NTFS Hard Link, Junction Point and Symbolic Link

There are three types of file links supported in the NTFS file system: hard links, junctions, and symbolic links. Use symbolic links if your system version is higher than Windows Vista.

Comparison of NTFS Hard Link, Junction Point and Symbolic Link

Hard Link Junction Point (Soft Link) Symbolic Link
OS Support Windows NT4 Windows 2000 and Windows XP Windows Vista
Target files on the same drive (volume) files or directories (paths) on local computer any path; local or remote, relative or absolute SMB file or path
Command mklink /H linkName target mklink /J linkName target mklink /D linkName target
Limitations Any changes to target file are instantly visible to hard links that reference it.However, the directory entry size and attribute information is updated only for the link through which the change was made. not work at boot and impossible to redirect:

  • folder containing hiberfile.sys
  • \Windows
  • \Windows\System32
  • \Windows\Config
  • same as junction point.
  • Symbolic links can point to non-existent targets because the operating system does not check to see if the target exists.
Others You can delete hard links in any order regardless of the order in which they are created. A junction (also called a soft link) differs from a hard link in that the storage objects it references are separate directories, and a junction can link directories located on different local volumes on the same computer. Otherwise, junctions operate identically to hard links. Symbolic links are 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 UNIX operating systems. Microsoft has implemented its symbolic links to function just like UNIX links.
  1. Junction points are a type of NTFS reparse point.
Hard vs Symbolic Links

Hard vs Symbolic Links