Microsoft's Multithread Copy Solution

key review info
application features
  • Improved copy performance
  • (6 more, see all...)

One of the simplest tasks on a computer is file copying and most users take the file copier in Windows for granted without thinking that there can be third-party software designed to improve the process and add more functionality at the same time.

The truth is that a self-respecting file manager should come with its own solution for file copying and not appeal to the one in Windows OS. It may be hard to believe that besides the simple drag and drop or the standard copy\paste there could be more to be done for file copying. And yet, if you were to take a comparison test between Total Commander's way of copying files and the standard one provided in Windows you would notice that the latter does not do that well all the time.

What can be done to improve file copying speed and what else can this process hold in order to give you a viable alternative to all there is on the market nowadays? A simple glance at RichCopy, a freebie kept under the Microsoft lock for years and now revealed to the general public, will definitely give you the answer.

For many years RichCopy was a file copying tool used internally at Microsoft, but now the curfew has been lifted and the application is available for the public. It is a freebie designed to help you speed up the copying process either locally or when transferring from a remote server. But its advantages do not stop here as it features a complex set of options incomparable to those of the competition.

Main application window does not reveal a thing about the plethora of configuration options you can customize RichCopy with and all you can see are the source and target boxes, a minimalist toolbar featuring the buttons that start the process, pause or cancel it, cut/copy/paste functions for text or log resetting.

But the hardcore settings are available under Copy options, available under Destination button or from Action menu. These really make RichCopy stand out from the crowd. One of the best things is that you can make customized adjustments according to the task at hand and preserve them all under multiple profiles.

Unlike all other file copying managers on the market RichCopy puts at your disposal different options to perform the action. Each transfer can have its own method, mode, take place at a user-defined time and date or filter the files according to their various attributes (security, size, timestamp) or availability in destination.

One of the most important aspects in RichCopy is that it comes with a multi-threaded method to carry out the file copying, which is also configurable. Thus you can set the number of threads for directory and file copying according to how the files are hosted and the folder structure.

During our testing we used the 10-10-1 values in the Thread number area mainly because we did not use complex folder structure to raise the bar above 10 threads and 10 threads per file copied makes for an effective process without putting stress on system resources.

More process control is available in the application, letting you set the cache size for file copy and search. The top limit for copy is 4MB while for search the maximum is 10 000. Tinkering with these values has to be done carefully and you should not exaggerate and up everything to the level best because you risk extreme usage of system resources. Also, the recommended file copy thread number is 1 and during our testing the application worked best with this value as raising it to 2 generated an error message saying that there wasn't enough storage to complete the operation.

Process Control area of the Options menu also features process priority leveling so that you can set your CPU to award RichCopy process with more attention. There are 6 levels available, which correspond to those in Task Manager: Low, Below Normal, Normal, Above Normal, High and Realtime. Leaving this to mid-level ensures smooth functioning without raising CPU usage too much.

If all this was not convincing enough, RichCopy will win power users over with the palette of settings offered with regard to file attributes, error handling, which files to be included and which to be excluded.

You can choose the information to be copied (file attributes, timestamp), security information (group, owner, system access control list) or set the files to a specified date (only for files, folders are not included). Further options permit setting attributes to copied files, such as read only, hidden, system, archive, compressed, temporary, encrypted or offline as well as choose the ones to remove.

The copy process can be cancelled after a user-defined number of retries as well as by a number of errors that occur. The list of errors is quite a large one (I stopped counting at 100 and the vertical slider seemed to be in the same place) and includes scenarios where the system cannot find the file or path specified, the file cannot be opened, access is denied, media is write-protected, data error, disk is full, or lack of connection to the network.

RichCopy provides a wide range of options when it comes to filtering the data to be copied. Everything can be found under files to be included/excluded from the process. You have the possibility to filter the files by attributes, creation date, last write date and last access date. The same options are available for directory copying.

More tinkering can be done in Others section of the same Options panel which lets you set a command before and after completing copy process, provide credentials for transfers from an FTP location (only passive mode is supported) and choose the operations you want to log.

Our first experience with RichCopy did not go that well because the application was not properly configured and kept hitting with error messages saying that there was not enough space on the target drive. However, the target drive had free space more than twice the size of the files to be copied. The problem proved to be the file copy thread count, which was set above the 1 threshold.

Besides its file filtering capabilities, which are absolutely awesome, RichCopy's use of multithreading speeds up the transfers quite a bit, thus reducing the time to complete the process. Our tests showed that the same set of files were copied with Windows solution of file copying in about half the time RichCopy did (Windows took 2'27'' for 487MB while RichCopy's record was 1'09'')

One thing is for sure: RichCopy is not for the average user, even if it is extremely easy to configure it and the flexibility of its options are quite impressing. There is plenty of fiddling to be done and the support for multiple profiles that store different settings adds another advantage to the app.

The Good

RichCopy brings a simple interface to your attention that is easy to deal with and a plethora of settings to filter the files to be processed, copy them with different attributes or check for differences before starting the operation.

You can also set a timer to starting the operation, which actually is a schedule to start at a specific date and time and no sooner. The granular control it provides is fantastic and once properly configured to your needs it works like a charm.

RichCopy can also be used to copy files on/to FTP locations as long as connection does not require passive mode.

The Bad

Making the wrong settings can lead to complications such as too much stress on computer resources and even error messages and refusal to initiate the procedure although everything on both destination and source appears to be just fine.

The Truth

RichCopy is not a tool for every user, that's for sure. The level of control offered is too much for the average Joe. But power users will find a great tool for speeding up transfers and re-initiating them from the last file copied in case the connection is broken.

The granular control offered covers everything from filtering files and directories by attributes, error handling options, attribute changing, copy operation scheduling and changing timestamp to setting the number of threads and cache size to be used.

For power users who need to copy operations from network locations RichCopy makes for the perfect companion with a huge set of customization options.

Here are some snapshots of the application in action:

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user interface 4
features 5
ease of use 5
pricing / value 5

final rating 5
Editor's review
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