Windows 7 / Getting Started

How to Use Hard Links

Hard links create a second directory entry for a single file, whereas symbolic links create a new file that references an existing file. This subtle difference yields significantly different behavior.

You can create hard links by adding the /H parameter to the mklink command. For example, the following command creates a hard link from Link.txt to Target.txt.

C:\>mklink /H link.txt target.txt Hardlink created for link.txt <<===>> target.txt

As with symbolic links, any changes made to the hard link are made automatically to the target (including attribute changes) and vice versa because the file itself is stored only once on the volume. However, hard links have several key differences:

  • Hard links must refer to files on the same volume, while symbolic links can refer to files or folders on different volumes or shared folders.
  • Hard links can refer only to files, while symbolic links can refer to either files or folders. n Windows maintains hard links, so the link and the target remain accessible even if you move one of them to a different folder.
  • Hard links survive deleting the target file. A target file is deleted only if the target file and all hard links are deleted.
  • If you delete a symbolic link target and then create a new file with the same name as the target, the symbolic link will open the new target. Hard links will continue to reference the original target file, even if you replace the target.
  • Hard links do not show up as symbolic links in dir command-line output, and Windows Explorer does not show a shortcut symbol for them. Hard links are indistinguishable from the original file.
  • Changes made to file permissions on a hard link apply to the target file and vice versa. With symbolic links, you can configure separate permissions on the symbolic link, but the permissions are ignored.

Windows XP supports hard links by using the fsutil hardlink command. Windows Vista and Windows 7 hard links are compatible with Windows XP hard links, and the fsutil hardlink command continues to function in Windows Vista and Windows 7.

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In this tutorial:

  1. Managing Disks and File Systems
  2. Overview of Partitioning Disks
  3. How to Choose Between MBR or GPT
  4. Converting from MBR to GPT Disks
  5. GPT Partitions
  6. Choosing Basic or Dynamic Disks
  7. Working with Volumes
  8. How to Create a Simple Volume
  9. How to Create a Spanned Volume
  10. How to Create a Striped Volume
  11. How to Resize a Volume
  12. How to Delete a Volume
  13. How to Create and Use a Virtual Hard Disk
  14. File System Fragmentation
  15. Backup And Restore
  16. How File Backups Work
  17. File and Folder Backup Structure
  18. How System Image Backups Work
  19. How to Start a System Image Backup from the Command Line
  20. How to Restore a System Image Backup
  21. System Image Backup Structure
  22. Best Practices for Computer Backups
  23. How to Manage Backup Using Group Policy Settings
  24. Previous Versions and Shadow Copies
  25. How to Manage Shadow Copies
  26. How to Restore a File with Previous Versions
  27. How to Configure Previous Versions with Group Policy Settings
  28. Windows ReadyBoost
  29. BitLocker Drive Encryption
  30. How BitLocker Encrypts Data
  31. How BitLocker Protects Data
  32. TPM with External Key (Require Startup USB Key At Every Startup)
  33. TPM with PIN (Require PIN At Every Startup)
  34. TPM with PIN and External Key
  35. BitLocker To Go
  36. BitLocker Phases
  37. Requirements for Protecting the System Volume with BitLocker
  38. How to Enable the Use of BitLocker on the System Volume on Computers Without TPM
  39. How to Enable BitLocker Encryption on System Volumes
  40. How to Enable BitLocker Encryption on Data Volumes
  41. How to Manage BitLocker Keys on a Local Computer
  42. How to Manage BitLocker from the Command Line
  43. How to Recover Data Protected by BitLocker
  44. How to Disable or Remove BitLocker Drive Encryption
  45. How to Decommission a BitLocker Drive Permanently
  46. How to Prepare AD DS for BitLocker
  47. How to Configure a Data Recovery Agent
  48. How to Manage BitLocker with Group Policy
  49. The Costs of BitLocker
  50. Windows 7 Encrypting File System
  51. How to Export Personal Certificates
  52. How to Import Personal Certificates
  53. How to Grant Users Access to an Encrypted File
  54. Symbolic Links
  55. How to Create Symbolic Links
  56. How to Create Relative or Absolute Symbolic Links
  57. How to Create Symbolic Links to Shared Folders
  58. How to Use Hard Links
  59. Disk Quotas
  60. How to Configure Disk Quotas on a Single Computer
  61. How to Configure Disk Quotas from a Command Prompt
  62. How to Configure Disk Quotas by Using Group Policy Settings
  63. Disk Tools
  64. EFSDump
  65. SDelete
  66. Streams
  67. Sync
  68. MoveFile and PendMoves