When copying large numbers of files in one sweep, windows requires quite some time to prepare the copy? The same happens when deleting large amounts of files. What is happening here? What preparations are going on there?
It builds the list of all files in the current folder and its subfolders and logs the changes that will be made to the files in a journal. That's necessary because of the way that NTFS works.
Some use cases of that list include:
If that's annoying you can always use xcopy or robocopy via command prompt for large number of file operations.
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To my knowledge Windows checks that it Can dó what you ask for ALL files. This means that e.g. locked files are found up front instead of halfway through causing an incomplete result.