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Beginners Guides: Understanding and Creating Batch Files

Beginners Guides: Understanding and Creating Batch Files - PCSTATS
Abstract: Batch files can save time by automating actions down to one simple click. A good understanding of what they are, how they work, and how to create your own, is crucial to today's IT force.
Filed under: Beginners Guides Published:  Author: 
External Mfg. Website: PCSTATS Apr 04 2011   Mike Dowler  
Home > Reviews > Beginners Guides > PCSTATS

Third trial batch file: getting fancy

Now that we've seen some of the extra commands that can be used in batch files, let's play with one of the most powerful of them, the FOR command. In this case, we're going to alter our simple backup batch file and make it a bit more sophisticated. It's going to differentiate between two different types of files (text/Word documents and pictures) and back each file type up to a different directory. To set up for this we need to create two more directories in c:\. Call them

C:\Text
C:\Pics

Delete the existing text and .bmp files in your c:\testsource directory and create a couple of new versions of each.

Now open notepad and enter the following:

@echo off
cd c:\testsource
for %%f in (*.doc *.txt) do xcopy c:\testsource\"%%f" c:\text /m /y
for %%f in (*.jpg *.bmp *.gif) do xcopy c:\testsource\"%%f" c:\pics /m /y

Now this is a bit more complicated than the files we did before, so let's take a close look at what this batch file is going to do.

cd c:\testsource

Tells the computer that the directory we are going to be working in is c:\testsource

for %%F in (*.doc *.txt) do xcopy c:\testsource\"%%F" c:\text /m /y

This line tells the computer that FOR any file with the .doc or .txt file extension (meaning any standard Word doc or text file), DO an xcopy command to copy that file to the c:\text directory using the same options we used in the last batch file. The confusing looking '%%F' character represents the variable that the FOR command uses to carry out this operation. For example, if your first text file in the c:\testsource directory is 'texttest1.txt', the batch file would look at it, see that it had a .txt extension and assign it as the value of '%%F'. The second part of the command

do xcopy c:\testsource\"%%F" c:\text /m /y

takes whatever %%F is (in this case your 'texttest1.txt' file) and copies it to the c:\text directory. The quotation marks around %%F are to allow the command to deal with file names containing spaces. The command then loops until it has looked at every file in the current directory before moving on to the next part of the batch file.

for %%F in (*.jpg *.bmp *.gif) do xcopy c:\testsource\"%%F" c:\pics /m /y

The only thing that is different here is that we are looking for graphics file extensions instead and copying them to the 'c:\pics' directory.

Save your third batch file on the desktop as 'trickybackup.bat' and try it out. You'll see that your newest creation neatly differentiates between text documents and pictures and splits them up accordingly.

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Contents of Article: PCSTATS
 Pg 1.  Beginners Guides: Understanding and Creating Batch Files
 Pg 2.  Creating a BATCH File
 Pg 3.  Preparing for your second batch file
 Pg 4.  Anatomy of a batch file
 Pg 5.  — Third trial batch file: getting fancy
 Pg 6.  Batch file error levels and the goto command

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