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Junctions on NTFS

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Assigned keywords: Programmieren

Some time ago, I heard of the possibility to use "Junctions" with NTFS, a function which Microsoft is not quite verbose about. They bring some flavor of UNIX to Windows, as they serve a similar function as symlinks on UNIX filesystem. Unlike the usual shortcuts, they pose real links to other locations in the same or other filesystems. This is of tremendous value. While I do not to resort to symlinks often on UNIX, they're pretty useful on Windows as they help to alleviate typical drawbacks of Windows such as the C: to X: volume names.

But just let me give some juicy examples:


Backup was my first use for junctions. Out of old habits, I have my data spread over several location. One being My Documents, flanked by two data partitions, with the second containing mostly RAW images. Instead of having several profiles in my backup tool, I created a folder backup and junctioned to the different locations of my data (I took the whole NT profile instead of just My Documents, I want to keep my mail, thanks). So now I can just replicate this folder, which is quite convenient.

Reorganize Space

When I installed my computer 3 1/2 years ago, I thought 10 GB for the system partition to be sufficient. Which it was for a while, until Mr. XP began to clutter C: with copies of MSI-Installers. Apparently, he keeps and needs some of them, as I learned the hard way not to delete those, for when I did so, I couldn't deinstall Open Office anymore. Well, thanks. Equally stupid is my tax software, which stores my tax data conveniently to the All Users profile, where it takes up 700 MB. Hey, My Documents (residing on E:) anyone?

With junctions, I can at least send All Users to some other partition.

Root mounted file system

Some people prefer root mounted file hierarchies as in UNIX. I'm not keen on this one, but maybe I'll go for it on my next machine, essentially linking every partition to folders on C:, maybe even "My Document", because this resides so prominently in the main hierarchy.

There is one main drawback, however. Different from UNIX, most software on Windows doesn't expect to handle Junctions. This is especially bad for software used to measure disk space, as it will compare the disk's total to what he truly finds. On Unix system, you have "do not follow symlinks" on many programs to prevent that.


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