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Why is it that whenever I copy a movie or any other multi gigabyte file to an USB stick my top-notch system (Quadcore, 8 GB Ram) becomes unresponsive due to heavy disk activity?

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Give TeraCopy a try:

TeraCopy] is a compact program designed to copy and move files at the maximum possible speed, providing the user a lot of features:

  • Copy files faster. TeraCopy uses dynamically adjusted buffers to reduce seek times. Asynchronous copy speeds up file transfer between two physical hard drives.
  • Pause and resume file transfers. Pause copy process at any time to free up system resources and continue with a single click.
  • Error recovery. In case of copy error, TeraCopy will try several times and in the worse case just skips the file, not terminating the entire transfer.
  • Interactive file list. TeraCopy shows failed file transfers and lets you fix the problem and recopy only problem files.
  • Shell integration. TeraCopy can completely replace Explorer copy and move functions, allowing you work with files as usual.
  • Full Unicode support.

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This may help. I had a bad disk where system copies kept erroring and copying invalid data, and it was able to copy until it came off clean. But in XP, teracopy v2 crashed a lot for me. Use v1, pay attention to its log, and turn off "close on exit" to be sure it completed successfully and didn't crash. – Anonymous Jan 17 '10 at 22:17
I have been using Teracopy for a while also. There was an issue with Teracopy v2 BETA, I ended up going back to v1. I have been using v2 for the last couple of months and they seemed to have gotten rid of the issues that were there previously. I would say use v2 as it has a lot of improvements and only downgrade if you run into problems. – Marcin Jan 17 '10 at 22:24
@Marcin: thanks for the report on v2's stability; I'll have to try it out. – Anonymous Jan 17 '10 at 22:27
Thanks I'll give it a try. – Oliver Weichhold Jan 19 '10 at 12:18

It might be a hardware problem. A good thing to try would be to boot from a Linux LiveCD and try to copy the exact same file from the same source to the same destination. If you see the system become unresponsive then you know its a hardware issue, otherwise it's either a problem with one of your drivers, the OS, or another program you have installed. Some virus scanners that do active scanning have the possibility of slowing your system down as they scan every single file being transferred for viruses adding to the I/O overhead. I guess it could also be some kind of caching issue although more information would have to be gathered to diagnose that.

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