Windows 7 / Getting Started

Symbolic Links

Windows Vista and Windows 7 include symbolic links. Symbolic links act like shortcuts, but they provide a transparent link to the target file at the file-system level rather than within Windows Explorer. Therefore, although a user can double-click a shortcut from Windows Explorer to open the original file, a symbolic link will actually trick applications into thinking they are directly accessing the target file.

As an administrator, you might need to use symbolic links for backward compatibility. For example, if an application expects to find a file in the root of the C drive but you need to move the file to a different location on the local disk, you can create a symbolic link in the root of the C drive to the file's new location, allowing the application to continue to access the file in the root of the C drive. Windows Vista and Windows 7 use symbolic links for backward compatibility with user profiles in earlier versions of Windows.

Symbolic Links, Hard Links, Junction Points, and Shortcuts

Windows Vista and Windows 7 support four different types of links, each providing a slightly different function:

  • Shortcuts Shortcuts are files with a .lnk extension. If you double-click them within the Windows Explorer shell, Windows will open the target file. However, the file system treats .lnk files just like any other files. For example, opening a .lnk file from a command prompt does not open the target file.
  • Hard links Hard links create a new directory entry for an existing file, so a single file can appear in multiple folders (or in a single folder using multiple filenames). Hard links must all be on a single volume.
  • Junction points A lso known as soft links, junction points reference a folder using an absolute path. Windows automatically redirects requests for a junction point to the target folder. Junction points do not have to be on the same volume.
  • Symbolic links A pointer to a file or folder. Like junction points, symbolic links are almost always transparent to users. (Occasionally, a program might use an outdated application programming interface [AP I] that does not respect a symbolic link.) Symbolic links use relative paths rather than absolute paths.
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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