Robocopy, or “Robust File Copy,” is a command line directory replication tool from Microsoft. It is available as part of Windows 7 and Vista as a standard feature, and was available as part of the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit.

NOTE: For Windows XP, you can obtain Robocopy by downloading the resource kit.

Robocopy allows you to setup simple or advanced backup strategies. It provides such features as multi-threaded copying, mirroring or synchronization mode, automatic retry, and the ability to resume the copying process. If you are comfortable with using command line tools, you can run Robocopy directly on the command line using the command syntax and options. You can also download the command line reference and usage notes for Robocopy as a PDF file.

If you are more comfortable using a graphical user interface, or GUI, rather than the command line, there are a couple of options for adding a GUI to the Robocopy command line tool, making it easier to use. Both tools, RoboMirror and RichCopy, are discussed below and links to download each tool are provided.


RoboMirror provides a nice, clean GUI allowing you to define backup tasks you can run directly or schedule to be run at a later time. You can also easily restore a backup.

Select the source and target folders and specify which extended NTFS attributes to copy, if any. You can also choose to delete files and folders in the target folder that do not exist in the source folder. This gives you an exact copy of the source folder.

RoboMirror also allows you to create a volume shadow copy of the source volume during backup. This allows you to backup files that are locked by running processes.

NOTE: The volume shadow copy feature is only available in Windows Vista and later.

If there are files or subfolders in the source folder that you don’t want to backup, you can exclude these items. You can also exclude files based on their attributes.

RoboMirror allows you to schedule backups to run daily, weekly, or monthly.

When you perform a backup, the pending changes are displayed before the backup process begins. This allows you to abort the process and make changes to the settings for the task, if needed.

You can also view a history of the backups performed for each task in your list.


RichCopy is a GUI for Robocopy written by a Microsoft engineer. It turns Robocopy into a more powerful, faster, and stable file copying tool than other similar tools. You can have several profiles containing different settings for different backup tasks and you can copy files from multiple, different locations to a single destination.

Easily select multiple folders to be backed up from different locations.

Set many different options for each backup profile separately, specifying items such as the default source and destination directories, the number of threads to use while searching directories and copying files and directories, and a timer for schedule backup tasks.

You can also start a backup task manually on the main RichCopy window.

These GUIs make Robocopy a good option for backing up files in Windows faster than simply using the normal copy command or Windows Explorer. They’re both free tools to enhance a free Windows feature. This allows you to perform simple or advanced backups without buying extra software.

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Lori Kaufman is a technology expert with 25 years of experience. She's been a senior technical writer, worked as a programmer, and has even run her own multi-location business.
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