Fast Copy

How to use Robocopy to transfer files super-fast over the network on Windows 10

Windows 10 has a hidden tool called Robocopy to copy files very fast between computers over the network — here's how to use it.

Robocopy on Windows 10

After setting up Windows 10, you may still need to transfer all your files to the new computer. Typically, you can use an external storage to copy the files and move them over to the new device. Or, if you are a tech-savvy user, you probably transfer the files over to the network using file share.

While these are all good options, depending on the amount of data you need to transfer, the process can take a long time using File Explorer. If you want to copy a lot of files faster and more reliably, you need a better solution, such as Robocopy.

Robocopy (Robust File Copy) is a command-line tool built into Windows 10, but it has been around for years, and it’s a powerful and flexible tool to migrate files extremely fast.

This guide will teach you how to use Robocopy to quickly transfer huge amounts of files over the network on Windows 10. (These steps should also work on Windows 11.)

How to use Robocopy to copy files over the network fast

The features included with Robocopy allow you to copy files very quickly but remember that you will need a wired connection for the best experience. The time to complete the transfer will depend on the network connection speed and drive performance.

This is a two-step process. You must first configure file sharing on the source device and then use Robocopy in the destination device to perform the transfer.

1. Confiture file sharing on Windows 10

To share files on your local network using the Windows 10 express settings, use these steps:

  1. Open File Explorer on Windows 10.

  2. Navigate to the folder with the files that you want to migrate.

  3. Right-click the folder and select the Properties option.

    Folder Properties option

  4. On the “Properties” page, click the Sharing tab.

  5. Click the Share button.

    Folder Sharing tab

  6. Use the drop-down menu to select the user or group to share files or folders – For example, the Everyone group.

  7. Click the Add button.

    Choose people to share with

  8. Under “Permission Level,” select the sharing permissions you want the folder to have. For example, you can select Read (default) if you only want users to view and open files. If you select Read/Write, users can view, open, modify, and delete the content on the folder you’re sharing.

  9. Click the Share button.

    Share permission level

  10. Note the network path for the folder that other users will need to access the content over the network, and click the Done button.

  11. Click the Close button.

    Shared folder path

After you complete the steps, make a note of the folder path and the IP address of your source computer. 

Quick tip: You can quickly find out your IP address on Settings > Network & Internet, click Wi-Fi or Ethernet, and click the connection to view the information.

2. Use Robocopy to copy files on Windows 10 fast over the network

Once file sharing is configured on the source device, you can copy the files using Robocopy from the destination device.

To use Robocopy to copy files fast on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.

  2. Search for Command Prompt, right-click the top result, and select the Run as administrator option.

  3. Type the following command to copy the files over the network and press Enter:

    robocopy \\source-device-ip\path\to\share\folder C:\destination-device\path\to\store\files /E /Z /ZB /R:5 /W:5 /TBD /NP /V /MT:16

    Example:

    robocopy \\10.1.2.111\Users\admin\Documents C:\Users\admin\Documents /E /Z /ZB /R:5 /W:5 /TBD /NP /V /MT:16

    Robocopy fast copy over network

    In the above command, make sure to change the source and destination paths with your configuration.

Robocopy command options breakdown

Robocopy has many features that you can use, and in the command shown in this guide, we’re using the following options to make the copy reliable and fast.

  • /S — Copy subdirectories, but not empty ones.
  • /E — Copy Subdirectories, including empty ones.
  • /Z — Copy files in restartable mode.
  • /ZB — Uses restartable mode. If access is denied, use backup mode.
  • /R:5 — Retry 5 times (you can specify a different number, the default is 1 million).
  • /W:5 — Wait 5 seconds before retrying (you can specify a different number, the default is 30 seconds).
  • /TBD — Wait for share names To Be Defined (retry error 67).
  • /NP — No Progress – don’t display percentage copied.
  • /V — Produce verbose output, showing skipped files.
  • /MT:16 — Do multithreaded copies with n threads (default is 8).

Perhaps the most important switch to pay attention to is /MT, which is a feature that enables Robocopy to copy files in multithreaded mode. Typically, when you copy files using File Explorer, you’re only copying one file at a time. However, with multithreaded enabled, you can copy multiple files simultaneously, better utilizing the bandwidth and significantly speeding up the process.

If you do not set a number when using the “/MT” switch, then the default number will be “8,” which means that Robocopy will try to copy eight files at the same time, but the tool supports “1” to “128” threads.

In the command shown in this guide, we use “16,” but you can set it to a higher number. The only caveat is that more processing power and bandwidth will be used when using higher numbers. If you have an older processor and an unreliable network connection, it could cause issues. As such, make sure to test the command before executing the command with a high number of threads.

You can always view all the available switches, run the robocopy /? command.