Robobackup – The Hidden Windows Tool for Backup Copying and Mirror Copying

Robocopy is a great command line copy tool from Microsoft which goes far beyond copy and xcopy. Think of it as “Synctoy for scripts”. It is a part of Vista and Win2k8 or can be downloaded for free from Microsoft as part of the Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit Tools.

The features are interesting!

  • Ability to tolerate network outages and resume copying where it previously left off
  • Ability to correctly copy attributes, owner information, alternate data streams etc.
  • Ability to correctly copy NTFS ACLs
  • A “mirror” mode, which keeps trees in sync by optionally deleting files out of the destination that are no longer present in the source.
  • Ability to copy large numbers of files that would otherwise crash the built-in XCOPY utility.
  • Resident mode (robocopy stays in memory and monitors the source folder for changes and copies them as they happen)

Usage is straightforward:

robocopy C:\myfiles \\backup\myfiles /MIR /Z

mirrors the folder “c:\myfiles” (including subfolders) to the \\backup server, destroying any files in the target folder(s) that are not present in myfiles (/MIR). It copies files in restartable mode (/Z) in case network connection is lost.

Because the list of command line options is enormous it is a good idea to use one of the free GUI programs.

There is an excellent German article abour robocopy from the German c’t magazine available online.

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