How to copy an entire folder structure without copying the files (tip for starting the new financial year)

Here’s my tip to start the financial year off with some organisation. If you save your important files in a folder structure per financial year, then you will be ready to create that new folder for the new tax year. To save time and keep your filing structure consistent you can quickly copy the entire structure (including all subfolders) with the following technique. Using this technique, only the folder structure is copied (not the actual files). So you will be up and going with your new folder structure for the tax year and continue filing.

Here’s a simplified version of what my filing structure looks like:

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Now simply create your new folder (under which you want to duplicate the folder structure)

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Now open a Windows command window and run the following command. It’s the /T option that copies just the folder structure not the files. You can also use the /E option to include  empty folders in the copy (by default empty folders will not be copied).

xcopy “c:\users\cdwyer\documents\2012-2013” “c:\users\cdwyer\documents\2013-2014” /T /E

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Job done, you should now see your copied folder structure ready to start filing into for the new year.

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16 thoughts on “How to copy an entire folder structure without copying the files (tip for starting the new financial year)

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  1. Thanks Cameron for the info! Do you know if this method will work for folders stored in Office 365 SharePoint 2013? If not, do you have any suggestions for copying a folder structure without the files in SharePoint 2013? Thanks!

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    1. This post will only work with local folders not SharePoint or Office 365 directly. What you could do though is sync a SharePoint or Office 365 library locally using OneDrive for Business then the xcopy method will work since you are just playing with local folder structure and OneDrive will take care of syncing the new folder structure back up to SharePoint/Office 365.

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      1. Hi , I’ve actually found a way to do this for Sharepoint

        1) Map the Sharepoint Folder as a Mapped drive locally on your machine ( https://pariswells.com/blog/random/how-to-map-sharepoint-document-library-as-network-drive-letter )

        2) Per Cameron Article perform a clone to your local machine ( xcopy to sharepoint does not work ) e.g.

        xcopy “X:\1718ClientFinances\*” “C:\Temp\FY\*” /T /E

        Now use Explorer to copy the folders from here to the new Directory

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  2. hello.. can anyone tell me why I am getting the invalid parameter error message?
    xcopy “T:\2 – FORECAST\2018\June Forecast” “T:\2 – FORECAST\2018\September Forecast” /T

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    1. Kinda late but it may be useful to someone…
      Most likely it’s because of the special caracter “–” in the folders’s names.
      It could be solved either by temporarily removing the problematic character (or replacing it with a regular “-” character), or by putting a “chcp” command (change codepage) before the xcopy command (or robocopy – see my message posted on 2019-07-15). I always use “chcp 1252” in my robocopy scripts, to deal with accentuated characters in french, but I’m not sure if it includes this particular character, which may be available in Unicode only.

      ** I just tested : a xcopy command or a robocopy command actually works with this folder name without changing the codepage (default is 850 which is “latin multilangue I” according to WinHex), so I’m not sure what went wrong in this case. Perhaps you actually used the special “” quotation marks (93 and 94 in hexadecimal – I copy pasted from your message to WinHex to verify) instead or the regular ” quotation marks (22 in hexadecimal) ? I tried with those special quotation marks and I get : “Nombre de paramètres non valide”.

      Gabriel, France

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Works also with :
    robocopy /E /DCOPY:T /XF *
    /XF * excludes all files, while /DCOPY:T preserves directories’ timestamps (and /E processes subdirectories as well, including empty ones).

    Liked by 1 person

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