Frustrated by Windows Explorer

One of the things that drives me crazy is to keep hearing… it’s coming in Longhorn.. it’s coming in Longhorn.. it’s coming in Longhorn… I am very excited about what will be coming in Longhorn, although also a tad nervous about what else might be coming in Longhorn (DRM ala mode, etc.). On the other hand I consistently have real problems with real software in XP here and now today.

This morning I was trying to back up one of my hard drives that I keep my mp3s on. The hard drives are both external Maxtor 250 gig drives. So I select all the folders on the one drive and then try and drag it over to the 2nd drive to copy and get an error message that it cannot copy.

WTF? How about more detail in the error message. It said “couldn’t read from the source” I also get the can’t copy due to I/O device error one a lot too. Instead, how about “can’t copy because file XYZ is corrupt.” Now I have to go folder by folder in alllllllll of the subfolders and copy them each over individually until inevitably I find some file or folder somewhere that is the culprit. This is really a pain and totally unacceptable. It’s a really inconvenient way to do a really important thing — back your data up. And here’s another great idea. How about instead of just saying can’t copy, include a little box that says “would you like for Windows Explorer to copy all of the files that it can copy and not copy the ones giving us the problem here. How about that idea!

So my question is does anyone know of an alternative way to back up a drive without doing a drag and drop through Windows Explorer? Are there other utilities out there that are better at moving files around than Windows Explorer? And why does this keep happening with my Maxtor external drives. Are they just poor drives that consistently corrupt data? Is it that some of my CDs that I’ve ripped have some kind of hidden DRM in them that I’m not aware of that somehow kill my whole copy job? I’d love to hear a better explanation on why copying all of my files on one drive to a backup drive is so damn difficult.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Hey Thomas

    I’m really enjoying your site, I like your choices in links 🙂

    Here’s how I backup drives:

    Create a batch file called backup.bat
    Use robocopy to copy the data to an external USB2 device
    Check my log files

    My robocopy command would look like this:

    robocopy c:\music e:\backup\music /r:1 /w:1 /log:c:\backup\musicbackup.log

    Robocopy will only copy the changed files, your backup will take no time at all unless you’ve added a lot of new files. Oh, I almost forgot, robocopy comes with the Windows 2000 resource kit. Oh I googled it, most versions are backward compatible.

    http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=9d467a69-57ff-4ae7-96ee-b18c4790cffd&displaylang;=en

    John the Kiwi
    http://www.johnthekiwi.com

  2. Anonymous says:

    Haven’t used Windows Explorer for years really…
    Total Commander (an advanced clone of the old Norton Commander) is by far the most effective way to handle files and folders and, well, anything in a Windows system. Check out the nagware-version from http://www.ghisler.com

  3. Anonymous says:

    Maybe I’m a dinosaur but I still use DOS (well, they now call it Command). I recently had to do something similar – transfer about 20GB of .ogg, .flac, and .mp3 files from one computer to another on my home network. Explorer is indeed a drag for this. Tried and failed a few times. So I poked around and found that the version of xcopy included in XP is actually reasonably powerful, much better than the old days.

    So, it’s WindowsKey+R, type CMD, hit enter, and then:

    xcopy /e /v /c c:\music\*.* \\cortana\c\music

    and it worked, even recognizing the remote pc (cortana) and share (c) flawlessly.

    xcopy /? gives you lots of info on the various switches you can use.

  4. Matt says:

    SyncToy, a free Microsoft PowerToy, is available on their site.