Category Archives: Windows

Xxcopy vs Robocopy

Part of being a system administrator is copying large quantities of files around, for any number of reasons. The traditional tools for this, Copy and Xcopy, have some limitations. For this reason, two companies extended Xcopy: Microsoft, with Robocopy, and Pixelab, with Xxcopy. Let’s compare Xxcopy vs Robocopy.

Microsoft includes Robocopy with recent versions of Windows. Even when it wasn’t included, you could get it as part of the Windows Resource Kit. Xxcopy is commercial software.

Xxcopy advantages

Xxcopy’s advantages are its similarity to Xcopy and its simpicity. I most frequently used its /clone switch, like this: xxcopy /clone source destination

So if you’ve just installed a new hard drive and want to move your old one to the new one, do this:

xxcopy /clone e:\ f:\

And then you can swap the drives.

The /backup switch is safer than /clone, as it doesn’t delete any files. Since I normally used it for one-time copies to blank media, there was no perceptible difference between the two.

It really just is an extended Xcopy. Sub in something more powerful for /s and off you go.

Xxcopy disadvantages

I stopped using Xxcopy when it stopped being free for commercial use several years ago. But it worked just fine then, and presumably still works just fine now, if you’re willing to pay for it or qualify for a free license.

Some organizations won’t approve third-party software without jumping through a lot of hoops, or at all. It may very well be easier to learn Robocopy than to install Xxcopy.

Robocopy advantages

Robocopy is just there, if you’re running a fairly modern version of Windows. It’s part of the operating system, so you won’t need any approvals, and there’s nothing to download or install. That’s a huge political advantage in most companies.

I also think Robocopy’s restart capabilities with the /z switch are a bit better if the copy gets interrupted. That was the reason I started using it.

Robocopy disadvantages

I have no idea why Microsoft changed the syntax. It’s robocopy source destination files. Well, I kind of understand. Perhaps it’s more powerful this way. But it’s a lot more confusing. It’s almost as bad as the infamous PIP command.

It’s very easy to delete files you don’t mean to delete, and to copy a bunch of stuff where you don’t intend to.

If Xcopy is a hand saw, Robocopy is a power saw with no safety features on it. If you’re a little bit afraid of it, that’s good. It means your brain works. To continue the analogy, Xxcopy is a power saw with some safety features.

That said, you can put safety features on it. The problem is you have to put the safety features on yourself.


Cleaning the Windows registry – and optimizing

Cleaning the Windows registry is a popular and controversial topic. Many pundits tell you never to do it. When I wrote a book about Windows back in 1999, I dedicated most of one chapter to the topic. But today the pundits have a point. Most registry cleaning utilities do much more harm than good. I don’t recommend you clean your registry, per se, but I do recommend you maintain it.

I don’t want to dismiss the concept completely out of hand. There’s a difference between a bad idea and a bad implementation. Registry cleaning and maintenance is a victim of bad implementation. But that doesn’t mean it was a bad idea. So let’s talk about how to get the benefit while minimizing the drawbacks.

Continue reading Cleaning the Windows registry – and optimizing

Optimize Windows 10

When I first installed it, I thought it was pretty pointless to try to optimize Windows 10. Of course, I installed it from scratch on a computer with an SSD and 16 gigs of RAM. Then I upgraded a couple of computers from Windows 7 to Windows 10, and I started to see why some people might not like Windows 10 all that much.

Upgraded systems almost always run slow, but I’d forgotten how much slower. And while you didn’t have to do much to Windows 7 to make it fast–that’s one reason people liked it–I find there are some things you can do to pep up Windows 10.
Continue reading Optimize Windows 10

Fix a Windows boot loop with AHCI

My wife’s computer was stuck in a Windows boot loop. We’d get the Windows 7 boot screen, and it would display a single pixel of the Windows 7 logo, then reboot itself endlessly.

Any number of things can cause this, but in our case, enabling AHCI turned out to be the fix. Enabling AHCI also can be easier said than done, but I figured it out. She’s running Windows 7 (for now) but these same tricks should also work for Windows 10.

Continue reading Fix a Windows boot loop with AHCI

Convert a list of hostnames to a list of IP addresses

I had a client with a huge list of hostnames that they needed to convert to IP addresses so they could scan them. That’s common. I used to have a Windows batch file to convert a list of hostnames to a list of IP addresses, so I dug it out of my archives. This isn’t like a ping sweep; they knew the machine names but their tool needed IPs.

I used the file to resolve lists of machines so I could load them into a centralized logging or vulnerability management system. This client had the same need and nobody there had a similar tool. So I shared mine with them. And I present it here so I won’t lose it again, and if you need it, you can use it too.

Continue reading Convert a list of hostnames to a list of IP addresses

Fix a Device Manager Code 43 error

Sometimes computer peripherals stop working in Windows, and you’ll start to troubleshoot and find a code 43 error. Here’s how to fix a Device Manager Code 43 error without compromising on security.

There’s a lot of bad advice out there on code 43 errors since it’s not very well documented. I started my career as a computer technician and now I work in security, so this is a comfortable topic for me. I want your computer to work, but I also want it to be secure.

Continue reading Fix a Device Manager Code 43 error

Check your network speed in Windows 10

Sometimes you need to check your network speed in Windows 10. The information buried a bit but you can get there in about three clicks. When you need to know the raw specs of your network connection, here’s how to do it.

Depending on your network driver, it was sometimes easier to get this in previous versions of Windows. Sometimes all you had to do was hover over your network connection icon. But this method also works in Windows 7, even if you have a featureless network driver.

Continue reading Check your network speed in Windows 10

System restore from command prompt

Sometimes a Windows computer is so broken that you have to run system restore from the command prompt. If you’re reading this, I don’t have to elaborate. This works in Windows 7, Windows 10, and any other recent version.

And when a system is that broken, you can expect to run into a couple of snags. Maybe you can’t even get a command prompt. Or maybe you got a command prompt but the executable file is buried. Here’s how to solve those two problems. Continue reading System restore from command prompt