[xplorer˛] — Profit with folder junctions
home » blog » 19 October 2008
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We have already looked at useful applications of folder junctions, which act like folder shortcuts and allow you to reorganize an existing folder hierarchy. Windows Vista uses a lot of junctions to redirect system folders behind the scenes for backward compatibility.

Here is a scenario. Your hard disk has a few partitions C,D,E, and you are running out of space in your system partition (how quickly do 1TB disks fill up!). There are some programs like MS Outlook that use a lot of space (my PST file is over 1GB) and will not allow you to choose a folder where to save their data. You would like to move the emails folder to E: where you still have space but how? Outlook doesn't have an option to change the default C:\Documents and Settings\you\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook location.

The solution is simple. Behind Outlook's back copy the huge folder to E: partition, then replace the original folder with a junction point with the same name that redirects to your new Outlook folder. Outlook will still think that its files are under C:\Documents and Settings\you\Local Settings\... so it won't complain, but a whole lot of space will be freed from C: since the files are really stored on E:! To recap:

  1. Quit Outlook so that it won't keep any locks on its data folder
  2. Create a new folder on E: (say E:\data\outlook) to hold the PST files and move them there from C:
  3. Copy the new E:\data\outlook with <Ctrl+C>, then switch to C:\Documents and Settings\you\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft and with Edit > Paste special > Folder junction > Paste menu create the new junction point. Call it Outlook just like the original.
  4. Now the path C:\Documents and Settings\you\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook would really be E:\data\outlook

In a similar fashion you can redirect many other system folders and reclaim space on the system partition C:. See more in today's demo video

Could you have done the same with hard links? You could create a hard link on the actual PST file and move it to a different folder, but hard links are limited to the same partition so you couldn't free space from C:. Quite possibly you could do it in Vista using its symbolic links that can span partitions, but that I haven't tried. You can create hard and symbolic links using commands under Paste special menu.

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