top of page

Is robocopy the fastest way to transfer files?

The Tip of the Night for December 24, 2022 noted that using a PowerShell script to copy multiple files from multiple locations to another location will work faster than XCOPY.

There is some debate online about whether or not the robocopy command will be faster than Windows Explorer copying the contents of one directory to another folder. I decided to test Explorer, robocopy, xcopy, and PowerShell against one another to see if there was any real difference when copying a single data set to a new location.

A took a sample of1824 files in 17 folders which came to 7.13 GB, and ran commands to transfer them from an external solid state drive to the C drive of a Dell XPS laptop with 16 GB of RAM. There was little difference in the elapsed time for each method, so the thing to do is to keep it simple and use Explorer. I guess the jury is out as to whether robocopy would work faster on a network. I will try to test this soon . . .

Windows Explorer 1 minute 9 seconds

robocopy 1 minute 14 seconds

PowerShell 1 minute 14 seconds

xcopy 1 minute 14 seconds

Note that when using robocopy it's necessary to share the source folder, and run the command in the admin mode of command prompt.

When setting the location for an external hard drive used as a source, copy the network path located under Properties. The device itself should have an alphanumeric code something like H4L34V8 - the code for my drive has been redacted in these screen grabs.


bottom of page