Do copy acceleration utilities actually lower file transfer speeds? Our tests say yes


We’ve featured several file copy acceleration utilities on this site. Recently, however, we went in and did a head-to-head test to discover which of the many free options was the best at increasing copying speed. The results surprised us greatly: all of the tools we tested actually took longer for the file transfer than Windows Explorer.

This was obviously not the result we expected or wanted, so we re-did the test using a different set of files.

When in the first round we used 367 files that collectively amounted to about 474 megabytes, in the second test we used 3 files that amounted again to about the same (493 megs), speculating that perhaps these kinds of copy utilities did better with large file SIZES rather than a large NUMBER of files.

However, the result in both cases was the same. Several follow up measurements on other PC and operating systems also produced more or less the same results.

1. A little background:

I am a long time user of SuperCopier, which I mentioned in a number of places on this site, and have used many of the better known free copy acceleration utilities such as Teracopy, Copy Handler, and others. This article was conceived in order to answer the question: which of the different copy acceleration utilities performed best. It was meant to be a simple test, as described below.

2. The original test concept.

We thought we would install each one of the freeware copy acceleration utilities one after the other and use these tools to copy a battery of files and folders to and from three hard drives with ample free space. We would time these and compare the results, including the results from Windows Explorer without using any copy tool at all. We ended up doing two tests and a handful of follow up measurements.

3. The free copy acceleration tools that were used:

And the control, of course, was Windows’ Explorer’s own copy process.

4. The First test:

  • Files used: 367 files totaling 474 MB. Text files, JPG’s, MP’3, Videos, and Excel files
  • Windows version: Windows Home 64 bit.
  • First transfer/ Internal HD: partition-to-partition on a 7200 rpm internal hard drive
  • Second transfer / External HD: laptop (7200 rpm)-to-external USB drive (5400 rpm)

We ran test twice, just to verify, on a different laptop, although it has the exact same specs above.

    4.1 Results for the First test

    See the table below.

    [tabla caption=”” width=”645″ colwidth=”105|105|105|10|105|105|105″ colalign=”left|left|left|left|left|left|left”]
    First attempt,Intenal HD,External HD,[attr style=”background-color:#E6EDF5″],Second attempt,Intenal HD,External HD
    Windows,‘00:16:40,‘01:54:885,[attr style=”background-color:#E6EDF5″],Windows,‘00:11:436,‘01:53:350
    FF Copy,‘00:18:982,‘05:20:229,[attr style=”background-color:#E6EDF5″],FF Copy,‘00:12:418,‘04:57:721
    FastCopy,‘00:40:760,‘02:52:419,[attr style=”background-color:#E6EDF5″],ExtremeCopy,‘00:35:960,‘03:19:405
    Copyhandler,‘00:42:715,‘02:16:137,[attr style=”background-color:#E6EDF5″],Copyhandler,‘00:37:821,‘02:13:862
    ExtremeCopy,‘01:04:280,‘03:17:806,[attr style=”background-color:#E6EDF5″],FastCopy,‘00:41:383,‘02:37:649
    SuperCopier2,‘01:17:158,‘03:37:159,[attr style=”background-color:#E6EDF5″],SuperCopier2,‘01:13:798,‘03:27:944
    Teracopy,‘01:10:697,‘02:31:914,[attr style=”background-color:#E6EDF5″],Teracopy,‘00:37:336,‘02:33:409 [/tabla]

    Windows on its own came out on top, and sometimes by a mile. There were strange variations between the transfer on the internal hard drives vs. the external USB drive. However, it seemed that no matter which copy acceleration tool, transfers simply took LONGER across the board.

    This is not what we wanted or expected, so we decided to try again, as described below.

    5. The Second test:

    • Files used: 3 files totaling 493 MB. All were large Excel files
    • Windows version: Windows Home 64 bit.
    • First transfer/ Internal HD: partition-to-partition on a 7200 rpm internal hard drive
    • Second transfer / External HD: laptop (7200 rpm)-to-external USB drive (5400 rpm)

    5.2 Results for the Second test

    [tabla caption=”” width=”315″ colwidth=”105|105|105″ colalign=”left|left|left”]
    ,Internal HD,External HD
    FF Copy,‘00:19:278,‘04:20:177
    FastCopy,‘00:38:743,‘01:58:59 [/tabla]

    Again, the results were similar to the first test, which showed that the number of files vs. size in megs was not the factor that lead to this result, that it was not an issue.

    6. More measurements.

    We did two follow-up measurements afterwards out of curiosity:

    1. We took the same files as the ‘Second Test’ above, and tested only FF Copy (since it was the best performer) on a 32 bit virtual machine. The results were the same
      • Windows: 00:22:80
      • FF Copy: 00:24:23
    2. We copied a 21.7 GIG folder containing 8 files on Windows 7 64bit, from an internal SSD drive to a 5400 rpm external USB drive.
      • Windows: 17:34:25
      • SuperCopier 2: 17:45:04

    7. The conclusion

    It seems to me that, aside from the advantage of being able to pause and resume file transfers, there is no gain to be had from using any of these copy acceleration tools, and in fact they have the adverse effect of slowing down your transfer.

    The possible exception to this is FF Copy, which at best perormed more or less on-par with Windows in the tests above.

    Your thoughts and insights would be extremely welcome.