Problem solve Get help with specific problems with your technologies, process and projects.

Work around Windows Vista's slow copying of data across a network

Windows Vista has problems copying large amounts of data to or from a network share. Microsoft has a hotfix for those who really need it, but it's not available for general use. Until then, here's a workaround based on Xcopy or Robocopy.

Many people say they won't upgrade to Windows Vista until Microsoft releases Service Pack 1 for it because they'd rather not be an ongoing beta-tester. I've run into a Windows Vista issue that gives their argument more weight: Apparently Vista has problems copying large amounts of data to or from a network share.

I discovered the issue after I returned from a trip. I'd copied about 450MB worth of photos from my digital camera's memory card to my notebook computer, and decided to copy them out from the notebook to the folder on my main PC where I keep my photos. To my dismay, the copy process took almost half an hour, even across a wired network.

After some research I came across a blog post by Paul Robichaux about speeding up Vista Explorer. The post referred to a recent Knowledge Base article that discussed how the copy process may stop responding when you try to copy files from a server on a network to a Vista-based computer.

The Knowledge Base article refers to a hotfix that has not been released to the general public yet; it's only available only from Microsoft Product Support Services for those who really need it, but it can be obtained for free. (The hotfix should be made available for general use once it's been fully regression-tested, and should show up as one of the changes made to Vista in Service Pack 1.)

The slow copy process seems to be due to the way Vista Explorer handles Server Message Block (SMB) shares, and may also be due to the fact that Explorer in Vista, by default, parses files for thumbnail icons across the network. (To change this option, go to Control Pane | Folder Options | View and check "Always show icons, never thumbnails.")

There's one other workaround: using XCOPY or ROBOCOPY from the command line to move large amounts of files across a network link. ROBOCOPY is the more complex but also the most robust way to do it. XCOPY isn't as flexible but usually gets the job done. In fact, I used XCOPY to accomplish the above copy operation, and the whole process took about five minutes.

About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Insight, (formerly the Windows Power Users Newsletter), a blog site devoted to hints, tips, tricks and news for users and administrators of Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003 and Vista. He has more than 12 years of Windows experience under his belt, and contributes regularly to and

More information on this topic:

Dig Deeper on Microsoft Hyper-V management

Start the conversation

Send me notifications when other members comment.

Please create a username to comment.