Junction, Create Symbolic Links

If you are working with a Linux distribution, you may already know about the symbolic link functionality which enables you to create a (symbolic) link between two directories. A little freeware tool called Junction from Sysinternals adds this functionality to the Windows operating system.

Junction basically lets you create these symbolic links with ease in the operating system. It is basically redirecting access to a specific directory to another directory. This can be helpful in a number of scenarios.

Take the popular gaming platform Steam for instance. With Steam, you can only install games on the same drive the software has been installed on (update: no longer true but the example is still useful to understand how symbolic links work). If you are running out of space, you previously only had the option to delete games that you do not play anymore, or to move the software in its entirety to a new hard drive. With Junctions, you can move specific game folders to a new drive, and use the symbolic link to redirect access from the old game directory to the new directory you move the game to without losing access to the game or any functionality.

For example, if the directory D:\SYMLINK specified C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32 as its target, then an application accessing D:\SYMLINK\DRIVERS would in reality be accessing C:\WINNT\SYSTEM32\DRIVERS. Directory symbolic links are known as NTFS junctions in Win2K.

Junction is a command line tool, and some users may prefer a version that is coming with a graphical user interface instead. We have reviewed several options in the past. From the excellent Steam Mover, which not only works with Steam games and contents, but with all folders on the system, or Link Shell Extensions which integrates itself into the Windows Explorer right-click context menu.

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Junction is nevertheless an excellent tool, and everything that users may need to get started with symbolic links on their systems. Newer versions of Windows come with the command line tool mklink that users can utilize directly without having to download a third party program first.

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