How to Create Soft and Hard Symbolic Links in Windows

A symbolic link is a file-system object (file or directory) that points to another file system object (file or directory). The object being pointed to is called the target.

There are two type of symbolic links: hard and soft.

A soft link is referenced as a symbolic link and works similarly to a standard shortcut. Soft links will have a shortcut arrow icon on them. For example, when you open a soft link to a folder, you will be redirected to the folder where the files are stored.

A hard link makes it appear as though the file or folder actually exists at the location of the symbolic link, and your app won’t know any better. That can make hard symbolic links more useful in most situations. Hard links to a file will not have a shortcut arrow icon on them.

A symbolic link can be helpful if say you wanted to sync a folder for a program. For example, if you have a program that must have its files stored at C:\Program Files and you want them stored at D:\My Location instead. You could move the original directory from C:\Program Files to D:\My Location, and create a symbolic link (soft or hard) at C:\Program Files (link) pointing to D:\My Location (target).

This tutorial will show you how to create soft and hard symbolic links (symlinks) pointing to a file or folder in Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10.

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