I am on Windows XP and I am trying to copy a folder from my desktop to my external hard drive. Both drives are formatted NTFS. When I try to copy and paste the folder, I get an error message pop-up, 'cannot copy file:' with the title header 'error copying file or folder'; no explanation is given as to why the folder can't be copied.

  • Can you copy the file to a different location (not to the external drive?)
    – Serodis
    Jan 4, 2012 at 0:04
  • Yeah i agree with Serodis, try copying it to either a different external drive, or another location on your local disk (or another local disk if you have one). It almost sounds like it might be an issue with one of the files in your copy, or with your source disk. but this will help us determine that. Jan 4, 2012 at 0:18
  • I got the same error when I tried to copy the folder to another location on my local disk
    – user701510
    Jan 4, 2012 at 0:32

1 Answer 1


Most likely there is a problematic file, or problematic portion of the disk that is causing this error then. i would suggest running a chkdsk on the machine, which might fix a problematic file issue. And MIGHT be able to correct a minor disk error.

How to run Chkdsk from My Computer or from Windows Explorer

  1. Double-click My Computer, and then right-click the hard disk that you want to check.
  2. Click Properties, and then click Tools.
  3. Under Error-checking, click Check Now. A dialog box that shows the Check disk options is displayed,
  4. Use one of the following procedures:

To run Chkdsk in read-only mode, click Start.

To repair errors without scanning the volume for bad sectors, select the Automatically fix file system errors check box, and then click Start.

To repair errors, locate bad sectors, and recover readable information, select the Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box, and then click Start. Note If one or more of the files on the hard disk are open, you will receive the following message:

The disk check could not be performed because the disk check utility needs exclusive access to some Windows files on the disk. These files can be accessed by restarting Windows. Do you want to schedule the disk check to occur the next time you restart the computer?

Click Yes to schedule the disk check, and then restart your computer to start the disk check.

I would recommend Running it to repair errors and locate bad sectors in this case.

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