Hard Link vs. Symbolic Link


In reference to the last article I posted about NTFS Junction Points, here’s some more related information:

Hard link – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In computing, a hard link is a reference, or pointer, to physical data on a storage volume. On most file systems, all named files are hard links. The name associated with the file is simply a label that refers the operating system to the actual data. As such, more than one name can be associated with the same data. Though called by different names, any changes made will affect the actual data, regardless of how the file is called at a later time. Hard links can only refer to data that exists on the same file system.On Unix-like systems, hard links can be created with the link() system call, or the ln utility.On Microsoft Windows, hard links can be created only on NTFS volumes, either with fsutil hardlink or mklink. Also, the Cygwin set of utilities has a Unix-like ln command.The process of unlinking disassociates a name from the data
on the volume without destroying the associated data. The data is still accessible as long as at least one link that points to it still exists. When the last link is removed, the space is considered free. A process ambiguously called undeleting allows the recreation of links to data that is no longer associated with a name. However, this process is not available on all systems and is often not reliable.

NTFS symbolic link – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An NTFS symbolic link (symlink) is a file-system object in the NTFS filesystem that points to another file system object. The object being pointed to is called the target. Symbolic links
should be transparent to users; the links appear as normal files or directories, and can be acted upon by the user or application in exactly the same manner. Symbolic links are designed to aid in migration and application compatibility with POSIX operating systems.Unlike an NTFS junction point, a symbolic link can also point to a file or remote SMB network path. Additionally, the NTFS symbolic link implementation provides full support for cross-filesystem links. However, the functionality enabling cross-host symbolic links requires that the remote system also support them, which effectively limits their support to Windows Vista and later Windows operating systems.

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