From time to time I find myself needing to use the Robocopy utility to copy data and retain all of the metadata from the files I’m copying. It’s actually quite a nice utility, not only does it maintain the metadata you tell it to, it also is a way more robust and speedy way to copy large amounts of data than just using Windows copy command. It’s part of the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools.
The last time I was doing this, I was trying to get a copy of all the data from one external drive to another. (For various reasons, I couldn’t remove the drive from it’s enclosure, I just needed to copy the data off of it, leaving some important metadata intact.) Using robocopy from the command prompt, it’s a pretty easy robocopy F:\ G:\ command, but given the large number of switches that go along with the command, I like to use the Robocopy GUI utility that is available at Technet.
However, the GUI interface wouldn’t work properly with drive letters. It’s worked before for me copying from a directory, but apparently it doesn’t want to recognize the drive letter as a directory and give me anything underneath it. Oddly, I tested another utility I sometimes use for similar work, PathSync, and it didn’t recognize anything underneath F:\ either. It’s very strange.
As it turns out, it wasn’t a huge deal, I went back and figured out what switches I needed to get what I was after, and got my work done using the command line (robocopy F:\ G:\ /e /copyall /r:3, for reference check this blog post with the switches available and what they mean.)
BTW, Robocopy copied about 70GB of data from one USB drive to another in less than 2 hours, in case you don’t think it’s more robust than Windows Explorer. 😉