If You Like RoboCopy, Consider RichCopy Too

Earlier this week, I found out how to copy file and directory permissions using RoboCopy. To quote Jessica @UberGeekGirl DeVita after I tweeted about my adventures with RoboCopy:

Robocopy ftw

However, there are two main disadvantages to RoboCopy that I’ve come across so far.

RoboCopy Disadvantage #1

It needs the .NET Framework 2.0. Okay, that’s not a huge disadvantage because there’s not much that you can do with a Windows server without the .NET 2.0 framework. Remember, Server 2003 was initially branded as “Windows .NET Server.” However, if you’re still hobbling along with older versions of Windows or you’re really, really obsessed with removing possible attack vectors, you’ll need to keep this requirement in mind.

RoboCopy Disadvantage #2

It is a CLI tool. I know, I know. You’re probably howling “That’s not a disadvantage!” And really, it’s not a huge disadvantage. However, if you only interact with it occasionally then you might prefer to deal with a nice GUI that can help you navigate the myriad of options available. Of course, if you want a GUI to layer on top of RoboCopy there are several to choose from so you’re not completely left in the dark:

I admit, the above two “disadvantages” are rather wispy. However, it’s possible that you could bump into them. And even if you never do bump into them, you might still want to consider an alternative to RoboCopy.

Enter RichCopy

RichCopy is a tool that was initially developed internally at Microsoft back in 1996. It was developed by Microsoft employee Ken Tamaru. If the above to disadvantages are of any significance to you, then RichCopy might be of special interest because it flies in the face of both.

From my preliminary investigation, one product is not a superset of the other. It appears that some features of one are not in the other and vice versa. For example, RichCopy doesn’t seem to have the ability to build a directory structure using empty folders and zero-length files like RoboCopy can with the /create switch. RichCopy does, however, support FTP transfer and the saving of commonly used preferences to different profiles for easy reuse (wow do I wish that was a RoboCopy feature). Much is made of RichCopy’s multithreaded nature, however many people seem to be unaware that RoboCopy is also multithreaded with the use of the /MT[:n] switch. In fact, the latest versions of RoboCopy default to seeding /MT: with the value 8.

Another feature that RichCopy has that I can’t seem to replicate in RoboCopy is the “Consolidate Multiple Sources” option. RoboCopy selects file on a [source] [destination] basis, whereas RichCopy can copy based on multiple sources, however the contents of the multiple sources are consolidated under a the single parent directory of the destination. That can snarl you up a bit if you’re not familiar with the consequences of concatenating multiple folders’ content.

Here’s a quick tip for anyone who decides to try RichCopy: Immediately turn on the display of advanced options by selecting View >> Advanced Options. This allows you to see many more of the options available on the File Copy Options window.

RichCopy’s executable can be ran at the command line and includes an extensive list of switches, however they are not at all similar to RoboCopy’s switches so be prepared to memorize a whole new set. An unexpected bonus in RichCopy is that there is a massive list of errors that you can choose to have cancel the entire copy operation:

Sure, that feature by itself is pretty cool, however I found it cooler that I now have a list of error codes and their human-readable messages. Of course, that also brought up this topic:

RichCopy’s GUI is no-nonsense, but not daunting for casual users (I think? Perhaps I’m a bad judge of non SysAdmin types). You can control just about every aspect of file copying that you could conceivably need in most situations (a notable exception being the creation of empty files and folders). The exclusion and inclusion lists are impressive:

If you’re looking for a RoboCopy GUI, perchance look at RichCopy instead. It has most of the functions and can even access FTP shares (not that any of us are still using FTP). The feature to save commonly used options as individual profiles could come in very hand for frequently performed file copying activities. Saved profiles are accessible through the command line tool as well!

Do you have a RoboCopy alternative that you prefer? Or is RoboCopy forever unparalleled? Let me know in the comments.

9 Comments

  1. dongafford

    January 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    I love Richcopy, but it’s been pretty much abandoned by it’s author(s) as of late. The last update on Ken Tamaru’s website was November 2011 saying there would be a new version in “several more weeks” (http://blogs.technet.com/b/ken/archive/2010/01/20/what-i-was-doing.aspx#3464040)

    I had a recent experience where I was moving 60,000+ files in a file migration and we picked Richcopy due to it’s reporting functionality and it’s speed.

    We got about 20,000 files copied over and Richcopy gave a cryptic error and quit out. I could tell which directory was the last one it was working in and re-started the process focused on that directory and there was no failure. I think the issue is around the number of files Richcopy has to move not a specific issue with a file I was migrating.

    Based on my experience, I have used Richcopy for smaller file migrations without issue, but for larger ones, I use the latest (Windows 2008 R2 / Windows 7) version of Robocopy to get the more advanced switches (multithreaded copies for one) and to make sure that the migration completes. Unfortunately, this means the migration will be slower and I will have to right-click properties on the shares to see how much has copied over.

    I hope the forthcoming version of Richcopy can fix the crashing issue I ran into. Keep checking for it on Ken Tamaru’s blog at

    http://blogs.technet.com/b/ken/

    Reply

    • Wesley David

      January 19, 2012 at 9:03 pm

      Wow, thanks for sharing your experience. Good to know. Do you think it was a memory issue?

      Reply

  2. Graycat

    July 4, 2012 at 1:03 am

    We’re just implementing another set of DR file servers and archive servers and need to copy ~2Tb across the WAN so of course we went with the built in Robocopy to preseed the data.

    The issue we’re running into is keeping the source and target servers synchronised on a nightly basis. Robocopy simply struggles with the sheer volume of data……. until we remembered it’s now multi-threading and you can control the number of threads!

    By default it uses 8 threads but when you dial it up to its max of 128 you get a good performance jump.

    Reply

    • Wesley David

      July 4, 2012 at 11:26 am

      Good to hear! What kinds of deltas are you dealing with? A few GB per night?

      Reply

  3. kghastie

    December 27, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    I just tried out WinRoboCopy, a GUI for robocopy, and I am enjoying it. And it appears to be in active development (gasp!) Check it out at http://www.upway2late.com/downloads

    http://www.upway2late.com/downloads

    Reply

    • kghastie

      December 27, 2012 at 12:20 pm

      I should add that it has the ability to save search templates and quickly export .cmd versions of the command it executes (which it shows you as you are selecting options). There is also an easy Schedule button that I assume uses win Task Scheduler. Drag n drop supported, although no explorer hook.

      Reply

      • kghastie

        December 27, 2012 at 12:25 pm

        last thing: I see that there are a lot of options that I would use frequently that don’t appear to have associated checkboxes (MIR, MOV, PURGE, etc…). But it looks like you can type in any extra command-line switches you like.

        Reply

  4. Rick_R

    June 21, 2013 at 6:05 pm

    WARNING! – SEVERE fragmentation!

    I have been using RichCopy at work since September 2010 for nightly backups with no problem.

    I recently reorganized my home system, moving 500+GB from my “Storage – rarely changes” disk to USB backup drives. For speed, I used RichCopy instead of Teracopy.

    BIG MISTAKE! I now have a 1.5TB drive with SIXTY-FIVE PERCENT fragmentation! About 850GB, about 4,400 files and over 300,000 fragments!

    PerfectDisk flat out choked. It would get to one large file (about 19GB) and just never move on. I’m now running Defraggler from Piriform and it is telling me it will take MORE THAN A DAY to defrag the drive!

    And actually, RichCopy was telling me it was transferring about 2.9MB per second versus Teracopy around 18-21MB. (I moved things to 2 separate drives, one mainly with Teracopy, then the second mainly with RichCopy.

    Reply

    • Wesley David

      June 21, 2013 at 7:45 pm

      Wow, thanks for this insight!

      Reply

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