Using xcopy for backups

For DOS purists everywhere, you can use the Windows XCOPY command to carry out simple but effective backups as follows:

G:\BK> xcopy/s/e/d/y/r/h/c C:\*.*

This command will copy every file on C: to G:\BK and will include all subdirectories (/s) including empty ones (/e), copying only files that have actually changed (/d). It will also presume yes to any questions asked (/y), overwrite read-only files (/r), copy hidden and systems files also (/h) and continue if errors occur (/c).


  • The /c parameter is useful for when you want to skip past (system) files that are in use (normally reported as sharing violations)
  • The /d is only useful if your target disk drive has been formatted using NTFS (for me this is the most powerful and useful parameter.
  • Even though you might think that you don’t want hidden/system files to be copied, bear in mind that Windows Media Player stores the artwork images for albums and songs as hiddent JPG files so if  you leave out the /h parameter you wouldn’t necessarily be backing up everything in your music collection.