Move a file share to a new server using Robocopy

Robocopy is a command line tool that has been around for years, but is still really useful today. It is part of the Windows Server Resource Kit Tools. You will need to install these in order to use the robocopy command. Essentially it is a tool for copying files from one location to another, but with some significant extra advantages over the standard xcopy command. The main advantages that I can see are these:

  • The ability to copy NTFS permissions, if you want to
  • The ability to skip files that have been copied previously, provided that they have not changed

For the reasons above it is still ideal for using when you want to quickly migrate the contents of a file share to a new server. To do this first set up the new file share on the new destination server, making sure the share and NTFS permissions match those that are configured on the old share on the old server.

Next enter the following command in a new batch file, where OLDSERVER is the old file server name, and OLDSHARE is the old share name, and NEWSERVER is the new server name and NEWSHARE is the new share name:


The command basically tells robocopy to copy the contents from the UNC path of the old share, to the UNC path of the new share. The /S and /E tell robocopy to copy any subdirectories, and empty directories. In this example the /COPY:DATS tells robocopy to copy the Data, Attributes, Timestamps and Security information. There are a couple of other elements that you can also copy if you want. To copy everything use /COPY:DATSOU or alternatively /COPYALL. Here is a list of all the flags you can use with the /COPY: part of the command:

D – Data

A – Attributes

T – Timestamps

S – Security i.e. NTFS permissions

O – Owner information

U – Auditing information

The beauty of this solution is that you can run this script during the day, when users are on the system to do the initial copy which depending on how much data is in the share could take a while (that said, this is obviously not a good idea if you are copying the contents to a remote server over a slow WAN link). Then out of hours you can run the script again, but this time it will only copy any files which have changed since the last copy making the copy process a lot quicker. Then all you need to do is change the path for any drive mappings you have in your login script, or group policy preferences, to point to the new file share on the new server. When your users come in the following day, they will will be blissfully unaware that the data has been relocated.

Robocopy has other uses too, and various other options check the help information for more details using:

robocopy /?