Xcopy vs Robocopy: Choosing the Perfect Copying Tool

July 23, 2023,

Copying or moving data and files can be complicated or easy. You may have to use different tools to copy your files or a group of files across a network, such as Xcopy and Robocopy. These applications are command prompt utilities for copying files, directories or subdirectories.

In this article, we will help you with Xcopy vs Robocopy, which will be better for your usage and be time-effective.

Functionality and Features

Xcopy (Extended Copy) is a command prompt command line used for copying an entire directory tree and is more or less an advanced version of the original copy command line.


Xcopy vs RoboCopy - XCopy Help
  • Xcopy can copy files, entire directories and subdirectories with a command.
  • It effectively excludes file copying based on the file extension or names.
  • It has a simple learning curve.
  • You can create a new directory by copying an existing directory’s files and other content.

Xcopy is available on Microsoft Windows, including Windows 10. IBM PC DOS, FreeDos and ReactOS


Xcopy vs RoboCopy - Robocopy Help
  • You can skip NTFS Junction Points, which are prone to copy failures due to infinite loops.
  • The timestamp recording allows you to resume copying a file from an interrupted process.
  • Multithreading makes the copy process faster.
  • Mirror function (/mir) is easier to target a source folder to sync it to another, through which if you delete data in the source folder, the same will happen to the mirrored folder.
  • You can specify what to do with duplicate files or the same names.

Robocopy is the perfect tool for a more modern era and can be used by those looking to create a complex copy and past system for their data. Robocopy (Robust File Copy) is an even more advanced version of Xcopy and replaces newer Windows versions such as Windows 10 or 11.

Robocopy is especially useful for those who prefer to avoid getting their file copying interrupted, as Robocopy can start a copying process from where it was initially interrupted.

Pros and Cons of Xcopy and RoboCopy

What can we do about Xcopy vs Robocopy? While both of these tools can help you and serve the purpose of copying across a network on any computer device, the ways of doing so are different.

For many, Xcopy might be a slightly easier tool to use as compared to Robocopy. However, the advanced features of Robocopy can make it more attractive to users. 

Let us look at some of the pros and cons of both Xcopy vs Robocopy:

Pros of Xcopy Vs RoboCopy


  • Xcopy has a simple learning curve, and beginners can use it for computing. In essence, if you are running short on time and need help to work out a solution to copying and pasting, then Xcopy will be the best option.
  • In simple terms, Xcopy is the best for personal work on your computer. For larger amounts of files, Xcopy will fail.


  • Robocopy is made with more advanced users in mind, with features that are on a much higher level as compared to Xcopy. However, Robocopy has a steeper learning curve and may be less effective for those looking for a quick copy-and-paste solution across a network. 
    But if you want to transfer many files across a network, Robocopy will be a good choice.
  • In simple, Robocopy is suitable for big companies or institutions looking to secure their files by mirroring them and transferring them quickly on several networks of computers. Multithreading (the use of multiple CPU processors) is already an advantage over what one would get on using Xcopy.
  • The option of compression also can make transferring files easier as it slightly reduces the size of the data while moving.

Overall, Robocopy is suitable for copying files on a large scale without interruptions.

Cons of Xcopy Vs RoboCopy


  • Xcopy can encounter an error when the file path and name exceed 254 characters. In this case, Xcopy will fail with an “Insufficient Memory” error message due to trying to use all the available RAM on a computer.
  • Xcopy cannot copy open files because it does not support Window Volume Shadow Copy Services VSS.
  • Xcopy does not copy all the attributes of a file, such as a timestamp or security information.
  • If a file transfer fails, the user must manually start the Xcopy copying process, as Xcopy itself will not try.
  • Xcopy does not support the resuming of an interrupted copying process. Adding the /d switch to the syntax will allow it to restart and copy only files created or edited since the last copy.


In these cases, the usage of Xcopy can be limiting and may be suitable for use if a user is only transferring their files or working for a small group.


  • Robocopy has a steeper learning curve. The vast amounts of command prompt lines can be hard to remember and may need thorough notes of commands. While there was a GUI front-end of Robocopy called Robocopy GUI, it was deprecated. Therefore, it will best work on the command prompt, which can initially be confusing.
  • Robocopy can unintentionally delete files and may transfer some data that are not necessary to move to another drive.


While Robocopy can be the best solution for quick copying on a large scale, it could be more effective for those just starting with the program as a guide. In such a case, Xcopy is a simple learning curve for those looking for quick copying. But Robocopy takes the cake otherwise due to its wide variety of features and overall functionality.

Performance Comparison

Thanks to multithreading (/MT command line), the performance of Robocopy on the transfer of files on a large scale can be relatively quick.

Check out the performance of copy operation between RoboCopy and Xcopy done by flexense.com. The file copy operations were performed between two identical Crucial MX300 1TB SSD drives using the same data set containing 30,000 small and medium-sized files. 

XCopy vs RoboCopy - Copy performance

As you can see above, Robocopy excels in Disk Transfer Rate, Disk Write Transfer, Disk Transfer IOPS, Disk Write IOPS, Disk Read IOPS, Disk average Write Request Size, Disk Average Write Request Time, CPU Usage, CPU usage system with the disk transfer rate. Robocopy can work even faster with a few command lines when given appropriately.

Xcopy performs slightly better on Disk Read Transfer; however, it performs worse on other aspects as compared to Robocopy. Although, if a user has a powerful computer and a good network, it can increase the copying speed.

Overall, both Xcopy vs Robocopy comparison shows that Robocopy performs much better than Xcopy in most cases. However, the performance depends on the network setting and hardware.

Space Management

Generally speaking, when copying, Robocopy can copy all the attributes of a file, such as an audit, security and time stamp, and file owner info. It makes copying files easier and more streamlined while allowing the user to resume the copy process if it gets interrupted from where they started.

The clearest difference between Robocopy and Xcopy is how it handles storage management. In contrast, Xcopy will copy duplicates, and Robocopy will only copy the files needed to be transferred and leave the unchanged files alone. With/MON or /MOT commands, you can easily monitor whether there are changes to a file and only copy those that are unchanged.

The mirroring option is another feature only available in Robocopy through which a duplicate folder will experience changes whenever the source directly (original) is changed; Xcopy has no such feature.

Use Cases and Recommendations


Personal File Management: If you need to manage individual files on a small scale, Xcopy is a reliable option. Copying files, directories, and subdirectories simplifies the process and makes it an ideal solution for backups, transferring files within a small network, and organising personal files.

Basic File Transfers: For simple file transfers with no detailed specifications, Xcopy is a reliable and speedy solution. Its straightforward design requires minimal learning, making it ideal for beginners. Xcopy’s user-friendly interface is perfect for those needing a basic copying tool without advanced functions.

Integration with Scripts: With Xcopy’s command-line interface, users can easily integrate file copy tasks into their batch files or scripting processes. This feature makes it ideal for those who require automation workflows and script integration.

Strengths of Xcopy:

  • Simple and user-friendly interface.
  • Minimal learning curve.
  • Quick and efficient for small-scale file transfers.
  • Suitable for personal file management and basic copying tasks.
  • Integration with scripts and automation workflows.


Large-Scale Data Migration: Robocopy is an excellent tool for managing large-scale data migration tasks. With its multithreading capabilities, RoboCopy can transfer files in parallel, resulting in faster copying speeds with optimal performance during the file transfer, mainly when dealing with a significant number of files or large file sizes.

Backup and Disaster Recovery: With features like intelligent retries, error handling, and the ability to resume interrupted transfers, Robocopy is well-suited for backup and disaster recovery scenarios. It provides robust mechanisms to ensure data integrity and continuity, making it a reliable choice for creating backups or mirroring data between storage devices.

Synchronisation and Mirroring: The roboCopy mirror feature can detect and maintain an identical copy in the source and destination directories efficiently; this makes RoboCopy an ideal solution when you need to keep duplicate copies across different locations or devices and remain synced.

Strengths of Robocopy:

  • Multithreading capabilities for faster and more efficient file transfers.
  • Optimal resource utilisation for improved performance.
  • Robust error handling and intelligent retries for backup and disaster recovery.
  • Synchronisation and mirroring functionality for maintaining identical copies of data.
  • Ideal for large-scale data migration and complex copying scenarios.

For Xcopy vs Robocopy, the user needs may be determined by the user using it and may vary depending on what sort of copying needs.


Xcopy and Robocopy have different features and usage, such as Robocopy featuring the mirroring option. In contrast, Xcopy has a simple-to-use interface and a quick option for transferring files across a directory. 

While Robocopy wins for having much more advanced features than Xcopy and a better transfer rate, Robocopy has been utilised by most users worldwide as Windows has deprecated Xcopy.

However, the commands for Xcopy can still be vast such as for automatically making new directories and copying subdirectories, along with having a relatively fast speed for old computer users. Therefore, Xcopy may be the best term for those who need to be well-acquainted with Robocopy.

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