How to copy files from internal HDD to external HDD using CMD in Windows 8 install - Tutorial

So after the decision of formatting my Windows 7 partition to put Windows 8 on, I got an error saying I couldn't install Windows 8. The big problem is that the installer wanted me to format my ENTIRE HDD when I have important files on an alternative partition. In this tutorial, I'll show you how to transfer files from your internal HDD to an external HDD using Command Prompt that comes with the Windows installation.

Objective Retrieval: c:\*.*
Objective Directory: e:\k\kody\

Things you will need:
+A USB drive 4GB or higher with a Windows 7/8 installation OR a Windows 7/8 install/upgrade disk. Please note that the Windows 7 to 8 installer setup my vary and I will be walking you through Windows 8 since I gave my 7 installation away.
+An external HDD/SSD that you can connect to your computer. If you don't have as many files as I did, then another USB drive will work fine as long as it is big enough for the files you will be transferring.

Step #1:
- Insert installer hardware (USB/CD). If you don't have a Windows 8 installation device, I would suggest grabbing/buying a 4 or 8GB USB drive and downloading Microsoft's USB creator tool from their website. Next you would buy Windows 8 from Microsoft as a download or use a torrenting site (I do NOT encourage the use of piracy, in accordance to U.S. law and Tom's Hardware Terms of Use; this is just exercising my freedom of speech). There are loads of tutorials on YouTube if you need help attaining an installer device.

Step #2:
- Turn on your computer and go into the BIOS. Everyone BIOS is different, so the best I can say is what you need to do: change the boot priority so USB (or CD if you are using a disk) devices are first in line. We need the computer to boot into our installer device to access CMD.
- Save and reboot

Step #3:
- Once the Windows installation has loaded, click "Next" and instead of selecting "Install", click "Repair your computer" at the bottom left.
- Next click "Troubleshoot" < Advanced options < Command Prompt

Step #4:
- Do not type anything until the triple asterisk "***". The first few lines are for general information that can be important.
- This is where things can get a little tricky. You need to understand what each of your partitions/hardware devices have what labels. To find out what is where, (this is just the syntax, you don't actually have to type it just yet) type the command, "chkdsk" and a space, finished with the drive letter and a colon. I would recommend writing these down or typing them on a notepad document on another computer just like I did. I would also recommend having Calculator opened on your other computer or going to Google and typing "Megabytes to Gigabytes" so you can better understand what each label is assigned to. If you have any non-essential storage devices plugged into your computer whether they be outside or in, I would recommend turning your PC off and unplugging them. Unplugging what you can could save you time and prevent mistakes.
*** - Type: "chkdsk a:" and enter; You should get text saying "Cannot open volume for direct access".
- Type: "chkdsk b:" and enter; You should get text saying "Cannot open volume for direct access".
- Type: "chkdsk c:" and enter; Write this down
- Type: "chkdsk d:" and enter; Write this down
- Type: "chkdsk e:" and enter; Write this down
- Type: "chkdsk f:" and enter; Write this down. (If possible)
- Everyone's HDD and additional device setup may vary. CMD treats everything as one big HDD with lots of partitions. These are my results:

X: CMD (This is where the CMD is telling me I am at: X:\windows\system32 | full listing: X:\windows\system32;X:\windows;X:\windows\System32\Wben )

E: PassPort (This is my external HDD - I need send retrieved files to k\kody\ )
D: 8GB USB formatted with Windows 8 Install
C: Files Partition (has important files I need to retrieve)
B: Unformatted Partition (largest partition I would normally put my OS on)
A: System Partition (100MB)

Step #5:
- We're almost done! Next is the part that got me off the most. When I got here and transferred the files, I checked on another computer and could not see or access them. Because I don't want individual directories nor do I even know each directory path, I transferred the entire partition to my HDD, all 16 or so gigabytes (out of the 20GB partition), to my external HDD. What did I forget? Simply: "*.*" after that "\". Now I did add something after that to be sure it worked, although I don't actually know if it is required. I will add this as an unsure optional step in the end and maybe someone with enough time can test it for me.
- Type the following command as syntax (replacing certain drive letters - be careful though because not every individual letter is a drive letter! Read the explanation after it)
- Type: "x:\windows\system32\xcopy /s c:\*.* e:\k\kody\"
Explained: Anything with "\" is replaceable. Anything with "/" is NOT.
In this case, "/s" switches directories. The reason I emphasize this so much is for the next step.

Step #6 (Can someone help me figure out if this step is optional?):
- Type: "attrib -h -r -s /s /d e:\k\*.*"
Explained: Again we switched directories. This time we're introduced to folder/file attributes. If you really want to figure out what each attribute does, type "attrib /?" although that isn't very important.

Step #7:
- You are now done!
- Check your work BEFORE fully formatting your HDD to be sure the files are actually transferred and accessible.
- Also be sure to comment for any compliments, questions, or concerns!

Thanks everyone! ^_^

Additional Sources:

Please help, I really need these files on my external HDD! It wouldn't be the end of the world if I lost them, but it would definitely waste countless hours of hard work when I could have just made a post like this asking for help. Thanks!

Additional Info = If you aren't very tech savvy and didn't get that I don't have an OS installed anymore, well: I don't.
5 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about copy files internal hdd external hdd cmd windows install tutorial
  1. I have it figured out -
    because I was trying to copy an entire partition, I was missing one little thing:
    *.* after the \
  2. KodyWB said:
    I have it figured out -
    because I was trying to copy an entire partition, I was missing one little thing:
    *.* after the \

    Hey KodyWB, could you please share every steps you've made to copy all the files? I have the same problem as yours but I don't know where to starts.. :??:
  3. Best answer
    x:\windows\system32\xcopy /s c:\*.* e:\k\kody\
  4. KodyWB said:
    x:\windows\system32\xcopy /s c:\*.* e:\k\kody\

    Thank you very much KodyWB! It works!!

    But I didn't try step 6..

  5. x:\windows\system32\xcopy /s c:\*.* e:\k\kody\
    in that link what is c: and e:\k\kody ,
    Please explain clear way.
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