The REPLACE command in Windows CMD is used to replace files in one directory with files from another directory. It’s primarily designed for batch updating or synchronization of files that share the same name. This command proves highly effective in managing routine updates to sets of files across network servers or local storage directories.


The basic syntax of the REPLACE command is as follows:

REPLACE [source] [destination] [options]
  • source: Path to the source directory where the files to be copied are located.
  • destination: Path to the destination directory where the files will be replaced.


The REPLACE command supports several options that modify its behavior:

  • /A: Adds new files to the destination only without replacing existing files.
  • /P: Prompts for confirmation before replacing each file.
  • /R: Replaces read-only files as well as unprotected files.
  • /S: Includes subdirectories of the source when searching for files to replace.
  • /W: Waits for you to insert a disk before starting.
  • /U: Replaces files only when the source file is newer than the destination file.

Each of these flags alters how REPLACE functions, for example, /S is useful for deep directory hierarchies.


Example 1: Replace files without confirmation

REPLACE C:\source\*.dll D:\destination

This command replaces all .dll files from C:\source to D:\destination without prompt.

Example 2: Update newer files and include subdirectories

REPLACE C:\source\*.* D:\destination /S /U

Updates files in D:\destination and its subdirectories only if they are older than those in C:\source.

Example 3: Add new files only

REPLACE C:\newfiles\*.* D:\old\ /A

Only adds files from C:\newfiles to D:\old that do not already exist.

Common Issues

  • Access Permission: Users might face access denial errors if attempting to replace files in directories where they don’t have proper permissions.

    Solution: Ensure administrative privileges or appropriate rights to the directories involved.

  • Read-Only Files: The command by default does not replace read-only files unless explicitly directed with the /R option.


REPLACE can be combined with other CMD commands for versatile file management tasks:

FOR /R %f IN (*.bak) DO REPLACE %f C:\Archives\ /S

This script replaces all backup files found in subfolders with those in the designated archive folder, traversing directories recursively.

  • XCOPY: For copying files and directories with more control over the process.
  • ROBOCOPY: A command-line utility for robust file copy.
  • DEL: For deleting files in one or more directories.

For more extensive documentation on these commands, refer to the official Microsoft documentation or the built-in help in Windows CMD by executing command_name /? (e.g., XCOPY /?).