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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
© Rakhesh Sasidharan

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Start-BitsTransfer does nothing

I had to copy some VMware templates from our head office to the branch offices. Thought I’d copy them out of the datastores manually, then do a BITS transfer to the remote offices. This way I can do the transfer during normal hours but with minimal user impact.

Since PowerShell 2.0 you had the Start-BitsTransfer cmdlet to do BITS transfers.

Oddly however, the command would just exit without any error for me. And it didn’t seem to be doing anything. Then I realized I was pointing the cmdlet to my source folder and that’s why it was failing! Start-BitsTransfer only takes files. You can specify wildcards to select multiple files but you can’t point it to a folder.

So the following doesn’t work:

But this works:

Since Start-BitsTransfer supports wildcards it’s mostly fine unless your folder contains sub-folders and you want to copy these and/ or preserve the structure. Fortunately this is PowerShell so it’s just a matter of creating some wrappers around the cmdlet to support folders too. Like this one for instance. Or use CSV files like in this MSDN article.

One thing to keep in mind – by default Start-BitsTransfer has a default priority (specified via the -Priority switch) of Foreground. This competes with other applications so is probably not what you want. You alternatives are High, Normal, or Low – each of which does the transfer in the background and uses the idle bandwidth of the client for transfer (the priority determines which transfer job gets priority over the other similar BITS transfers).

Another thing to keep in mind is that BITS only really looks at the bandwidth availability of the client (when I say “client” I am not sure if it’s the sender or receiver – I didn’t read much into this). In a LAN environment it could be the case that the WAN side is saturated but the particular client you are targeting is idle – in this case BITS will use the full client bandwidth available to it even though the network itself doesn’t have any spare bandwidth (this was the case prior to BITS 2.0 but since then BITS can use an Internet Gateway Device to try and assess the bandwidth availability on the WAN side – this requires an IGD be find-able via UPnP and also that the Internet Gateway Device support such reporting, so I am not sure how well it works in practice). You can also use GPOs to control BITS bandwidth usage.

Anyhoo, this is not a BITS intro so I’ll leave it at that. :)

Once you start a BITS transfer you can also pause it via Suspend-BitsTransfer or cancel it via Remove-BitsTransfer. The latter will also delete any files that are already transferred, so if you just want to cancel but leave the transferred files as it is use Complete-BitsTransfer instead.

That’s all for now!

p.s. Almost forgot. You can also use BITS to download HTTP files. Like in this post for instance.

Start-BitsTransfer does nothing by rakhesh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.