Q

Use RoboCopy to copy files from crashed hard disk drives

By using the RoboCopy admins can avoid having to manually determine which files need to be copied over from crashed hard disk drives, says Desktop Management expert Serdar Yegulalp.

I often find myself copying a friend's/client's hard disk drive, to put back on after reinstalling Windows. Often, the hard disk drives have errors causing the copying process to fail, and I have to manually figure out which files still need to be copied.

Is there a better way of copying files from crashed hard disk drives in which the process won't fail and stop if it comes across a corrupt file, i.e., either skip that file and continue, or copy the file with errors and all?

Yes. I recommend using the command-line copying tool called RoboCopy. Microsoft now includes it in its default Windows Vista package but is available as a free download for Windows XP and Windows 2000.

RoboCopy can copy error-prone files in a forgiving way (i.e., skip files that can't be copied and just continue). It also attempts retries when copying across a network connection that may be prone to being dropped or disconnected. I've used this program to recover some error-riddled file repositories from another hard disk drive, and salvage what could be used. There is also a GUI for Robocopy.

This was first published in May 2007

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