You’re transferring files between two remote locations and the transmission is agonizingly slow. Is the local computer to blame? Read on as we dig into the nuances of file transfer.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

SuperUser reader Cyborgcommand0 is curious if file transfers between remote hosts are slowed down by his local computer. He writes:

When I transfer files between servers on my desktop is my computer an intermediary?

For example, on a Windows based system I have two windows explorer programs opened and in each explorer window I am viewing the contents of two server’s files.

Now, if I were to transfer files between both servers by dragging files across my desktop from one into another are those files going directly to each other or is my PC being used as an intermediary and slowing the transfer speed?

What’s the story? Which path are the files following?

The Answer

SuperUser contributor Keltari clears things up:

If you are using Windows Explorer on desktop A to transfer files from server B to server C, then yes the files are traveling from B to A to C.

The easiest way to bypass this method is to use a Remote Desktop Connection to server B and then copy to Server C.

There are other alternative methods, such as using telnet, ssh, scripts, and 3rd party programs that allow you to bypass the middleman.

So when you use the Windows Explorer, the files must first be transferred to your computer (however temporarily) and then through your connect back to the secondary destination. Clearly, ditching Explorer (which is best suited for local files) for a proper remote management tool is the best plan to avoid bottlenecks.

Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.



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Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
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