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Robocopy command syntax and examples

Robocopy command is used on Windows to copy files and directories from one location to another. This CMD command also prints a detailed report of the copy operation. Below you can find examples for using Robocopy in various usecases.

Copy a directory

Example: Copy all the files in the directory D:\dir1\data to E:\backup\data. Don’t include sub directories or the files stored in those.

Robocopy  D:\dir1\data E:\backup\data

The above command copies system files and hidden files too. Copy and Xcopy commands skip these files by default.
At the end of the command execution, it would print the summary like below.

          Total    Copied   Skipped  Mismatch    FAILED    Extras
    Dirs :        22        22         0         0         0         0
   Files :       113       113         0         0         0         0
   Bytes :   42.96 m   42.96 m         0         0         0         0
   Times :   0:00:01   0:00:00                       0:00:00   0:00:00

   Speed :            83744483 Bytes/sec.
   Speed :            4791.897 MegaBytes/min.
   Ended : Wed Oct 22 22:26:14 2014

Copy directory structure

Run the below Robocopy command to copy directory structure i.e deep copy of folder hierarchy and the data in all the subfolders.

Robocopy /S D:\dir1\data E:\backup\data

This command does not copy empty directories. To copy them, you need to add /E switch.

Robocopy /S /E  D:\dir1\data E:\backup\data

Delete files and directories from the source after copying

You can add /MOV switch to delete files and /MOVE switch to delete both files and directories.

For deleting files:

Robocopy /MOV /S /E  D:\dir1\data E:\backup\data

For deleting files and directories:

Robocopy /MOVE /S /E  D:\dir1\data E:\backup\data

Modify file attributes for the copied files

Using robocopy command we can also change attributes(system, hidden, readonly) of the copied files. This affects the attributes of the files in the new location, it does not impact the files in the source directory.

For example to copy all files from one directory to another directory and also set hidden attribute for all the files you can trigger ‘Robocopy’ with the below syntax.

Robocopy /S /E  /A+:H D:\dir1\data E:\backup\data

Mirror copy a directory

Below Robocopy command creates a replica of the source folder in the specified destination folder

Robocopy /MIR sourceFolder  destinationFolder

This command also deletes any extra files that are present in the destination and are not present in source.

Replicate access permission on destination folder

The option ‘/sec’ copies all the file access permissions to the destination folder also.

 robocopy /sec sourceFolder destinationFolder

Note that Robocopy copies the security ACLs also to the destination only if the file has been modified. If the file has not been modified, the ACLs won’t be applied on the destination. You can check this Microsoft’s post robocopy file permissions for deeper understanding.

14 comments… add one
  • alex gross

    In Windows XP i could bring up two separate Windows Explorers boxes, one for the C drive & one for the D drive in my computer, or even one for the C drive & one for an external disk drive. I could then freely move entire directories from one drive to another with a single key press. How precisely do i do this in Windows 8.1, which so far permits me to bring up only one instance of “File Explorer.” I have only been using WIN 8.1 for a few hours, but the command prompt commands i have seen you suggest so far look primitive & like a throwback to DOS

    • admin

      Even in Win8, you can open multiple instances of explorer. Run ‘C:’ and ‘D:’ separately from Run, it would open C: and D: drives in two explorers. you can copy/move files with single click.

    • MLKennedy

      Alex, Primarily this is used as an administrator when you have a lot of folders/files to move and want to retain user permission settings. It would be a nightmare to have to move a bunch of files and then have to rebuild the permissions.

      You, sound like an end user, so all you need to do is open a couple of windows and drag and drop.

  • Rich

    Thanks for the article: do you know if there is a way to use robocopy to copy all the files from a folder and its sub folders into a single destination folder without any of the source sub folder structure? In other words I need the destination to find all files of a file type (PDF) and COPY them all to a single folder…

  • pradeep

    Thank You :)

  • Sankalp Shah

    Thank You so much.The information was really usefull.

  • noob

    how can i copy 2 types of files in one line of script? Eg, *.doc and *.xls

  • Jeff

    How can I copy all only/all folders in my directory that have “DONE” in the folder name?
    This is part of a backup routine and there are several hundred folders with “DONE” in the name, these are the only ones I want to copy including all the sub folders and files?

    Best Regards,

  • Frank.l

    I have windows 10 home edition. I used the copy command as described but I got an error message “access denied”.

    I have been trying repeatedly to use normal copy command but as soon as I push enter the folder disappears.

  • Perry

    Will the SID be affected by using ROBOCOPY to restore a server after its been renamed?

  • Amar Kumbhar

    Thanks, very useful to understand robocopy !

  • Sudeeesh Kamath

    Thanks, very useful CMD utility.

  • asic

    does robcopy copies: path_1\name_1 to: path_2\name_2
    with either path_1 or path_2 or both are longer than 255 char ?

    Presumably robcopy syntax requests path\name?
    (can i omit the path if, say, i copy from current directory to current directory?)

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