NTFS symbolic link


NTFS symbolic link

A NTFS symbolic link (symlink) is a filesystem object in the NTFS filesystem that points to another filesystem 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, and were introduced with the modifications made to the NTFS file system with Windows Vista.

Unlike an NTFS junction point (available since Windows 2000), a symbolic link can also point to a file or remote SMB network path. While NTFS junction points support only absolute paths on local drives, the NTFS symbolic links allow linking using relative paths. Additionally, the NTFS symbolic link implementation provides full support for cross-filesystem links. However, the functionality enabling cross-host symbolic links requires that the remote system also support them, which effectively limits their support to Windows Vista and later Windows operating systems.

An NTFS symbolic link is not the same as a Windows shortcut file, which is a regular file. The latter may be created on any filesystem (such as the earlier FAT32), may contain metadata (such as an icon to display when the shortcut is viewed in Windows Explorer), and is not transparent to applications.

Contents

Restrictions

The default security settings in Windows Vista/Windows 7 disallow non-elevated administrators and all non-administrators from creating symbolic links. This behavior can be changed in the Local Security Policy management console (under: Security Settings\Local Policies\User Rights Assignment\Create symbolic links). It can be worked around by starting cmd.exe with Run as administrator option or the runas command.

Syntax

The mklink command is used to create a symbolic link. It is natively available in Windows Vista/2008+. It has the following command line syntax:[1]

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.

Just like ordinary files and folders, del and rmdir can be used to delete symbolic links to files and directories.

To delete a symbolic link to a file or directory, the following command line syntax can be used (in each case, "linkname" specifies the name of the symbolic link to be deleted):

  • For links to files:
    del linkname
    
  • For links to directories:
    rmdir linkname
    

Other features

Symbolic links can point to non existent targets because the operating system does not check to see if the target exists.[2]

References

  1. ^ Mklink on technet.microsoft.com
  2. ^ Microsoft.com

External links


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