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I notice a significant performence difference when I copy files from External Hard Drive to my MacBook compared to copy files through Terminal.app. The non-Terminal method is 2-3X faster. I am copying the same files, with the same source and destination.

  1. Why is there a difference between the two methods?

  2. Can I add any arguments to terminal.app copy command to make it go faster.

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1 Answer 1

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There is no such setting in the cp command. I'm not sure what would cause the speed difference you observed. Interesting.

Multi-threading has to do with parallel processing on the CPU, which is not a bottleneck for copying files. What slows down copying is the seeking, reading and writing of files from the physical hardware, and this is part of the process in both the terminal and the GUI. You can't speed this up through software.

When you use a smarter copy program like rsync, it's possible to speed it up by ignoring files that don't need to be copied. You can also use it with the -z flag to turn on zip compression, but this is only helpful when copying over the network.

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