I tried to get robocopy in Windows 7 to generate a Unicode log, since I have files with Unicode characters. The command I used:

robocopy C:\mysource D:\mydest /mir /unilog:backup.log /tee

File the copy works and the onscreen output is correct, the log file itself just contains gibberish. This is regardless of whether I use the Command Prompt or the Powershell.

What gives? Am I doing something wrong?


7 Answers 7


Bug in XP27. Try downgrade to XP26.

It appears to be a bug in the XP27 version of RoboCopy (which comes with Windows 7).

In version XP26 (which comes with Windows Vista) /UNILOG produces a perfectly readable Unicode log file for me.

If you don't have a copy of Vista laying around EasyRoboCopy also comes with the XP26 version. (I haven't actually tried EasyRoboCopy itself, just extracted robocopy.exe out of its setup file using WinRAR.)


At a glance, I'd say the file written by Robocopy while using the /UNILOG and /TEE switches contains a UTF-16 little-endian byte order mark followed by an ISO-8859-1 terminal typescript.

To make it readable, I did the following in Ubuntu:

dd if=robocopy.log ibs=1 skip=2 obs=512        | # Strip the byte order mark
  iconv --from-code ISO-8859-1 --to-code UTF-8 | # Convert to UTF-8
  col -b > robocopy_utf-8.log                    # Interpret control characters

The resulting file matches what I saw in the Windows command prompt.

Further reading: man dd, man iconv, man col

  • Any way to do similar conversion in windows? I have tried this conversion in pipe in PowerShell, but with no success:([System.Text.Encoding]::Unicode).GetString([System.Text.Encoding]::Convert([System.Text.Encoding]::GetEncoding(28591), [System.Text.Encoding]::Unicode, ([System.Text.Encoding]::GetEncoding(28591)).GetBytes($_))) Apr 28, 2013 at 8:26
  • This works!!!!!
    – Corey
    Nov 13, 2013 at 3:17

Looking at the (binary) file output on Win7, the /UNILOG option is useless. It writes the standard UNICODE BOM (FFFE), but then proceeds to write all narrow characters EXCEPT for the options line (e.g., /BYTES /S /COPY:DATS ...), which is actual unicode. After that, it reverts back to ANSI chars, and it is not UTF-8, either; i.e., if you have a filename with a wide character in the path, it is converted to a narrow '?' character.

Apparently no interest in fixing it from MSFT, since it's been this way for some time, and I have all updates.

  • There is no such thing as "actual unicode" encoding. Did you mean UTF-16/UCS-2? It's MS fault to boot for naming this "unilog" in the first place...
    – Nas Banov
    Oct 19, 2016 at 22:53

I fixed my unreadable, Unicode-format Robocopy log files in Windows (which were accidentally created by appending normal Robocopy output to Unicode output from Out-File in PowerShell), as follows:

In PowerShell:

$bytes = [System.IO.File]::ReadAllBytes('C:\Temp\RoboCopyLog.txt')
$len = $bytes.Length
#Remove the Unicode BOM, and convert to ASCII
$text = [System.Text.Encoding]::ASCII.GetString($bytes,2,$len -2)

The above code may not work for all file sizes!

(Credit for code: I adapted code from this post by Ferdinand Prantl: Stackoverflow - Read/Parse Binary files with PowerShell

  • This works if the output doesn't contain Unicode characters; otherwise, those characters are converted to ASCII.
    – curropar
    Nov 5, 2018 at 12:26

Use UTF-8 code page, then run winword converter

If your file or directory names contain Unicode characters then before issuing the Robocopy command with the /unilog parameter use the chcp 65001 command. (Code page 65001 is UTF-8.)

Once you have the mangled Unicode log, just open it up in MS Word as Unicode (UTF-8) and save it:

MS Word File Conversion Dialog


In your case, the command in Powershell goes something like this:

robocopy C:\mysource D:\mydest /mir | Out-File backup.log

The workaround is that you use Out-File instead of built-in /unilog parameter. You will get exactly the same log file, but now it will be properly written in unicode.

  • 4
    Sure it will be unicode, but there will be no special unicode characters. It's just ASCII output translated to unicode. Apr 28, 2013 at 7:17

Run the chcp command before robocopy command, with the right code page.

for UTF-8 (not working with robocopy & Hebrew and maybe more languages):

chcp 65001 | Out-Null

for Hebrew:

chcp 1255 | Out-Null 

Full code page list: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/desktop/intl/code-page-identifiers

  • Does not work for robocopy /log switch Sep 9, 2020 at 9:41

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