs like copying a file from one folder to another or from one computer to another, but it lacks the advanced options you need to take full control of the copying/moving tasks.
- With Robocopy you can copy files over a network without worrying about network disruptions because it can automatically resume from the same file when the connection establishes again.
- Robocopy lets you copy the attributes of the files and folders like date and time stamps, security information (permissions, auditing, owners), and others.
- It can update folders in the destination folder from the source folder by skipping the already copied files and updating only those that are modified.
- It also lets you use multithreading where it transfers multiple files at the same time for speeding up the copying job.
How To Use Robocopy on Command Prompt?
To use it on your Windows 7, 8, 10, and 11 computer, open command prompt, and use the below Robocopy syntax:
robocopy <source> <destination> [<file>[ ...]] [<options>]
<source> is the source folder
<destination> the destination folder
<file> is to specify which file or files will be copied
<options> is for including any Robocopy options such as copy, logging, file, job, and retry.
To help you understand what a typical Robocopy script looks like, let’s run a robocopy command for copying a file ‘FB31.txt’ from ‘C:\Social Media’ to a share folder on the network ‘\\Marketing\FB\’ with multi-threading ‘/MT’ and copy all the file information ‘/copyall’ switches.
robocopy c:\social media '\\marketing\fb' FB31.txt /mt /copyall
Robocopy is loaded with options and switches to copy/move files as you want. A few popular Robocopy switches are listed below:
|\S||Copy subfolders excluding empty ones|
|\E||Copy subfolders including empty folders|
|\B||Copy files in backup mode|
|\COPY:[DATSOU]||Copy the attributes of the file including date and time stamp and security information|
|\COPYALL||Copy all file information|
|\NOCOPY||Don’t copy any file information|
|\MIR||Mirror a folder and its subfolders|
|\MOV||Move files and then delete them from the source folder|
|\MOVE||Move files and folders and delete them from the source|
|\MT [n]||Perform multithreading. The number of threads to run should be specified in place of [n]. For example: \MT . If it’s not mentioned, the default value of 8 is used. You can use from 1 to 128.|
To find the full list of options and switches, perform these steps:
- Click Start, type cmd, and click ‘Run as administrator’.
- Go to Robocopy help by typing robocopy /? and view the Robocopy switches list.
You can find more Robocopy examples on Microsoft’s site.
Free Robocopy GUI Tools and Alternatives for Windows 7, 8, 10, and 11
- Microsoft Robocopy GUI
- Easy Copy (ChoEasyCopy)
- Microsoft RichCopy
1. Microsoft Robocopy GUI
Robocopy GUI is a free, lightweight tool that performs functions identical to the Robocopy command-line with an easy-to-use interface. You can perform Robocopy GUI download from Microsoft. The actual download link from Microsoft gives the 404 error. This link is through the Way Back Machine.
Download .NET Framework 2.0.x for Robocopy GUI
Robocopy GUI doesn’t run without the .NET Framework 2.0.5. You can easily install it from the Control Panel. Follow these steps:
- Click Start, type ‘Control Panel’, and click the app.
- Click the drop-down menu next to ‘View by’ and select ‘Large icons’.
- Select ‘Program and Features’ from the list of Control Panel items.
- From the side panel, choose ‘Turn Windows features on or off’.
- Click the box next to ‘.NET Framework 3.5’ and click OK.
- It may ask you to let it download the program.
- Restart your computer.
Using Robocopy GUI
- After the installation of Robocopy GUI, run it by clicking Start, typing ‘Robocopy GUI’, and clicking the app.
- Enter the Source and Destination paths. You can select them by clicking the three dots buttons next to each one of them.
- By going to the ‘Copy Options’ tab, select the Robocopy switches you want to use for the copying process. Hover your mouse cursor over any switch to read its function.
- Perform the same for ‘Drive Mapping’, ‘Filters’, ‘Logging’, and ‘Monitoring Options’.
- When done, click ‘Run’ to start the process.
- To learn more about Robocopy GUI, click ‘Help’ from the menu bar and select ‘Robocopy Users Guide’.
A downside to Robocopy GUI is that it’s a very old tool. If you need programs that are recent, follow other options on the list.
2. Easy Copy (ChoEasyCopy)
Cho EasyCopy is a free open-source tool that you can use as Robocopy GUI. Its design is better than most on the list and the options are shown with their full function. You don’t need to hover your mouse cursor over each option to learn what it does.
Moreover, it runs on the newer .NET Framework so you don’t have to download older versions of .NET Framework for it. Download Easy Copy from GitHub release.
RoborMirror works on .Net Framework 4.0+ and provides a simple interface for carrying out file/folder mirroring tasks. You can click ‘Add task’ to select the source and destination paths for mirroring. Select the options you want to use and click OK. You can download RoboMirror from SourceForge.
A disadvantage of using RoboMirror is that it doesn’t show all the Robocopy switches. You have to manually enter the switches.
Another useful Robocopy GUI software is WinRoboCopy. Its interface looks a bit messy, but upon spending a few minutes, you’ll find it very convenient and robust.
Create multiple jobs for mirroring by selecting the source and destination paths and selecting options. It shows the list of switches and if you want to see their details, click the ‘+’ button. You can export a job as a cmd file on it as well. Download WinRoboCopy from its official site.
5. Microsoft RichCopy
This is the successor of Robocopy GUI and it was developed a few years after Robocopy GUI. It’s richer in features than its predecessor but it has tough competition from Easy Copy and WinRoboCopy.
However, we like its simple interface and it’s more user-friendly than the mentioned options. You can start the copying process by choosing the source and destination.
For advanced options, click ‘Options’ to find a bunch of switches for more control over the process.
You can perform RichCopy download from Way Back Machine. If the link is expired, search on Google ‘download Richcopy’.
Robocopy vs XCopy for Copying Files
Before Robocopy, Microsoft provided XCopy for copying/moving files over the network. As Robocopy is an improvement of XCopy, and Microsoft keeps updating it, it’s the better of the two.
How is it better? Because the Robocopy command-line has many features that XCopy doesn’t have.
- Robocopy uses mirroring while XCopy doesn’t. This enables Robocopy to sync/update files without copying all the files every time.
- Robocopy has automation settings whereas XCopy doesn’t have them. With automation, you can schedule the copying process.
- You can also find monitoring support for Robocopy. This means, if the monitoring command is used, it will monitor files for changes and update them when they are changed. XCopy lacks this feature.
Robocopy is a powerful tool that enables you to copy or move files over the network. You can use the command prompt on Windows to run its command or download a Robocopy GUI to perform the function with a few clicks.