It is great to finally see a real effective symbolic link implemented as a standard option in the latest Windows 7 and up. If you have experience with unix or linux systems you may already know all about symbolic links. If not, a symbolic link is a way of telling the computers operating system that a file path points to a different location. This is useful when dealing with compatibility or access problems with programs such as unchangeable or default install locations of programs that are too problematic to actually reinstall in the new location or for some reason impossible to change. This method will help standardized file path conflicts.
When you create a symbolic link the “new folder” will point to the “source folder”. This will allow you to access files in the source folder through the new folder path and the computer will not try and correct it, it will believe the files actually are located through the new folder path, but in reality they will be affecting those in the original source folder.
1. Login to Windows 7 or 8 as an administrator
2. Goto \Windows\System32 and locate cmd.exe, right click on it and select “Run as administrator”
3. In the command window you will enter the command to create the symbolic link between the two directories like so.
C:\> mklink /D “C:\NEWFOLDER” “C:\SOURCEFOLDER”
Now if you open your computer folders and goto C: (or whatever location you did this at) you will see the folder C:\NEWFOLDER you will also notice a little arrow in the bottom left of the icon indicating this is a symbolic link (not to be mistaken by a shortcut).
Note on shortcuts: A shortcut will resolve to the source folder unlike symbolic links which resolve directly through the path of the symbolic link. So shortcuts don’t have the ability to correct path conflicts in most instances like this method will.
Mklink /D (symbolic link) vs /J (junction)
In the above example we used /D to make a symbolic link, however it must be noted that a symbolic link for a directory only works if the new folder and source folder exist on the same partition. If you want to make a symbolic link across partitions, drives, shared network drives-then you must a junkction. Simply replace the option /D to /J in the example above.