Xcopy vs Robocopy: Comparison

Xcopy vs Robocopy Comparison

We had a client ask this question a few weeks back and we hope the below helps you!

Have you ever scratched your head over whether to use Xcopy or Robocopy for your file copying needs?

For instance, did you know that Robocopy can handle more file attributes than Xcopy and even retries when an error pops up? Meanwhile, Xcopy lacks these capabilities.

Key Takeaways

  • Xcopy is a simple command line tool for copying files, while Robocopy is a more powerful and advanced tool that can handle complex file transfers.
  • Xcopy has been included in Microsoft operating systems since 1986, making it widely accessible to users.
  • Robocopy offers more features than Xcopy, including the ability to preserve file attributes, automatic retries for failed copies, and the option to mirror directory structures.
  • When choosing between Xcopy and Robocopy, consider the complexity of your file transfer needs and whether you require advanced features such as mirroring or syncing directories.

Overview of Xcopy and its Uses

For at least 35 years, this trusty command line tool has been faithfully serving Windows users around the globe by copying files from one directory to another with relative ease and efficiency.

It doesn’t matter if you need to move a handful or heap of files; Xcopy is an essential companion ready for any file-transferring task.

Now I know what you’re thinking – comparing Xcopy to a hand saw might make it seem somewhat mundane. But don’t let its simplicity fool you – beneath this modest exterior, lies a power-packed punch.

It’s not just about moving data around; oh no, this handy little tool goes above and beyond by carrying over crucial attribute information intrinsic to each file too. This may include attributes such as ‘archive’, helping you maintain important connections between your data pieces when they’re transferred.

The beauty really lies in how effortlessly it handles these tasks.

Despite its power and versatility, Xcopy operates without causing even an iota of stress on your system performance across all versions of Windows– indeed impressive for such a lightweight software! So go ahead, give this proven stalwart its due credit and watch as it stands up admirably to every task thrown its way.

Overview of Robocopy and its Uses

Robocopy was first introduced to us as part of the Windows Resource Kit.

But people loved it so much that it’s been included with every version of Windows since Vista – now that’s an ongoing commitment for you!

What makes this tool a standout? Well, other than being able to copy both files and directories from one location to another (yawn, right?), Robocopy preserves all associated file attributes and properties – everything from timestamps and security settings, down peering into owner information.

It truly goes beyond what Xcopy brought to the table.

But here’s where Robocopy flexes its muscles: It boasts a staggering array of options for transfer operations. Unlike simpler tools like Xcopy that feel daunted by interruptions or network outages during transfers – Mr.Robust takes them in stride; if a job stumbles midway due to these issues – no fear!

Just hit ‘rerun’. No stress about duplicate or missing files on restarts.

Did I mention it can mirror directory structures easily too?

Makes our everyday backups simple as apple pie because we always need exact copies at predictable intervals.

It can even be picky! With selective copying based on attributes – imagine telling Robocopy only move those sparkly new files or modified ones instead of slogging through transferring entire directories over again – a serious lifesaver when dealing with giant datasets across networks where speed might get snail-like!

And then there’s logging functionality – optional but oh-so-helpful if you want insights into your operations—you know, should you ever want some “food for thought” on how you could maybe do things better next time around (wink!).

In short? Whether we’re doing regular file backup dance routines or tackling Herculean data migration projects under labyrinthine scenarios—Robocopy is our trusted companion. It shines in its richness of features and robustness – just what we need when dealing with the rigors of file transfers!

Key Differences Between Xcopy and Robocopy

Understanding the differences between Xcopy and Robocopy can help you choose the most suitable tool for your specific needs.

Here is a table that outlines the key differences between these two command line tools:


Feature Xcopy Robocopy
History and Introduction Xcopy has been included in every Microsoft operating system since 1986. Robocopy is a more recent tool that Microsoft introduced.
File Copying Xcopy is designed for copying multiple files or directory trees. Robocopy is designed for reliable file copying and mirroring while maintaining various file attributes.
Advanced Features Xcopy offers basic file copying features. Robocopy offers more advanced options such as multithreaded copying and automatic retry of failed copies.
Command Line Syntax and Parameters Xcopy uses a simpler command line syntax and fewer parameters. Robocopy uses a more complex command line syntax and has more parameters for advanced operations.


Choosing between Xcopy and Robocopy will depend on your specific needs and comfort level with command line tools.

Comparison of Xcopy and Robocopy in Terms of Features and Performance

Let’s delve into the distinct features and performance of Xcopy and Robocopy to give you a better idea of their capabilities and differences.


Tool Features Performance
Xcopy With Xcopy, we can copy multiple files or complete directory trees. It also supports copying over the “archive” attribute on files. Xcopy is part of most versions of Windows, making it readily accessible for most users. Performance-wise, Xcopy handles file transfers efficiently. However, when compared to Robocopy, it falls short in handling large files and directories.
Robocopy Robocopy, also known as “Robust File Copy”, is a powerful command-line utility for copying or moving files from one place to another. It supports more file attributes than Xcopy, providing more information about the files being transferred. Robocopy outperforms Xcopy in large file and directory transfers. It boasts better fault tolerance, capable of resuming failed or interrupted transfers with ease.


Both Xcopy and Robocopy have their unique features and performance capabilities, with their effectiveness depending on the size and complexity of the file transfers. Understanding these differences can help you choose the right tool for your specific needs.

Step-by-Step Guide to Using Xcopy for File Copying in Windows 10

Let’s learn how to use Xcopy for file copying in Windows 10.

  1. Open the Command Prompt by pressing the Windows key + R and typing “cmd” in the Run dialog box.
  2. In the Command Prompt window, navigate to the directory where your files are located using the “cd” command.
  3. Once you’re in the correct directory, type “xcopy” followed by the source file or folder path and then the destination path.
  4. You can specify additional options after the destination path if needed, such as “/e” to copy all files and folders including empty ones.
  5. Press Enter to start the file copying process.
  6. Xcopy will display a progress report showing how many files were copied and any errors encountered.

Step-by-Step Guide to Using Robocopy for File Transfer in Windows 10

Here is a step-by-step guide to using Robocopy for file transfer in Windows 10:

  1. Open the Command Prompt by pressing the Windows key + R, typing “cmd,” and hitting Enter.
  2. In the Command Prompt window, type “robocopy” followed by the source directory (the folder you want to copy from) and the destination directory (the folder you want to copy to). For example, if you want to copy files from “C:\Documents” to “D:\Backup,” you would type: robocopy C:\Documents D:\Backup
  3. If you want to copy subdirectories as well, add “/E” after the destination directory. For example: robocopy C:\Documents D:\Backup /E
  4. To only copy new or changed files, add “/XO” after the source and destination directories. For example: robocopy C:\Documents D:\Backup /E /XO
  5. You can also specify other options like excluding certain files or directories using “/XD” or “/XF”. For a complete list of options, type “robocopy /?” in the Command Prompt.
  6. Press Enter to start the file transfer process.
  7. The progress of the file transfer will be displayed in the Command Prompt window.

Common Copy Command Options in Xcopy and Robocopy

When using Xcopy or Robocopy for file transfer, there are several common copy command options that you can use to customize the process. These options include:

  1. /S – This option ensures that all subdirectories are copied.
  2. /E – With this option, even empty directories will be copied.
  3. /Y – By using this option, any prompts to confirm overwriting existing files will automatically be answered with “yes.”
  4. /D – This option allows you to only copy files that have been changed on the source since the last copy was made.
  5. /V – Using this option enables verification of each file’s data integrity after it has been copied.
  6. /C – With this option, copying continues even if errors occur.
  7. /H – This option copies hidden and system files along with regular files.
  8. /Z – By using this option, you can restart interrupted file transfers from where they left off instead of starting from scratch.

Examples of Using Robocopy for File Transfer

To give you an idea of how Robocopy can be used for file transfer, let’s look at some examples.

Example 1: Suppose you have a folder called “Documents” on your computer, and you want to copy all the files from this folder to another location, such as an external hard drive. You can use Robocopy with the following command:.

robocopy C:\Documents D:\Backup /E

This command will copy all the files and subdirectories from the “Documents” folder to the “Backup” folder on your external hard drive. The `/E` option ensures that all subdirectories are copied too.

Example 2: Let’s say you have a network drive where important business documents are stored. You want to make sure that any changes made in this network drive are synchronized with a backup location on another server.

To achieve this, you can use Robocopy with these options:.

robocopy \\NetworkDrive\Docs \\BackupServer\Docs /MIR /ZB /R:5 /W:15

Here, `/MIR` is used to mirror the directories, ensuring that any deleted or changed files in the source directory are also reflected in the destination directory. The `/ZB` option allows for restartable mode so that if there is an interruption during copying, it can resume from where it left off.

The `/R` and `/W` options define how many times Robocopy should retry when encountering errors and how long it should wait between retries.

These examples demonstrate some practical uses of Robocopy for file transfer tasks such as backing up important documents or synchronizing data across different locations. With its robust features and flexibility, Robocopy proves to be a powerful tool for efficient file management and organization.

Conclusion: Choosing the Right Tool for Your File Copying Needs

In conclusion, when it comes to choosing between Xcopy and Robocopy for your file copying needs, it’s important to consider the complexity of the task at hand. If you’re looking for a simple tool that can copy files quickly and easily, Xcopy is a great choice.

However, if you require more advanced features like mirroring or syncing directories while maintaining permissions and attributes, then Robocopy is the way to go. Ultimately, the right tool depends on your specific requirements and level of expertise in file transfers.


1. What is xcopy?

Xcopy is a built-in command in Microsoft Windows used for copying directory trees from one directory to another.

2. How does xcopy differ from robocopy?

Unlike xcopy, Robocopy has some options and features like recovery and auditing info which makes it more useful for large batch jobs or daily backups.

3. Is robocopy better than xcopy for file transfers?

Yes, Robocopy offers more control over file transfers for Windows users and doesn’t waste time copying unchanged files making it often used in file transfers.

4. When did Microsoft include Robocopy in windows?

Robocopy was included with Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008.

5. Can I use either Xcopy or Robocopy to copy content to the cloud?

Yes, both commands can be used to move files from one location such as your disk or NAS storage system to a different spot such as a cloud server.

6. Do I need special rights to run these programs?

To use Xcopy and RoboCopy, you may need administrator action because these are command-line directories that require specific rights set when copies happen..

7: What is the difference between Xcopy and Robocopy?

A: Xcopy and Robocopy are two different commands used for copying files in Windows. Xcopy is included in all versions of Windows, while Robocopy is available as a separate download.

8: What are the main attributes of Xcopy and Robocopy?

A: Xcopy is a simple command to copy files, while Robocopy is a robust command with more advanced features. Robocopy is often considered as a powerful alternative to Xcopy.

9: Can Xcopy and Robocopy both mirror a directory?

A: Yes, both Xcopy and Robocopy can mirror a directory. However, Robocopy is more efficient in doing so.

10: Is there any difference in the commands to copy files using Xcopy and Robocopy?

A: Yes, there are slight differences in the commands for Xcopy and Robocopy. For example, in Xcopy, the command is “xcopy source destination” whereas in Robocopy, the command is “robocopy source destination”.

11: Can Xcopy and Robocopy select specific files to be copied?

A: Yes, both Xcopy and Robocopy provide options to select specific files to be copied.

12: Which command is better for writing the copied files to a log?

A: Robocopy is better for writing the copied files to a log. It provides more options to customize the log output.

13: Which command is more useful for automating the copying process?

A: Robocopy is the most useful command for automation. It provides various options to schedule and automate the copying process.

14: Which command is more efficient in copying large files or directories?

A: Robocopy is more efficient in copying large files or directories. It is optimized for handling large data transfers.

15: Can Xcopy and Robocopy be used as alternatives to each other?

A: Yes, Xcopy and Robocopy can be used as alternatives to each other. However, Robocopy provides more advanced features and is generally considered as a better alternative.

16: What does the “mot”, “mir”, and “rh” options mean in Robocopy?

A: In Robocopy, the “mot” option stands for “monitoring source” which means it will only copy files that are newer in the source compared to the destination. The “mir” option stands for “mirror” which means it will copy the file and delete any files in the destination that are not present in the source. The “rh” option stands for “run hours” which allows you to specify the time window in which Robocopy should run.

Related: Need more ways to copy? Powershell is your answer?

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...