Symbolic Links in Windows for Pointing a Folder to Another Folder on an External Hard Drive or SSD
I have an external hard drive with some Origin games installed. I want to install Battlefield 3 on my main SSD drive, and my other games and files on my external hard drive. You can do this using a Windows symlink folder. It’s easy to make the symlinks folder, just be careful.
First, decide where you want to put the link folder and get the location of the folder you want to link to. For example, I wanted to place a symlink from the “Origin Games” folder on my SSD to my “Origin Games” folder on my External hard drive.
From the Windows desktop open the start menu by pressing the Windows key. Type in command, you will see it finds a piece of software called “Command Prompt”. This is a very old way of doing things on a computer, so it’s all text. But if you follow the instructions carefully it’s difficult to go wrong!
Warning before creating a Windows symlink: Symlinks only work from NTFS drives. You can make a symlink on NTFS that points to an exfat, but you can not make a symlink on exfat to point to NTFS. For this reason, if you are using Bootcamp on a Mac for example, you may have set your external hard drive partition to exfat format. If you did then you can only make symlinks from your Windows Bootcamp partition (which will be NTFS) to the external drive.
Let’s get started, right click on the command prompt that shows up in the start menu after you searched for “command” and select “Run as administrator”. Say yes to the box that pops up.
You will see a black screen with some writing. Things to type will be in bold from this point.
In the black screen type cd .. and press enter.
You will see it shows one less folder on the left side of the blinking thing. Type cd .. until it doesn’t change any more. You are now at the top directory level. You can type dir here to see all the folders you would normally see in your c:.
Now we need to make the symlink. There are four parts to the symlink we will create:
- mklink – this is the beginning part that tells Windows what we are making (make link).
- /D – This is the code to tell Windows we want a symlink. There are different codes you can use for more advanced symlinks, but you will not need those here.
- location1 – your pointing folder. This will be on our Windows NTFS SSD.
- location2 – your pointed to folder. This is the folder you are pointing the symlink to, in our case it will be on the external hard drive.
Use the example below and some trial and error (practice placing some links on your desktop first if you are nervous).
First, make a folder on the external drive at the highest level and call it “test folder”. Now in the command prompt window type:
mklink /D c:\Users\Admin\Desktop\test “f:\test folder”
When typing test folder, just type the tes then press tab. Windows will finish the folder name for you and also add the double commas. This is because the command prompt only recognizes spaces in folder and file names if you have speech marks around it. You can press tab for non spaced folder names too and Windows will finish the folder names for you.
Now press enter.
If everything worked it will say symlink created in the black command prompt box and you will have made something that looks like a shortcut folder called “test” on your desktop that points to test folder on your external hard drive.
You can take it from here. Good luck!
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