Have you ever tried copying a bunch of files to another drive and been frustrated by how slow the process was? This can be especially noticeable with USB flash drives. One way to make copying go much faster is to copy one large file instead of many small ones. So use this trick – put all your files in a single archive (zip) file and copy that. But don’t use the Windows zip function to create the archive. It’s much too slow. Use a free program like 7-Zip, which is much faster.
Once they are copied, you can unzip the files on the new location if you wish. However, for many purposes you can leave the files archived and access them when necessary with Windows Explorer or the 7-Zip file manager.
To illustrate how much time you save this way, here are some numbers that I got when I copied a 316 MB folder with 12, 904 files to a USB flash drive:
- To copy the files the standard way took just under 22 minutes
- To copy a single archived file (145 MB) – 1 minute, 32 seconds to create the archive and 33 seconds to copy.
Naturally, these numbers are specific to my setup with a fast Windows 7 computer and a particular USB 2.0 configuration but they give an idea of the time that can be saved.
Copying files over a network has its own set of problems with slowness. There are numerous posts in Microsoft Technet forums and there is a summary at this link,
If your copying involves multiple gigabytes, consider one of the free programs discussed at Gizmo’s Best Free File Copy Utility.
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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.