How to copy or move files and folders whilst maintaining their original time date stamp.

It’s often useful when try to replicate live file data to maintain the date/time stamp of the data you are copying or moving.  As you no doubt know a standard copy whether it be from the command line or by a simple drag and drop will give any copied/moved files a new date/time stamp of the current time.

A simple way of maintaining the original date/time stamp of a file or folder is by using the ever useful  Microsoft RoboCopy utility.  This is built into Windows Server 2008, Vista and Windows 7 as standard though if you are running an earlier Windows OS (eg: XP or Windows Server 2003) it can be found, and used, as part of the Windows Server 2003 Resource Toolkit which can be downloaded from here. 

However I should point out that the useful ‘DCOPY’ command which maintains the date/timestamp of the directories is only available with the versions of Robocopy found after that in the Windows Server 2003 Resource Toolkit (ie: > XP010).

For the ‘DCOPY’ command you will require the XP026 version of Robocopy which can only be found in a Microsoft Utility called ‘Utility Spotlight’ which provides a GUI front-end to Robocopy and can be downloaded via a link at the top of this page.  Don’t worry as you don’t have to use the GUI interface.

Also if you’re running Windows Server 2003 then you’ll find that the Vista and Windows Server 2008 versions won’t run if you copy and then attempt to run this version of robocopy.exe locally.

If you’ve already downloaded and installed the Windows Server 2003 Resource ToolKit and then Utility Spotlight (GUI Robocopy) you will find that you’ll still get the XP010 version of Robocopy when running it from the command-line.

The reason?  The Utility Spotlight installation copies the updated (ie: XP026) version of Robocopy to the C:WindowsSystem32 directory as opposed to the version found in the ‘Resource Toolkit’ directory on the C drive.  When Robocopy is run from the command-line it uses the version (ie: XP010) found in the ‘Resource Toolkit’ directory.

To resolve…  delete the version of Robocopy found in the ‘Resource Toolkit’ found on the C drive.  When you go to run Robocopy from the command-line again it’ll use the more recent version found in C:WindowsSystem32.

Here is a summary of the different versions:

  • XP010 – Bundled in the Windows 2003 resource kit
  • XP026 – Downloaded with Robocopy GUI
  • XP027 – Bundled with Windows Vista
  • XP028 – Bundled with Windows Vista SP1 and Windows Server 2008

Below is an example of the Robocopy syntax that you’d use to maintain the date/time stamp on both the files and directories during a copy:

How to copy or move files and folders whilst maintaining their original time date stamp

For a good explanation of all the Robocopy commands checkout this Wikipedia entry.


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16 Comments on "How to copy or move files and folders whilst maintaining their original time date stamp."

2 years 23 days ago

How could i move files and folders which is in “Work1″ folder, to “Work2″ folder along with folder structure by checking the “last-modified-date”. It should scan whole files and foldres in Work1 and should move automatically the file folders to Work2 if the file folders date is 45 days older than current date.

Please help me for this. I got more than 50K files in my Work1 folder, out of that 25% files are working presently. I dont want to delete old files, i’ll keep it as backup.

2 years 1 month ago

Cheers for this explanation, very helpful

2 years 6 months ago

Thanks very much, this was very useful on directory timestamps.

2 years 7 months ago

Upload rebocopy.exe !!!! XP028

2 years 8 months ago

It’s simple to move folders and directories and still preserving Creation Date. Just hold “shift” and drag the folder to the new location (move command). Date Modified will be the present date but Date Created will retain the original date. hope this helps.

2 years 8 months ago

Good tip – thanks.