It's the miserably implemented copy command in all windows versions and the complete lack of usable alternatives.
The problem: if a file(s) already exist(s) in the destination directory, the resulting replace prompt only offers "yes", "no", "yes to all", and "cancel". Missing are the important options "no to all" and "only if newer".
Furthermore, when a locked or corrupted file is encountered, there is no error handling, the process just drops out, instead of offering a prompt with a sensible set of options like: "skip", "skip all", "skip all and log skipped files".
Instead, the user has to do what is a computer's specialty - by hand; go back, reselect all files, exclude the offending file and hope that there won't be another error 3 files later. Compounding this problem is that Windows 2000 has a problem with file locking, where files that have long been closed remain locked until the next reboot.
3rd-party alternatives I have tested are all cumbersome and often disregard Windows UI conventions. On Microsoft Newsgroups, people have recommended using xcopy (!) I thought that was pretty cool in 1986... Other's suggested Ontrack's Powerdesk, which has a large following, but it actually does not sport a better copy command at all.
I have tried various shareware including Frigate, Singularity, ztree as well as several shell extensions, none of which fixed this simple problem. I've concluded that everyone considers the copy command too basic to invest any time in.
In the end, it doesn't seem to me that I should need third party software at all, for one of the most basic operating system functions, especially considering that Microsoft has enough time on their hands to fumble with minesweeper games and other gimmicks.
It could be that XCOPY does everything you need it to do.
For instance, to continue on with a transaction in the event of an error, use the /c switch.
To copy only newer files, use the /d switch.
You might want to check out the full list of switches using xcopy /?. If you have a particular evolution that doesn?t seem to work with the switches, let me know and I'll help you hunt for a solution.
This was first published in October 2001