How to Link Folders on Windows

This instruction is primarily for Windows Vista and above. Windows XP have different ways to make junction links. Sorry.

Or, what to do if your game needs a gigantuan amount of local hard disk space, and your C: drive is running out of it. Or, really, if you can’t set up any of your program to read the files it needs from a different directory. Pretty much akin to moving saved game file.

This was quite a huge problem for me with playing The Sims 3, which require 1 GB of hard disk space for its save files. 1 GB which the C: drive couldn’t afford. For years I’ve struggled with repeated disk cleanup and compression, and suddenly the solution just popped out of nowhere.

What you need is something called Symbolic Links or Symlinks (specifically, a junction directory). It’s sort of a shortcut that pretends it’s the folder your programs use, but opening it actually leads to a different folder elsewhere. With the interest of an easy jargon-free tutorial in mind, here’s how to make it.

There’s no graphical function to make symlinks, as far as I know, so you’re going to need to use the command line. Press WinLogoButton + R (or just use Start button’s search) and type in “cmd”

help_symlinks1 The command for making a symlink is

mklink <argument> <path to link> <path to the directory you’re linking to>

For our purpose, the <argument> is /j. For <path to link> put in the location of the symlink. For example, it’s the place where the program expects the folder to be. For <path to directory you’re linking to> put in the location of the folder you’re linking to.

Fill the command in, then type it out.

help_symlinks2Just so. If you know your thing, relative path also works. Note that if a folder with the same name with the link exists, this will overwrite that.

With this you won’t be tied by the location that your program force you to use. If you need to move a file to a different hard disk but your program won’t be able to read it from there, just put a symlink and all is good.

Note that Windows Explorer can also make a folder “shortcut” graphically, but programs won’t be able to read it. This is good enough if you just want to access the folder yourself, though.

Also, this.

Linux (Ubuntu, at least) can make folder links with the File Browser GUI. Just make a new empty folder and turn it into a link. For any Linux + Windows + Wine users out there, you can use this to link Wine’s Application Data folder with Windows’s, sharing save file for Windows app between the two operating systems.


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