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I have a lot of files that I often search for based on creation date.

When I copy files from my old computer to the new one, all of my creation dates are set to the current time (i.e. I lose the original creation date).

How can I copy files between the two system that keeps the original date attributes (creation/modified/accessed)?

I have looked at 7-zip, but it does not appear to keep the creation date attribute, which is the one most needed.

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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The robocopy command preserves all three dates (created, modified, accessed).

The syntax is:

       Usage :: ROBOCOPY source destination [file [file]...] [options]

      source :: Source Directory (drive:\path or \\server\share\path).
 destination :: Destination Dir  (drive:\path or \\server\share\path).
        file :: File(s) to copy  (names/wildcards: default is "*.*").

For the full syntax, execute robocopy /?.

robocopy comes with all recent versions of Windows. However, if you don't feel comfortable using the command line, you can download the Utility Spotlight Robocopy GUI from Microsoft TechNet.

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this is an excelent answer; I'm wondering would using a 'briefcase' also work, as it would essentially create a 'miror' for the file this is not the perfect solution and bested by your just wondering on options though as I believe the briefcase would just clone the file. –  Iceking007 Feb 25 '12 at 5:18
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While robocopy preserves the created, modified, and accessed dates, there are a few problems that still remain:

  1. This is only done for files and not for folders (the main one, see poing #2, and the subfolders, so basically, all folders).

  2. There is no way to copy the original / head / starting folder, other than by creating it first and then copying the files and subfolders in it. Therefore, one is unable to preserve the dates for the starting folder. I do believe I remember reading something about excluding everything else from being copied from the level / directory except the folder that one wants to copy, but though it should work, doesn't seem practical.

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Using 7zip 9.20 or higher with tc=on (use -mtc=on on the command-line) in the parameters field helps preserve the creation time. Admittedly I actually haven't tried to restore yet to see if it preserves it. However, you can check that the creation time is preserved when you open the archive to inspect the contents.

If you want to be 100% sure, I offer that xxcopy works perfectly (think robocopy on steroids). It preserves all the timestamps, including access/modified/creation time, for files and folders. Best of all it's free for personal use. The necessary switch is: /tc

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