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Create symbolic links & directory junctions (hard & soft file system links)

Posted February 2007 by Steve Sinchak

Windows Vista includes a great little utility that allows users to finally make soft and hard file system links in the file system.  This can be very useful from a software compatibility standpoint as well as a great way to organize your computer.  Unlike a shortcut, a link is at the file system level and can be used to create an alias for a file or folder that is in a different location.  For example, you can create a hard link (Directory junction) called c:\win that points to c:\windows\system32. After the link is created, you can open up command prompt or explorer and browse to c:\win and you will see the contents of c:\windows\system32. This is not a new technology, it has actually been a core Linux and Unix feature for as far as I can remember but it is nice to finally have it in Windows Vista.

Links can be created with the mklink command line utility.

MKLINK [[/D] | [/H] | [/J]] Link Target
        /D      Creates a directory symbolic link.  Default is a file  
                symbolic link.  
        /H      Creates a hard link instead of a symbolic link.  
        /J      Creates a Directory Junction.  
        Link    specifies the new symbolic link name.  
        Target  specifies the path (relative or absolute) that the new link  
                refers to.

Let's say that you want to create a directory junction like I mentioned earlier called c:\win that points to c:\windows\system32:

  1. Open up an Administrative Level command prompt.
  2. Run: mklink /j c:\win c:\windows\system32

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