Having trouble copying files from CDs?

The COPY and XCOPY commands save the day.

I’ve encountered an odd phenomenon regarding reading of CD-ROMs on a Windows Vista (Home Premium edition) computer. I’m copying thousands of archived files from a customer’s set of CD-ROM disks to his new Windows Vista computer. Some of the CD-ROMs are in bad shape, and using Vista’s Windows Explorer either fails or copies only a few files from certain folders. (Occasionally Windows Explorer crashes with a C library runtime fault. Huh?! I’ve never seen this with earlier versions of Windows. But I digress . . .)

They must use different routines
I discovered that using the command line COPY and XCOPY commands copied more files than Windows Explorer. These commands are slow, but definitely result in more successful CD-ROM reads. Why? All that I can think of is that the 16-bit CD-ROM access driver that’s used by the command line is completely separate from the 32-bit routines that are used by Windows Vista and Windows Explorer. My guess is that Microsoft has borrowed the 16-bit CD-ROM access code from MS-DOS for use by Vista’s command line.

If you’re experiencing difficulty in copying files from a CD-ROM to your Microsoft Windows computer’s hard drive, try the COPY — and especially the XCOPY — command.

Here’s how:

Click Start
At the Run prompt, Enter CMD.   (and press Enter)

(A window will open.)
Use the COPY command, with the general form: COPY SOURCE DESTINATION


The XCOPY command has more parameters to change its behavior than the COPY command. If you need to copy multiple files, use XCOPY’s /C parameter. It tells XCOPY to continue copying, even after it encounters an error. Here’s a sample command:

XCOPY D:\DOCS\*.* C:\DOCS\*.* /C

You may never need to restore files from flaky CD-ROMs, but if you do, this trick may help. Oh — if you think that CD-ROMs (and DVDs) last forever, think again: over time, oxidation erodes the metallic substrate that’s sandwiched between the clear plastic. These CD-ROMs are about five years old, and some show oxidation with a few “holes” in the metallic substrate, meaning that the data that resided there is gone forever.


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