4 Ways To Copy Files (Faster) In Windows

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file copying icon   4 Ways To Copy Files (Faster) In WindowsWindows 7’s file copy dialog is okay — but just okay. It isn’t the fastest when copying a large number of files, and it will stop the entire process if you have to deal with file conflicts or other errors. However, there are faster ways to copy files that will deal with file conflicts more intelligently.

The traditional Windows file copy dialog’s worst problem is the way it stops and waits for input when it detects a problem, preventing you from leaving the process alone to finish on its own. Luckily, Microsoft improved this with Windows 8. If you’re not using Windows 8 yet, you can get this feature on Windows 7 or even older versions of Windows.

Use Keyboard and Mouse Shortcuts

Most users are going to do most of their file-copying from within Windows Explorer. For a small file or a handful of small files, Windows Explorer’s default file-copying experience is just fine. Using TeraCopy won’t speed up the process of copying a Word document to a different folder — but these tricks will.

Keyboard shortcuts can help dramatically speed up file management operations, just as they can speed up your web browsing and other things you do on your computer. These are the important shortcuts you’ll need to know:

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  • Ctrl+C: Copy the selected files
  • Ctrl+X: Cut the selected files
  • Ctrl+V: Paste the copied or cut files in the current folder

You can also right-click on a file or group of selected files, hold the mouse button down, drag it to a different location, then release the right mouse button. This right-click drag-and-drop will open a special menu that allows you to easily choose whether you want to copy or move the files. Left-click drag-and-drop will generally just move files, not give you an option to copy them. This trick allows you to copy files with a drag and drop.

windows right click drag and drop4   4 Ways To Copy Files (Faster) In Windows

Upgrade to Windows 8

Third-party file copiers like TeraCopy, mentioned below, aren’t necessary for most people on Windows 8. Windows 8 adds a new file copy dialog to Windows Explorer — now known as File Explorer on Windows 8. Not only does this file-copy dialog copy files faster than Windows 7’s, it combines multiple file copy operations in a single window and allows you to pause individual file-copy operations. This new dialog even deals with conflicts intelligently, continuing the operation rather than pausing and waiting for your input.

Windows 8 is controversial, but the file-copy experience is one dramatically improved feature for desktop users. If you’re using Windows 8, you don’t really need to install a third-party file-copying tool.

windows 8 file copy dialog   4 Ways To Copy Files (Faster) In Windows

Install TeraCopy

But, let’s face it, you’re probably not using Windows 8. Like most Windows users, you’re probably still using Windows 7 — or even Windows XP. If you are, you don’t have to upgrade your operating system just to get a better, faster, and more robust file-copying dialog.

We recommend TeraCopy, which uses an algorithm to speed up the copying of files, allows for pausing and resuming of file transfers, and incorporates a more robust system for dealing with errors. If file conflicts occur, you can see them all and deal with them at any time during the process. TeraCopy doesn’t pause and wait for input as Windows Explorer does on Windows 7.

Best of all, TeraCopy has shell integration, so it can seamlessly integrate with Windows Explorer — whenever you copy or move files, you’ll see the TeraCopy dialog instead of the dialog integrated into Windows. If you don’t like this, you can also activate TeraCopy from the right-click menu in Windows Explorer when you need it and leave the shell integration disabled.

Note that the shell integration is off by default. To enable it, open TeraCopy, click the Menu button, select Preferences, and enable the Use TeraCopy as default file handler checkbox.

teracopy   4 Ways To Copy Files (Faster) In Windows

Use the Robocopy Command in a Batch Script

Starting with Windows Vista, Windows includes a command-line tool known as Robocopy, or “Robust File Copy.” This command should copy files faster than Windows 7’s graphical file copy dialog. If you’re an average user, you’ll probably want to stick with the graphical options — but command-line tools can be very flexible.

You can run the Robocopy command from a command prompt, but you could also write a batch script that uses the Robocopy command. This is particularly useful if you need to perform the same file-copying command over and over. Instead of clicking around in Windows Explorer, you’d just need to double-click the batch file to run it.

You could even set up your batch script to run as a scheduled task, so it could function as a sort of do-it-yourself automated backup solution.

For more information on using Robocopy, read the Robocopy documentation on Microsoft’s website — it will give you a list of the many command-line options this tool supports.

robocopy command   4 Ways To Copy Files (Faster) In Windows

This article was inspired by a question on MakeUseOf Answers. Thanks to our readers for their interesting discussion on copying files in Windows!

Have you found another file-copying utility that’s faster than TeraCopy, or do you have any other tips to share? Leave a comment below!

Image Credit: File & Folders via Shutterstock

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30 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Howard B

“Upgrade to Windows 8″ I’ll do that when the Metro interface can be turned off for good, and it has a theme that doesn’t look like crud (say, a Windows 7 theme). Until then, there’s TeraCopy.

Wepiha T

“It has a theme that doesn’t look like crud (say, a Windows 7 theme).”

Well spoken, I too think the Windows 7 theme is crud but that’s just like, my opinion, man.

I rarely see the Metro interface (start8), except for the occasional pop-in from the side when I want to connect to a wireless network – how is that different from modern operating systems like say, Android?

Which is to say a lot more convenient than a window that blocks my workflow. Metro is fine in small doses and actually useful, but there goes my opinion (again).

TeraCopy is fantastic regardless!

Howard B

The Windows 7 theme is a vast improvement over, say, the Windows 3.11 visual style; I prefer Windows 7 (black) theme to the Windows XP theme (which was an improvement over 95/98/ME), and I install Vishal Gupta’s VistaVG Black theme on new XP machines I’m going to use. (I like the window control buttons better on 7, as well as the ability to set black titlebars).

At least the window control buttons are on the correct side…I can no longer say that about Ubuntu!

Chris Hoffman

I’m still using Windows 7 myself, but I have to give Windows 8 a hat-tip for the great improvement. Underneath all the “Modern” stuff and appearance changes is the best windows desktop ever. Sad.

Reply

Esaure

Shortcut makes that faster than drag’n’drop, really? I haven’t tested.
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Whenever is possible, i use DOS in 7 or just switch to XP, even more for search, simply command is: dir with some of these switches /a /s /p /w /b /x
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For deleting files and/or folders works in realtime, deleting 1 KB file under windows, can take over a minute, guess how long takes to delete 1 GB under DOS?
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Better recommendation is upgrading to windows me, worst OS but for copy, delete, move is lots faster than vista, 7, 8, 8.1. Since vista showed up, those actions are like a pin in the butt.

Howard B

Windows 7 greatly improved file copying over Vista, and 7 has been out over FOUR YEARS now. Using a DOS (command) prompt for EVERYTHING in Windows…or “upgrading” to that trainwreck that was Windows ME…what are you, a hardcore SSH shell veteran?

Esaure

When i do a copy in windows 7 by drag&drop, 1 KB file shouldn’t be noticed, taking a minute i would not call it “greatly improved”, 1 GB file copy shouldn’t take over ten seconds to start its copy, in windows 7 takes (up to 30) minutes to “analize”. Do you think that 7 has been “greatly improved”?__________________________________________________ _ For copy of big files (from) over network, i use reget (from reget.com), it makes about 5 times faster under XP, think about win 7. __________________________________________________________ _ Win 8 have too many things that keep it away from my computers, a list would be long and i’m not hardcore nor veteran and always say “i’m noob”.

Doc

If copying a file by drag & drop takes a minute on your PC, and if something is being “analized” (lol!) for up to 30 minutes, there’s something wrong with your PC or network. As far as Windows 8, I’m avoiding it like the plague because of its ugly, flat theme and the “Metro” interface just plain sucks. I’ve been using Windows since the Windows 3.11 days, and, for the most part, Windows 7 is the best yet.

DosGuy

I still prefer the Dos 6.22 user interface, best OS ever.

Reply

Jeremy G

Alternatively, buy a replacement for Windows Explorer such as Directory Opus. Open multiple windows and/or tabs then either drag-and-drop or use the shortcut keys to quickly copy > switch view > paste.

Doc

Why buy a replacement? There are lots of free Explorer replacements out there…

Jeremy G

I tried quite a few free Explorer replacements prior to the shareware version of Directory Opus, after which I was prepared to pay for support and quality.

Reply

Jorge Saborio

Upgrade to Windows 8? Change your OS so you can copy files faster… Seriously??

Chris Hoffman

It’s an option. I wanted to show how improved file copying is on Windows 8. You really don’t need a different tool.

Reply

Muhammad A

does robocopy command work in windows 8?

Chris Hoffman

It’s present, but many people seem to report various problems with it — so I’m not sure.

Reply

julio bastos

Instead of robocopy I use the Microsoft Richcopy (kind of robocopy with graphical interface).
It is free, very fast, powerfull and works well.

Reply

Mowgli

Thank you for this information.

After coying the files is there a way to synchronize them with Teracopy or Robocopy?.
I have tried to synchronize a folder from :C to :E (pendrive) with Robocopy, without succes.

Howard B

Try putting the colons AFTER the drive letter.

Reply

Madflintsam

Q-Dir does it for me.

Reply

Joaquim Fonseca

Sometimes you can have errors related with name/path too long. I use 7zip to compress and copy, it can avoid these errors or you can choose propper comands in the referred apps to avoid so.

Reply

Vishal S

After reading it, I decided to try it out myself. I copied a 2.04 GB file containing 3 MP4 files of movies from my Movies folder to it’s parent folder (D:/) using 3 methods- 1. Normal Mouse based copy paste. 2. Keyboard shortcuts. 3. My own entry, the cygwin terminal. Time for copy was measured using a stopwatch app on my Android smartphone. For 1 and 2, the time was 1 minute and 1 second while from the cygwin terminal with cp -r command, it was 51 seconds. However, I couldn’t remove the files using Windows (as Windows gave me errors) after copy from Cygwin and had to use it again to remove it

Reply

Chris Reddy

Last year I benchmarked 14 file copy utilities (including Windows 7 File Copy) for both small and large files and found that FastCopy was hands down the best file copy utility in terms of speed, reliability, logging, repeatability, and integration. I have compiled the results if anyone is interested…

The products I tested were:
Beyond Compare
CopyHandler Pro
ExtremeCopy
FastCopy
PathSync
RichCopy
RoboCopy
SuperCopy
SyncToy
TeraCopy
ViceVersaPro
Windows Copy
Xcopy
XXcopy

dave hook

do you still have the results? could you post them please?

Reply

210cab8f86b89110173d345767daac0f

i have been using TeraCopy for two years, but it wasnt 100% reliable, then i swtched to FastCopy, which wasnt that practical, so i tried Ultra/Super Copier and kept it.

TeraCopy has nice user interface and that probably kept me using it, but it isn’t reliable as others, because when you migrate hundreds of thousands files to external drive you will put priority on reliability ;)

Reply

Bam

I was amazed at how fast Windows 8 copies files. Pulling files off my NAS jumped to 70-80MB/s from around 35MB/s on WinXP using Teracopy.

If only they’d implemented an option for queued copying like Teracopy it would have been perfect, or at the very least when pausing a file transfer in the list, have an option for the next one to automatically resume when the previous has finished.

Reply

Jonam

Windows 8 already transfers files faster than any previous versions of Windows. I never understood why replace Windows Explorer, it does exact same thing as any other alternative.

Reply

Omstavan S

When using teracopy, if you happen to copy a folder containing a lot of small files, you can clearly see that the copy speed is significantly slower as compared to windows.(only when large no. of small files)

Reply

garrydam

Nice post.Another software alternative that works is “LongPathTool” for error messages: Cannot read from source file or disk, there has been a sharing violation, cannot delete file or folder, the file name you specified is not valid or too long, the source or destination file may be in use and many other file managing errors.

Reply

Dan

For copying large files (e.g. 100GB), I’ve found that FastCopy is about 20-25% faster than teracopy. Doesn’t have some of Teracopy’s nice features (replacing explorer copy, and pausing/resuming), but it is faster.

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