While it's fast (less than 2 minutes) I hate having to copy files from PC #1 onto a USB stick, and then manually popping it in PC #2 to copy the files to PC #2.

Dropbox is too slow in uploading and then downloading 2GBs (synching), it could take hours.

Copying 2GBs over the network is also slow because we're dealing with 10,000 little files that totals 2GBs, and not just one, giant 2gb file. Not sure why, but dealing with 10,000 little files makes the copy process much longer.

Is there any other method that I'm missing? Any ideas? I'm using Win7 on both PCs.

Edit: These files change every single night.

  • Is most of the transfer original data, or are you transferring a lot of redundant data that already exists on the target system? If the latter, then something like rsync or deltacopy would reduce the amount of data that needs to be transferred and speed up the sync process. Apr 8, 2012 at 18:20

14 Answers 14


Two thoughts:

1) Reconsider Dropbox. After installing it, check preferences and ensure that the checkbox for "Enable LAN Sync" is checked. It'll then go direct to the two machines.

2) If you don't mind a command line, robocopy /mir would be a fast and easy way to do this with a quick batch file. The /mir argument tells it to make the destination target look like the source -- it won't copy stuff that hasn't changed so can dramatically speed up those copies.

  • 3
    With robocopy, the /mt flag will use multiple threads for copying, significantly lowering the copy time. At work, we regularly copy much, much larger sets of data with many more files, and robocopy is our tool of choice, especially with /mt. Apr 5, 2012 at 18:34
  • 4
    It's not pretty but disabling the real time checking in your anti-virus will speed up file copying a lot.
    – Richard
    Apr 5, 2012 at 18:50
  • 1
    It'll then go direct to the two machines --> this is partly wrong, afaik. Dropbox first uploads the file to their servers, and only when that's complete do other computers start getting it (by LAN sync if possible). So you won't be downloading 2GB from the internet, but you'll still be uploading it. On the other hand, Dropbox has pretty good binary diff support, so if the files don't change too much it might still be fast enough.
    – houbysoft
    Apr 6, 2012 at 1:15
  • 1
    I think you're right houbysoft. Here's a link I found from a Dropbox moderator saying as much: forums.dropbox.com/topic.php?id=16070. So, uploading 2GB to Dropbox's server is still much slower than just using a USB stick.
    – MrPatterns
    Apr 6, 2012 at 13:17
  • Once. (10 chars)
    – Chris_K
    Apr 6, 2012 at 15:24

You could check out Deltacopy which is an rsync implementation for Windows, freely available under the GPLv3. It's automated and supports incremental backup.


Many individual file accesses will be slower than accessing one (or a few) large file(s). USB flash drives often have horrible access times, which compounds the problem. Here are a couple possible solutions:

  1. If many of the files don't change, you could use a file sync tool such as Unison, SyncToy, Robocopy, SyncBack, etc.
  2. If you usually do have a lot of changed files, you could store all the files in a TrueCrypt volume, which is an encrypted file container that you mount as a disk. Then you'll only be copying a single large file to PC#2 (and these days, it only takes a few seconds to copy a single 2 GB file).

Copying over a gigabit or 10Gb LAN (local area network) will probably be the fastest and most convenient transfer method, aside from storing the files on an external drive on PC#1 and connecting the external drive to PC#2 for the file copy operation.

  • +1 But it should be pointed out that storing all the files in a TrueCrypt volume would generally work against using a sync utility for smart file copying (unless frequently none of the individual files changed).
    – martineau
    Apr 5, 2012 at 18:25
  • 1
    Actually they were two separate suggestions, but I guess I wasn't very clear on that. Thanks; I'll clarify it a little better :)
    – rob
    Apr 5, 2012 at 20:27
  • With a lot of changed files, this is what tar was designed for. It should be faster than TrueCrypt, too.
    – Bob
    Apr 6, 2012 at 1:36
  • @Bob: If the disk accesses are what's slowing things down, tar won't speed that up. In terms of raw performance, copying a 2 GB file container (which already contains all 10,000 files) will be faster than creating a 2 GB tar archive from the same 10,000.
    – rob
    Apr 6, 2012 at 4:41

Actually 2GB over a modern network should be quite fast. It's all the small files that is the problem.

I suggest you have an automated script that does this:

  1. compress all files into a single archive on PC #1
  2. Copy the archive over your network onto PC #2
  3. uncompressed archive on PC #2

Uncompressing archives should be plenty speedy on a moderate computer. For scripting purposes you can use a combination of batch files, folder monitors, etc.

Simple solution, but should work well.


You don't specify if the PCs are on a wired or wireless network. If you're using wireless, plug them both into ethernet ports on your router.

If your router is inaccessible or doesn't have ethernet ports, buy a cheap ethernet hub or switch. Even if the switch isn't connected to your main network, you can configure the wired network adaptors your PCs on a different network than their wireless adaptors.

And then look again at Dropbox's "Enable LAN Sync" as suggested by Chris_K


I would look at something like Goodsync. If it's automated it's irrelevant if it's slow.


Use SyncToy 2.1 (it copies only files that have been modified) and schedule the task. The files must be manually synched before you use the first time; use 'echo.'



Check out this comment to a related Lifehacker article that suggests using Windows' "Offline Files" feature to quickly sync multiple files between computers.


If both computers have bluetooth you could try pairing them


Download windows live mesh from windows live essentials installer . And create an window live id ,they will provide 25 gb free online space for sharing and storage called Skydrive . Now share the specific folder of your documents or files in to online storage .

And the other end you can use same login id ( you have to configure the settings to enable multiple login option in your account settings. ) And just turn on the Windows live mesh on both computers and login then start the synch process over night.


Use USB to USB data transfer cable , Its easy and faster then other method


No one has mentioned TeraCopy, so I will offer it here. It will read files into memory staying ahead of the curve for the write requirements. You can often reach peak performance if you're going to and from different disks. If you are copying over the network, your saturation will be based on the weakest link in the network and how much congestion and/or disk activity either drives have. If the two computers are left to perform this single task with no one on the network, you can typically reach maximum network throughput. There are similar copy programs around, but I find this to be the most polished: http://codesector.com/teracopy

  • 1
    Your answer appears to be truncated, so can you complete it? Also, can you add a link to the TeraCopy website and provide a description of the program?
    – bwDraco
    Oct 11, 2012 at 5:18

Set up the two computers in a Home Group, and then use SyncBack (freeware) which is networking aware. Not super fast, but by using the Syncback Mirroring option only the new or changed files will be transferred. SyncBack will also do that job on a schedule.


Consider using an ethernet crossover cable. If you can't physically connect both devices, use FTP over WLAN.

  • Your answer could be improved with additional supporting information. Please edit to add further details, such as citations or documentation, so that others can confirm that your answer is correct. You can find more information on how to write good answers in the help center.
    – Community Bot
    Sep 29, 2022 at 10:42
  • That does not answer the question, which is about software not the network or cable Sep 29, 2022 at 11:25
  • @RohitGupta Is it about software though? Seems to me that the question "What's the fastest and automatic way to transfer 2GB of data between 2 PCs every night?" doesn't specify it's about software. Sep 29, 2022 at 11:40

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.