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Encyclopedia > NTFS symbolic link

In computing, an NTFS symbolic link (symlink) is a file-system object that points to another file system object. The object being pointed to is called the target. Symbolic links should be transparent to users; the links appear as normal files or directories, and can be acted upon by the user or application in exactly the same manner. Symbolic links are designed to aid in migration and application compatibility with POSIX operating systems, but there are important limitations in its implementation[1]. Originally, the word computing was synonymous with counting and calculating, and a science and technology that deals with the original sense of computing mathematical calculations. ... In computing, a symbolic link (often shortened to symlink and also known as a soft link) consists of a special type of file that serves as a reference to another file. ...


Unlike a NTFS junction point, a symbolic link can point to a file or UNC, as well as a folder or a volume, and it can also span file systems. In computing, an NTFS junction point (JP) is a type of NTFS reparse point in the NTFS file system. ...

Contents

Restrictions

By default only administrators can create symbolic links. You can override the decision using secpol.msc.


Examples of use

These examples from an MSDN blog[2] demonstrate the use of the new 'mklink' utility in Microsoft Vista.


Verifying running Windows Vista

C:test>ver

 Microsoft Windows [Version 6.0.5365] 

Description of 'mklink' command

C:test>mklink

 Creates a symbolic link. 
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.

Creating a symbolic link to a file

C:test>mklink foo c:Windowssystem32notepad.exe

 symbolic link created for foo <<===>> c:Windowssystem32notepad.exe 

C:test>dir

 Volume in drive C has no label. Volume Serial Number is 2211-7428 
Directory of C:test
04/14/2006 11:24 AM <DIR> . 04/14/2006 11:24 AM <DIR> .. 04/14/2006 11:24 AM <SYMLINK> foo [c:Windowssystem32notepad.exe] 1 File(s) 0 bytes 2 Dir(s) 69,238,722,560 bytes free

Creating a symbolic link to a directory

C:test>mklink /d bar c:windows

 symbolic link created for bar <<===>> c:windows 

C:test>dir

 Volume in drive C has no label. Volume Serial Number is 2211-7428 
Directory of C:test
04/14/2006 11:24 AM <DIR> . 04/14/2006 11:24 AM <DIR> .. 04/14/2006 11:24 AM <SYMLINKD> bar [c:windows] 04/14/2006 11:24 AM <SYMLINK> foo [c:Windowssystem32notepad.exe] 1 File(s) 0 bytes 3 Dir(s) 69,238,722,560 bytes free

Deleting a symbolic link to a file

C:test>del foo


C:test>dir

 Volume in drive C has no label. Volume Serial Number is 2211-7428 
Directory of C:test
04/14/2006 11:24 AM <DIR> . 04/14/2006 11:24 AM <DIR> .. 04/14/2006 11:24 AM <SYMLINKD> bar [c:windows] 0 File(s) 0 bytes 3 Dir(s) 69,238,722,560 bytes free

Deleting a symbolic link to a directory

C:test>rmdir bar


C:test>dir

 Volume in drive C has no label. Volume Serial Number is 2211-7428 
Directory of C:test
04/14/2006 11:24 AM <DIR> . 04/14/2006 11:24 AM <DIR> .. 0 File(s) 0 bytes 2 Dir(s) 69,238,722,560 bytes free

References

  1. ^ Vista Symlinks Revisited…
  2. ^ Symbolic links in Windows Vista.

External links

Informative

  • MSDN Article - Symbolic Links
  • MSDN Article - CreateSymbolicLink 'C' function

Other

  • Hardlink Shell Extension – adds new entries for managing hardlinks, junctions, and symbolic links into the Windows Explorer context menus
  • Link/Junction Creation tool - symbolic link access driver for 2000/XP and symbolic link (Vista compatible) creation tool on 2000/XP.(Japanese)

 
 

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