Link Shell Extension is a free tool that allows you to create hardlinks and junctions on NTFS partitions with the Windows Explorer. In Windows XP/2003, you can only do this with the command line tool, fsutil. With Link Shell Extension, you can create hardlinks in a more convenient way.

Many don't know that Windows XP/2003 support hardlinks and junctions, since they never played an important role like in *nix systems. But, sometimes, they can be quite useful on a Windows system, too.

In Windows, shortcuts are common to point to a file or a directory in order to have access on it more conveniently. However, shortcuts are also files and this can cause problems with some applications. Hardlinks, by contrast, are built into the file system and are identical to directory entries. If you right click on a shortcut and select properties, you will get the file properties of the shortcut file, not of the original file itself. If you view the properties of a hardlink, Windows Explorer will show you the file properties.

Another difference is that if you delete the file, the shortcut will point to nowhere. Deleting the original directory entry of a file won't delete the file as long as there is at least one hardlink left. So basically, hardlinks are just directory entries of a file. Therefore, they are treated by the OS and applications exactly like the original directory entry. For example, if you want to change the security settings of a file, you can do that with a hardlink, but not with a shortcut.

Junctions, are links to folders. Like hardlinks, junctions are built-in into the filesystem. However, if you delete the original directory entry of a folder, the junction will point to nowhere. Junctions are symbolic links or softlinks. They are not supported for files by Windows XP/2003, but were introduced with Windows Vista.

Link Shell Extension also lets you create hardlink clones of a folder. The new folder will contain hardlinks to all files in the original folder.

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To create a hardlink with Link Shell Extension, you just have to right click on the file, and select "Pick Link Source". Then, you navigate to the folder where you want to create the hardlink, right click and then select "Drop HardLink". It works the same way with junctions and hard links clones.

1 Comment
  1. absquatulate 16 years ago

    this is my favorite junctions/hardlink tool

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