How to move lots of data easily and smoothly on your PC

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Something I used to dread: copying a large amount of data from one location to another.  For example, a 1500-song music collection from a computer’s hard drive to an external drive.  Or 100 folders with 50 gb of high-resolution photos from a portable drive to a new computer.  When you have to move a big chunk of data like that in Windows, there is a very good probability that something will go wrong.



Here is what usually happens.  You will start the process either by dragging the data from one folder to another or by the copy + paste method.  The copying progress window opens, and when you click on the “More details” button it tells you that the process is going to take a few hours.  So you just let it go about doing what it needs to do while you go do something else.  For me, I often let jobs like this happen overnight so that it will be done in the morning.

But the unpleasant surprise happens when you come back to the computer a few hours later, or the following morning, when it’s supposed to be all done.  Rather than seeing that the process completed successfully, you instead see an error message that says some specific file in some random folder was unable to be copied.  Which means that the copying process STOPPED at that point and didn’t copy over any more data after that.

I find this incredibly frustrating.

This error message could have popped up 10 minutes after you walked away from the computer, so all that time you thought it was working is now wasted time.

Not only that, but you probably don’t even know where this file is that was not able to be copied.  It might be a few “sub-folders” down, which means the only way to find it is to have your computer do a search through that 50 gb of data.  And what if you have several files or folders by that same name?  How do you know which one caused the interruption?



This is something that you would expect Microsoft would have fixed by now.  And to be fair, the file copy process in Windows 8 is a big improvement over previous versions (in fact, that is one of the very few things that are actually good about Windows 8).  But most of us don’t use Windows 8.  We use Windows 7 (or at least that’s what we SHOULD be using).

Now there is a solution for the rest of us:  Teracopy.  Get it at  It’s free for personal use



Teracopy solves the problems mentioned above, and has some other features as well.

From their website:

TeraCopy features

When you first install and run TeraCopy, you will see a window like this:

TeraCopy window

As you can see, you can drag any files to the top part of the window, and in the “target folder” field you can designate where you want them to go.  If you click the “More” button you get a bigger window with more options:


However, that is not how I have been using it.

One of the features listed (above) is “Shell integration”.  This just means you can copy and paste like you always have in the past, but instead of using the traditional copy/paste function built into Windows, you will be copying and pasting with TeraCopy.  So I have just been doing my standard “Ctrl + C” and “Ctrl + V” and TeraCopy does its job seamlessly.

I recently used this to copy about 138 gb of data from an external drive to a laptop drive.  It worked beautifully!  I saw the details of the process as it was happening – which individual file was being copied at any given time, where that file was originally located, and the progress (expressed as a percentage) in a progress bar as it happened.

TeraCopy is free for personal use, and if you want to use it commercially you can get a license for just $19.95.  The commercial version also comes with w few more features.  Most people will probably be fine with the free, personal version.

Note: while you are at the TeraCopy website, you might want to check out some of their other products – they have some interesting programs, as well as some smartphone apps that you might find useful.  Sorry Mac users – looks like all of their products are for Windows or Android.

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July 13th, 2013

TeraCopy — what a great piece of software! It’s the first time I have ever been able to Copy and Paste a bunch of selected folders and RETAIN the original folder date! Love it.

Thanks, Scott.