Microsoft DOS xcopy command

Quick links

About xcopy
Availability
Syntax
Examples
Questions and answers

About xcopy

Xcopy is a powerful version of the copy command with additional features; has the capability of moving files, directories, and even whole drives from one location to another.

Tip: Users running recent versions of Windows should also consider using robocopy.

Availability

The xcopy command is an external command that is available in the below Microsoft operating systems

MS-DOS 3.3x and above
Windows 95
Windows 98
Windows ME
Windows NT
Windows 2000
Windows XP
Windows Vista
Windows 7
Windows 8

Syntax

Windows 2000, XP, and later syntax
Windows 98 and older syntax

Windows 2000, XP, and later syntax

XCOPY source [destination] [/A | /M] [/D[:date]] [/P] [/S [/E]] [/V] [/W] [/C] [/I] [/Q] [/F] [/L] [/H] [/R] [/T] [/U] [/K] [/N] [/O] [/X] [/Y] [/-Y] [/Z] [/B] [/J] [/EXCLUDE:file1[+file2][+file3]...]

Note: Only Windows Vista and later includes the [/B] and [/J] options.

source Specifies the file(s) to copy.
destination Specifies the location or name of new files.
/A Copies only files with the archive attribute set, doesn't change the attribute.
/M Copies only files with the archive attribute set, turns off the archive attribute.
/D:m-d-y Copies files changed on or after the specified date. If no date is given, copies only those files whose source time is newer than the destination time.
/EXCLUDE:file1 [+file2][+file3]... Specifies a list of files containing strings. When any of the strings match any part of the absolute path of the file to be copied, that file will be excluded from being copied. For example, specifying a string like \obj\ or .obj will exclude all files underneath the directory obj or all files with the .obj extension respectively.
/P Prompts you before creating each destination file.
/S Copies directories and subdirectories except empty ones.
/E Copies directories and subdirectories, including empty ones. Same as /S /E. May be used to modify /T.
/V Verifies each new file.
/W Prompts you to press a key before copying.
/C Continues copying even if errors occur.
/I If destination does not exist and copying more than one file, assumes that destination must be a directory.
/Q Does not display file names while copying.
/F Displays full source and destination file names while copying.
/L Displays files that would be copied.
/H Copies hidden and system files also.
/R Overwrites read-only files.
/T Creates directory structure, but does not copy files. Does not include empty directories or subdirectories. /T /E includes empty directories and subdirectories.
/U Copies only files that already exist in destination.
/K Copies attributes. Normal Xcopy will reset read-only attributes.
/N Copies using the generated short names.
/O Copies file ownership and ACL information.
/X Copies file audit settings (implies /O).
/Y Suppresses prompting to confirm you want to overwrite an existing destination file.
/-Y Causes prompting to confirm you want to overwrite an existing destination file.
/Z Copies networked files in restartable mode.
/B Copies the Symbolic Link itself versus the target of the link.
/J Copies using unbuffered I/O. Recommended for very large files.

The switch /Y may be preset in the COPYCMD environment variable.
This may be overridden with /-Y on the command line.

Windows 98 and older syntax

Copies files and directory trees.

XCOPY source [destination] [/A | /M] [/D[:date]] [/P] [/S [/E]] [/W] [/C] [/I] [/Q] [/F] [/L] [/H] [/R] [/T] [/U] [/K] [/N]

source Specifies the file(s) to copy.
destination Specifies the location or name of new files.
/A Copies files with the archive attribute set, doesn't change the attribute.
/M Copies files with the archive attribute set, turns off the archive attribute.
/D:date Copies files changed on or after the specified date. If no date is given, copies only those files whose source time is newer than the destination time.
/P Prompts you before creating each destination file.
/S Copies directories and sub directories except empty ones.
/E Copies directories and sub directories, including empty ones. Same as /S /E. May be used to modify /T.
/W Prompts you to press a key before copying.
/C Continues copying even if errors occur.
/I If destination does not exist and copying more than one file, assumes that destination must be a directory.
/Q Does not display file names while copying.
/F Displays full source and destination file names while copying.
/L Displays files that would be copied.
/H Copies hidden and system files also.
/R Overwrites read-only files.
/T Creates directory structure, but does not copy files. Does not include empty directories or sub directories. /T /E includes empty directories and sub directories.
/U Updates the files that already exist in destination.
/K Copies attributes. Normal xcopy will reset read-only attributes.
/Y Overwrites existing files without prompting.
/-Y Prompts you before overwriting existing files.
/N Copy using the generated short names.

Examples

xcopy *.* /h hope

In the above example, the xcopy command will copy all files in the current directory including any hidden files into the hope directory.

xcopy c:\temp /e

The above example is the basic xcopy command to copy the files, directories, and subdirectories to the directory you're currently in.

xcopy "c:\documents and settings\hope" /e

In the above example the xcopy command would copy all files and directories in the user "hope" directory to the directory or drive you're currently in.

xcopy hope example /e

In the above example this xcopy command copies all directories (even empty directories) and files from the hope directory into the example directory.

xcopy h:\*.* /a /e /k

The above command would copy everything located on the H drive to the drive you are currently on.

Questions and answers

Getting Invalid number of parameters error

This error occurs when you're typing a directory in the MS-DOS or the Windows command line that has spaces in it. For example using the xcopy command to copy files in the Documents and Settings folder. When typing a directory with spaces in MS-DOS make sure to surround the path with quotes. For example, instead of typing: c:\documents and settings type "c:\documents and settings".

Cannot perform a cyclic copy

This error occurs when you're trying to copy all directories and files and that directory also contains the directory you're copying all the files to. If this command were to be allowed it would get into a loop and would never stop copying the same files over and over. When using the xcopy command if you're copying all subdirectories you must copy those files and folders to a completely separate directory or drive.

Parse error

This error occurs when the command you're typing in has invalid syntax. For example, if you're surrounding your path in quotes and leave out the ending quotes.

I attempted to use the above xcopy command and was not able to copy all files within my favorites folder.

After further examination, Computer Hope also encountered this issue. However, was able to copy the majority of all favorites by using the below command.

xcopy c:\windows\favorites\*.* /e /k /i /c

We are under the impression that this issue is generated because of the way that Internet Explorer saves the URL (favorite) using long file names as well as extended characters.

Additional information