If you’ve worked with Microsoft Windows long enough, you may have already heard of RichCopy. If not, you have been missing one of the most powerful copy/transfer tools available for the Windows operating system. This tool was created by Microsoft engineer Ken Tamaru in 2001, and it boasts a number of amazing features, including:

  • Multithreaded copy
  • Pause/restart
  • Granular control
  • Timer
  • Purge original
  • Move
  • Destination check
  • Profiles
  • File exclusion/inclusion
  • FTP copy
  • Command-line options

Of course, RichCopy is not for the average user. Anyone who thinks Ctrl-C / Ctrl-V is good enough can skip RichCopy. This tool is for power users. If you copy large amounts of files or have a need to copy from one machine to another — RichCopy is the tool for you.

This blog post is also available in PDF format as a free TechRepublic download.

Getting and installing

Installing is simple. Download the RichCopy executable file (HoffmanUtilitySpotlight2009_04.exe), double-click it, and watch the RichCopy installer do its thing.

Once it is installed, you will find RichCopy in the Start menu under the Microsoft Rich Tools submenu. To start RichCopy, click on the RichCopy subdirectory and then the RichCopy entry.

Main window

Once you open RichCopy, you will immediately see how user-friendly this powerful tool is (Figure A). Using RichCopy is simple:

  • Select a source file(s).
  • Select a destination.
  • Click the start button.

Of course, that is a very basic copy action.

Figure A

Once you click the Options button, you will see how much power RichCopy has to offer.

Going beyond your basic copy action is simple. Click on the Options button to reveal the real meat and potatoes of RichCopy (Figure B).

Figure B

At first, the Options window can be a bit overwhelming.

Deciphering the options

Instead of looking at the options as a whole, make sure you break them down into their pieces:

  • Method: Are you moving, purging, consolidating?
  • Mode: How is the copying process happening?
  • Thread Number: How many threads do you want to use?
  • General Options: Which of the various options, including a timer, Ignore read-only flag, etc., fits your needs?
  • Copy If: When do you want files to be copied?

Let’s take a closer look at the various options.


These options have to do with how the files are dealt with. By selecting one of these options, you can switch how RichCopy deals with your files. Here’s how each option works:

  • Purge: This will empty the contents of a source directory (but leave the directory behind) when the copy is complete.
  • Move: Instead of copying the files, this will move the files to the destination.
  • Consolidate: This will move multiple sources into one destination directory.
  • Verify: This will compare with source file upon successful copy.


  • Trickle: This option is currently unavailable.
  • Preprocess: All files and directories are searched and checked before processing.
  • Wait Target: RichCopy will wait for the copy until the configured amount of time has expired.
  • Timer: You configure specific date/time for the process to occur.

Thread Number

  • Directory search: Specify number of threads to use for a directory search.
  • Directory copy: Specify number of threads to use for directory copy.
  • File copy: Specify number of threads to use for file copy.


  • Ignore read-only flag: If file has a read-only flag set, this will ignore it.
  • Directory creation only: Copy directories only (no files).
  • Create directory only when it has a child: If source directory has no child files or directories, the destination directory will not be created. In other words, do not create destination directory if source directory is empty.
  • Turn off system buffer: Do not use system cache for read/write.
  • Serialize disk access: Minimize overhead by serializing all access. This does not limit threading however.
  • Copy always: Do not compare files. This will force RichCopy to always copy.

Copy if…

  • Security: Compare security settings of files.
  • Availability: Check if the file exists in destination.
  • File size: Compare file sizes.
  • Attribute: Compare attributes of both source and destination files.
  • Time stamp: Compare time stamps of source and destination.

File filters

If you check the left pane of the options window, you will see, in the expanded tree view, two entries:

  • Files to be included
  • Files to be excluded

This is where you filter your files for copy. You will notice in the basic window that you can select only  directories to copy. This does you no good if you need to copy a single file or a group of files from a directory. It’s not as simple as pointing and clicking to add files. What you need to do is set up conditions for the process.

Let’s say you have a large directory filled with images for copying, but you want to copy only the latest additions. You can specify creation dates from the Files to Be Included entry, as shown in Figure C.

Figure C

You can create much more than time-based expressions for copying.

Check out the Creation date section. In this section you will want to select the Same or Newer than Following Date on either the Files or Directories section. Once the option is selected, you can configure both date and time of creation for determining which files to copy.

From this same window you can also use names. Say, for instance, you want to copy all files with the string IMG in the name. To do this, you would want to include the wild card character “*” in the Names section under Files like “*IMG*” (without quotes). This will copy all files with IMG in the file name to the destination.

NOTE: Once you set configuration options, those options will remain until you change them. You can create profiles by clicking the New button in the left pane. This way you can create multiple copy jobs with completely different options.

Final thoughts

If you are a power user or have large-scale copy jobs to undertake, do yourself a favor and use RichCopy. You will save yourself a lot of time and hassle.

Stay on top of the latest XP tips and tricks with TechRepublic’s Windows XP newsletter, delivered every Thursday. Automatically sign up today!