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Thread: [HOW TO] Using Symbolic Links to Prevent C: Drive from filling up?

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    Shockwave
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    Question [HOW TO] Using Symbolic Links to Prevent C: Drive from filling up?

    I've been doing some reading on methods to reduce the amount of space used on the C: Drive and I've read other posts where the term "symbolic links" have often come up.

    I'm just not quite getting it and am unsure it will get me what I'm trying to achieve.

    So, I'm currently looking at my C: Drive "Program Files" and "Users" folders and would like to prevent them from growing in size and taking anymore space on my C: Drive. I'm thinking I could use symbolic links for these folders and point them to folders on my external micro SD card, which is assigned as my D: drive.

    However, I'm not sure how to do this, how it works and what it does for me. Let's say for example I want to create symbolic links for both folders mentioned above to my D: drive.

    Original Source Folders.

    C:/Program Files
    C:/Users

    New Symbolic Link Folders:
    D:/Program Files
    D:/Users


    I'm thinking in the Windows command prompt I would issue the following 2 commands to create these sym links.
    Code:
    >mklink /J C:\Users  D:\Users
    >mklink /J "C:\Program Files"  "D:\Program Files"
    Now, I'm unsure what that does. Does it move the contents of what is currently in the C: Drive "Users" and "Program Files" folders to the D drive folder locations? Or now when I run or install a program, any data that would normally get put in those C: Drive folders would now get placed in the D: drive linked folders?

    I'm trying to keep those folders from growing on the C: drive from when installing programs, apps, and running programs. I will install the actual programs to the D: drive, but typically programs will still put other files and information in those C: drive folder locations.
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    It sounds easy doesn't it... and generally speaking, I believe your understanding and example is correct.

    I think initially though that you must copy everything in the folder tree structures to your D drive and then after the symlink command is given, the OS will always read/write to the D drive symlink location rather than the old C drive location. I'd suspect that after a week or two, if nothing (refer to file dates) is newly written into those two sub-folder trees on the C drive then they could be emptied.

    I've attempted to use symbolic links several years ago on three networked PCs to read/write to a common index file for Picasso photo, so all three PCs would remain in sync. It did work between 2 of the three PCs but one of the PCs was Win XP which didn't support symlinks, so the project didn't totally work as needed and just kind of languished and now with cloud storage, I think there's possibly better solutions. Thanks Rednoll for reminding me I never completed that project!

    Back to your issue... anyhow... I'd be a bit leery of symlinking system folders because if something in the step by step timing of the initial points is not right, you could have a lone file not get updated/written in the new location and it could break the OS. Maybe not?
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    What is your D drive, a microsd card? Seriously consider the speed deficiencies of using the sd card for anything other than just actual storage space (music, movies, large files). From personal testing and reading, it appears the sd slot on this device does not support UHS1 standard, likely class 10 at best.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GPz1100 View Post
    What is your D drive, a microsd card? Seriously consider the speed deficiencies of using the sd card for anything other than just actual storage space (music, movies, large files). From personal testing and reading, it appears the sd slot on this device does not support UHS1 standard, likely class 10 at best.
    Yep, already thought of that. If there wasn't a need to do this, then I wouldn't be asking.
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    Some programs could be installed to an SD card, but your example, after the fact, will break your system. The problem is that so many support files and associated registry entries are pointing to the original installation folders.

    Even if you install programs to D:\ there will still be space used on C for the support files that get installed to the boot partition/drive and you have zero options to change that location. They will go to the systems32 filer no matter what.

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    The problem is that so many support files and associated registry entries are pointing to the original installation folders.
    So when executing all the pieces of the Windows OS programs, they will always look to the original file paths and the OS just flat out ignores those "newly defined" symbolic link locations? That would mean the symbolic link structure is controlled and directed by the Windows OS itself and it doesn't know where to look for those links until the "table of links" is loaded somewhere in the boot and load process. This would seem to relegate symbolic links to being used for only non OS programs.
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    Quote Originally Posted by rickscheller View Post
    So when executing all the pieces of the Windows OS programs, they will always look to the original file paths and the OS just flat out ignores those "newly defined" symbolic link locations?
    No, but you'll only be changing where files of the folder the symbolic link is established with and nothing else... So all the dependencies that get installed elsewhere will continue to get installed elsewhere and thus limit the space saving of the symbolic link... unless you create symbolic links for each of where all the files are placed but that quickly gets difficult...

    Think of symbolic links like a call forwarding system but only for specific type of calls... you'll have to tell it where to forward to and it won't cover anything you don't tell it to cover... but where it works the caller won't be able to tell that the call is being forwarded...

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    Quote Originally Posted by zeo View Post
    No, but you'll only be changing where files of the folder the symbolic link is established with and nothing else... So all the dependencies that get installed elsewhere will continue to get installed elsewhere and thus limit the space saving of the symbolic link... unless you create symbolic links for each of where all the files are placed but that quickly gets difficult...

    Think of symbolic links like a call forwarding system but only for specific type of calls... you'll have to tell it where to forward to and it won't cover anything you don't tell it to cover... but where it works the caller won't be able to tell that the call is being forwarded...
    Correct, but if you are mostly talking the user and program files folders being symlinked, that can save a lot of space.

    It is impossible to symlink out EVERYTHING, but you can do a fair amount if you really want.

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    [HOW TO] Added to thread title
    Thread moved to FAQs section.
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    I suppose it is possible to boot into winPE, move the /users and /program files folders to the sd, then create sym links. That would be a sort of brute force attempt at relocation. As pointed out above, the question remains if the hard coded dependencies will honor the redirection.

    So long as you have a good backup image, it worth a shot. If it fails just restore and try a less aggressive approach.

 

 
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