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Battle of the File Copiers: Windows, TeraCopy, and SuperCopier

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We’ve covered two popular file copying programs for Windows: TeraCopy and SuperCopier. But how well do they really work, and do we even need them? We pit them in battle for your amusement, readers, so check out who won.

Both TeraCopy and SuperCopier are How-To Geek favorites as alternative file copiers. Both offer extra features, such as queuing files, pausing and resuming transfers, and more. Perhaps most importantly, both make the claim of boosting copying speed. We put that claim to the test against Windows 7’s copying ability.

How the Test Was Run

In order to test fairly, I ran four distinct copy actions with each program and with the default Windows 7 copy function. First, I copied a file of 4.4 GB from one external hard drive, A, to my internal one, B. Then, I copied that file to another external hard drive, C. Then, I copied a 24 GB folder (3300 files, with an average size of about 8 MB) from external A to my internal drive, B. And lastly, copied that folder from my internal drive to external C. This was done in order for each of the copying methods. The external drives were ejected and the system was rebooted between testing each program. All partitions used NTFS. The 4.4GB file I used was my Wii disc backup of Donkey Kong Country Returns. The 24 GB folder was a portion of my music collection, mostly .mp3s and some .flacs I ripped over the years.

Why did I decide to do that? Well, there are quite a few factors to this test, including hard drive speeds. All of the drives I ran this test on were 7200 RPM hard drives and had a cache of 8 MB. External A was a 2 TB internal drive in an enclosure, and external C was a 750 GB store-bought drive. Copying the files in order the same way each time discounted any advantage one program would have had over another by way of caching. A clean reboot ensured near-optimal performance for each task. I also configured TeraCopy and SuperCopier to be the default copiers, and I clocked from the time I hit Ctrl+V. This minimized the influence of pre-caching before hitting the Start button on each. I did my best for you readers, and ultimately it came down to the copying programs themselves.

Test Results

win 4gb

The default Windows 7 copier proved to be pretty snappy. Copying a single 4.4 GB file from A to B took only 3:13 and copying from B to C took 2:42. Windows 7 seems to prove itself with large files. When copying 24 GB of my music collection, the process took 18:21 from A to B, and 18:09 from B to C. As you can see, Windows 7 is no slouch.

win 24gb

The one thing that seemed pretty consistent was that as the transfer pushed forward, the rate of transfer would drop over time, ending at about 2/3 of what it initially was at. In numbers, this was roughly 26 MB/s down to about 17 MB/s.

teracopy 4gb

Testing TeraCopy yielded some interesting results. Copying the 4.4 GB file took longer than Windows did, at 3:41 from A to B and 2:53 from B to C. While copying 24 GB of smaller files, however, TeraCopy undercut Windows with 17:32 from A to B and 17:02 from B to C.

teracopy 24gb

The transfer speeds fluctuated quite a bit compared to Windows 7’s copying mechanism. The rate would drop sharply at times to half, then shoot up for a brief time only to even out a bit. It was like a roller coaster, going anywhere from as high as 31 MB/s down to 12 MB/s.

supercopier 4gb

While using SuperCopier, I immediately noticed the sustained transfer speeds. It never dipped too low, even towards the end of the longer copying process, and stayed between 22 MB/s and 18 MB/s. Copying 4.4 GB from A to B took 3:21, beating out TeraCopy for second-place. However, copying from B to C took 4:01, significantly longer than either TeraCopy or Windows.

supercopier 24gb

24 Gb of smaller files took the longest, at about 19:20 from A to B and 18:53 from B to C. I did like the steady transfer speeds, though, so this might be noteworthy if you’re paranoid about backups.

Crunching the Numbers

It seems that copying large individual files works best using Windows 7’s copying ability, at least if speed is what counts. On the other hand, when copying a large amount of smaller files, TeraCopy seems to have the edge. Our test wasn’t anywhere near scientific, but we did our best to make sure we could rule out interference while still trying to emulate some real-world use. Your mileage may vary, of course, as there are quite a few variables at play here. The numbers were all over the place, so lets take a look at why they might be the way they are.

First and foremost, since we are using mechanical drives and not solid-state storage, seek times and the like come into effect. Copying a single large file can be a simple matter or a complicated one, depending on whether the file is in contiguous area or split up and written in the gaps on a fairly full drive. The same thing applies when considering multiple-file operations. Essentially, you can consider single large files and multiple smaller files to be two separate types of copy operations depending on your hardware.

supercopier 24gb2

Another thing to look at is the fact that TeraCopy has an arguable advantage over SuperCopier in that it has 64-bit support. SuperCopier is only 32-bit. Both programs are also a little out of date – TeraCopy hasn’t had an update in a year, and SuperCopier’s last version was in 2009. So why bother using them at all?

TeraCopy has a nice list of features, which we’ve covered before. You do have to pay for a license to be able to remove individual files from your copy queue, selecting files with the same extension, and using favorite folders. On the other hand, SuperCopier is free and offers more features, like file prioritization and custom responses for overwriting or skipping files. It also has pretty good sustained speeds from our tests, which I suspect will go a long way when copying a large number of large files.

Verdict

It may seem crazy if you’re coming from XP/Vista, but our tests showed that Windows 7 is more than capable of handling large files on its own. When shooting for a larger number of files, TeraCopy ekes out ahead of Windows by a small margin. SuperCopier’s not without its advantages, however; its sustained rates and decent performance for large files makes it ideal when working with a multitude of them.

features tc

If anything, the results were mixed. If I had to pick, I’d say TeraCopy wins for day-to-day performance, since I’m usually copying more small files than single large ones. It’s got a ton of features and the performance gain is worth the € 14.95 it cost me. That’s just me, though, and you may have a definitive winner considering your use, especially looking at SuperCopier price tag (free).

The important thing really is that the biggest advantage isn’t speed, it’s features. Windows 7 can hold its own in speed, but you don’t get any of the useful queuing abilities the alternative file copiers provide. Windows 8’s copy dialog seems promising, but for now, my vote is to stick to the alternatives.


Do you have a favorite file copy alternative? Do you prefer to use Windows? What makes your copying needs make ends meet? Share your thoughts in the comments!

 

Yatri Trivedi is a monk-like geek. When he's not overdosing on meditation and geek news of all kinds, he's hacking and tweaking something, often while mumbling in 4 or 5 other languages.

  • Published 09/13/11

Comments (44)

  1. Meena Bassem

    well, i’ve noticed that you are using the pro version of teracopy, does that make any difference?
    and, windows itself might be capable of handling large files, but how will it be if it’s copying many small files? windows itself is nothing then.

  2. alzorglub

    Supercopier is better than win 7 copier, and free of charge not like teracopy
    It’s my choice.

  3. Veovis Muad'dib

    Perhaps this is just me, but it’s the ability to pause transfers, as well as resume transfers even after a system crash that keeps me on Terracopy. That, and the fact that with Terracopy, dragging file 1 from drive A to B (C:\Folder1\File 1 —> D:\Folder 3\File 1), then file 2 from drive A to B (C:\Folder 2\File 1 —> D:\Folder 3\File 2) will not start transferring file 2 until file 1 is complete. This is a HUGE workflow improvement, allowing me to work as I wish without worrying about whether or not it will slow down the transfer rates of all transfers if I drag another file over.

    Speed of transfers never entered into it, reliability was the main concern, followed by the ability to work as I want to, not as the hard drive wants me to.

    The ability to at any time change the file name conflict behavior for all files, instead of waiting for the first conflict to come up, well, that’s just icing on the cake.

  4. Veovis Muad'dib

    I should also note that I have no issues with the free version, and that’s what I’m using now.

  5. Zhaymes Bawnd

    Thanks for this – interesting information indeed.

    It would be great if you could also test and publish comparisons of the three/more in XP/Vista – some of our dinosaur IT folks still have use use XP/Vista

  6. Zippy

    Were the intermediate files deleted from B and C between tests? If not, then the arrangement of freespace on the disk could have an impact on write speed, particularly due to differences in seek times.

    Also, Robocopy is pretty nice for this type of exercise.

  7. kcotton

    I’ve been using TeraCopy lately to consolidate files from several sources into one folder. Because TeraCopy lets me set the option to only overwrite existing files if the copied file is newer made this process much faster than with Windows. If I had let Windows do the copy process, I would have to manually tell Windows how to handle each file that conflicted. When moving a lot of duplicated files, this gets to be old in a hurry.

  8. Brian

    I’m still using XP and find that using XCOPY from the command line tends to be faster than using Explorer. It would be interesting to see how it compares to SuperCopier and TeraCopy

  9. Irish_IT

    Windows 7 FTW!! :D

  10. Jim

    I probably won’t pay for TeraCopy if they aren’t going to dev it anymore. Their loss =/

  11. Exitstageleft

    I’ve been using Terracopy because it doesn’t change the modified or created timestamps for files.

  12. Chris

    I know it would have made the test very complicated and much longer, but I feel like TeraCopy offers some real advantages when copying over a network. I would be curious to see how these three fared when copying files to a different machine.

  13. Peter

    I use Terracopy to regularly copy about 185 Gigs of VHD files. Windows took 3 hours to do the job, Terracopy takes just over 2 hours.

  14. markiz

    Speed differences are minimal.
    on the other hand, a couple of TeraCopy features make it VASTLY superior:

    1) when queuing jobs, teracopy will not start job 2 until job 1 is finished, and job 3 until job 2 is done, etc..
    This is the single greatest feature for me.
    2) pause

  15. markiz

    @alzorglub
    Teracopy is also free. At least, there is a functional free version

  16. Lady Fitzgerald

    I’ve been using the free version of Teracopy for years without problems on XP.

  17. Robert

    @Veovis Muad’dib

    Same argument that I was going to make. Plus the timestamp not changing is a plus for editing photos when you have multiple versions.

  18. CraigB

    Sometime Teracopy has a memory leak or a confusion. When we use it on set to move some HUGE files the speed starts dropping till it is un-usable. Then I just scroll lock it off and use windeows.
    Minor hitch – the disable with scroll lock is VERY NB

  19. Siro

    I think its unsafe to make conclusions based on a single test, especially when the difference is certainly within a reasonable range of error by chance (3:13 vs 3:41 or 2:42 vs 2:54). The multi-file transfers are only slightly less chance-like.

    Unless I’m missing something, you only did one run for each setting. This is very vulnerable to chance results, due to random disk and cpu activity by other running processes. Especially when the test itself only takes around 3 minutes (for the single large file).

    That is a short period which could easily be skewed even by a *very short* peak of activity from another process. You could have your anti-virus, windows search indexer, or a ton of other background processes doing some random task at the same time, thereby slowing down your copy.

    The only way to minimize the effect of chance would be to repeat it a good number of times, which would statistically reduce the weight of any single random event.

    The 2nd test 28GB worth of files is slightly more representative because it takes a longer period of time, which reduces the weight of random short disturbances. Yet even then, there could be hidden bias. If your anti-virus scans mp3 and flac files, then the first copy could take significantly longer since the anti-virus is touching all the files on access, while the 2nd and 3rd time a modern anti-virus would not scan them again, because they’re “marked’ as safe in its cache.

    Beyond that, I think you’re missing a 3rd important test of copying thousands of very small files (several bytes worth), since this would show off any optimization the software makes when handling file system tables, which are a major slow-down potential.

    I personally use such a utility if only because it has better control of the copy process, and presents the ongoing process more clearly, compared to Microsoft’s default.

  20. Dan

    I use the copier built-in to my favorite file manager: Altap Salamander. It doesn’t have many features, just the ability to pause a transfer and a rudimentary way of doing sequential copying. But it’s faster than the default Win7 copier with big files and almost as fast with many smaller ones.

  21. Joydeep

    it seems all of them are at par with each other for most of it, but i like teracopy especially for the pause & resume, que copy tasks features

  22. V J

    Interesting test, thank you. However, it would have been better if the final results were displayed together in tabular form either at the beginning or the end of the article. I also would have liked to see the results on thousands of small files.

  23. KB Prez

    I’m a big fan of FastCopy. It’s FREE and very fast.

  24. Daniel Guzman

    Last month I had to copy my movies, pictures, videos and music collection from 1 external drive to another. I tried to use Windows Vista default copy, and it was so slow. Then I used Tera Copy and it fail to copy some files, and then on those files Tera Copy just get frozen. Then I was told to use Rich copy, and it worked. So fast, so perfect.

  25. Akash Shetty

    My vote is on Teracopy: the sfv check proves the files copied are reliable, the time stamp is not changed & the pause feature. I dont mind spending some extra seconds if in return i know that the files that have been moved are intact. I have been using teracopy for quite a long time I have never seen a speed drop when moving files even while I am moving files as huge as 8 – 9 gigs.

  26. Chosenken

    I have used teracopy since 1.0 and always liked it. The other day I was transferring video files from my server (4 tb raid 5) and it would do about 27 MB/s. I acidently copied a file with Windows 7, and that reached 67 MB/s. This is over a gigabit connection, Ubuntu server running samba to Windows 7. I was really confused, could it be network transfer is just to much faster with native copy?

    I would like to see the tests enhanced with a network transfer as well.

  27. jasray

    Didn’t notice mention of Rich Copy. Obsolete I suppose–nevertheless, fast and reliable.

  28. Who Reports

    The article gave points for the consistent copy speeds start to finish. Well…. how were these calculated? If you just look at what the program reports on the screen, then you are basing your kudos on whatever lie the program decides to tell you. This is so much like the old discussions of modem transmission speeds using different protocols. People used to swear by Ymodem or some other thing because it said on screen it was faster. Give me a break!

  29. Greg

    since you are testing windows itself i would love for you to redo the test with the built in version of robocopy inside of windows 7 and do multithreads

    If you are able to do this please let me know what the results are

    thanks!

  30. astral_cyborg

    Try Ultracopier, FastCopy, RoboCopy and Copy Handler with the rest. It should be interesting.

  31. Liz

    Teracopy is definitely the bees knees, however, I have a program that I too have begun using for copying, moving, mirroring and synchronising and it is called beyond compare, it offers a lot of different functions, but never hassles you, it will copy just about anything including those pesky long file names that normally bomb your whole copy and you have to start over, transfer speeds are pretty good, but I think I will run a little test on it today and see how it compares, but for general copying/moving I’m inlove with teracopy, I’m still using XP so you understand.

  32. carls

    Any of the would be find if only one could get the XP copy interface. I really miss the “do this for all files” on the replace or update. Win7 (and Vista) are simply tedious, repetitive and give marginal control that is rarely needed, imho.

    So is there any way to change the interface? Even with the copiers you rate, Win7 still gets to present its time-consuming table of choices.

    IMWTK.

  33. ib

    I use teracopy for 2 reasons. 1. If a file can’t be move/copied it skips the file unlike Windows it stops the entire process. 2. It does a CRC check on each file. Over the weekend, I moved 200 gbs of audio & video in 4 hrs.

  34. me

    I suggest you never trust Windows 7 file copier. If you are copy ing a lot of stuff, the Windows coppier skips a lot of stuff. Also, it would be better if you were using Windows 8’s enhanced copy ing system.

  35. rangerevo8

    @me

    Windows7 coppier skips what kind of stuff?

  36. duttaapd

    TeraCopy is better then windows copier but keeping that windows has by default windows copier we can say that windows copier is better than it all

  37. Royal flush

    surely the whole point of this, which has been mentioned above but i will re-itterate, is copying multiple files from multiple locations to multiple locations. Tearacopy does this one at a time, Win 7 will TRY to do all at once ( a bit here, a bit there, a bit somewhere else) which slows the time down considerably.

  38. Saurav

    I’ve been using Copy Handler since last 2 years. It’s a free tool, has resume/ pause features. Also some some more advanced features, which I have not tested till date. Do give it a try team.

  39. nvsr

    thanks good one.

  40. DrJohnny

    I haven’t tried SuperCopy, yet. I’m using TerraCopy. It’s okay and my results aren’t too different, except that when I have a very large number of small and/or large files, TerraCopy collapses with a “program has stop working” window. I’m also using the 64 bit Pro version on 64 bit Win7 Ultimate.

    My take: TerraCopy isn’t entirely stable and with some performance issues.

    When copying important files, I use BeyondCompare. It’s moderately slow, but reliable.

    Total Commander is another utility I use for copying. It’s dual window system makes copying a please. Also a tad slow, but a good time for a cup of coffee and a breath of fresh air.

  41. Dave

    In my experience Total Commander copies faster than Windows (but that was mainly XP). The real benefit is the total control over the copying process that you get in Total Commander. Queue, pausing, automatic overwrites, or skips, you name it, you can do it in this program.

    I haven’t tried other copying programs, so I can compare Total Commander against them.

    Ok, so Total Commander is not free, but it not only makes copying faster and easier, it does a lot of things. Zipping, unzipping, FTP, multiple file rename, compare folders and synchronize them, etc. And you can try it for free. (even for an unlimited time, if you don’t have money or are not fair to the author)

    A big fan of the above mentioned program…

  42. Jim

    What about the old standby xcopy I dont use windows 7. Xp does what our company needs The expense of upgrading every time Microsoft wants more money is a wast.

  43. omer

    i would recommend XYplorer – I changed over (partly) from total command to XYplorer, as you can queue the files there as well and state in advance what to do in case of same files

  44. tabarnakos

    @carls

    You can try Classic Shell for the “do this for all files” thing.
    http://classicshell.sourceforge.net/

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