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Symbolic links (symlinks) deleted during upgrade to Windows 7 [known problem]

    Question

  • I've just upgrade two systems from Windows Vista SP2 to Windows 7 (both Ultimate). On both systems, I have symlinks throughout the system for various purposes, and on both systems, symbolic links were removed as part of the installation.  Not all symbolic links were removed. Symbolic links in the root seem to be untouched. Additionally, some symbolic links in folders not created by Windows were untouched (e.g. c:\vms\MyVM\Backup.vmdk). However, it appears all symbolic links were removed from the following directories and their children:

    - C:\Users
    - C:\Program Files
    - C:\Program Files (x86)
    - C:\ProgramData

    No mention was made during the upgrade advisor of symlinks being removed. Neither was any indication left of which symlinks were removed. Therefore, I'm left to just see what breaks, track it down, and replace the symlinks.

    Is this by design?  If so, it would be nice for Windows to at least inform the user that they will be deleted and report on what symlinks are affected (even a text file on the desktop indicating "deleted symlinks" with the location and target).
    • Edited by Jason R. Coombs Friday, October 30, 2009 3:05 PM changed title to reflect result
    Wednesday, October 28, 2009 4:09 PM

All replies

  • Hi Jason

    This is the first time I have seen this particular behavior reported.

    I'm not sure why the symlinks would have been replaced in those folders, except to say that those are all system folders and it could be that the installer removed them simply because it did not recognize those symlinks as being part of the 'normal' configuration or possibly because they conflicted with a system created symlink?

    The use of symlinks by end users is still not very widespread and the main way the system uses them is for backward compatibility with legacy program installs.

    If you could give an example of some of the symlink locations and targets that you created, we might be able to determine the reason they were broken.

    Hope this helps.

    Thank You for using Windows 7

    Ronnie Vernon MVP





    Thursday, October 29, 2009 1:32 PM
  • Here are some examples of the symlinks that were removed

    mklink /d "c:\Program Files\svn" "c:\Program Files\SlikSVN"
    mklink /d c:\ProgramData\Certificates C:\Users\jaraco\config\Certificates
    mklink /d c:\Users\jaraco\Public C:\Users\Public
    mklink "c:\Program Files (x86)\OpenVPN\config\COMPANY.ovpn" "c:\Users\jaraco\config\MACHINE\Open VPN\COMPANY.ovpn"
    mklink /d c:\Users\jaraco\.m2\repository "C:\mnt\el scorcho\repository"
    mklink /d C:\Users\jaraco\videos\rips D:\rips
    Thursday, October 29, 2009 1:46 PM
  • Hi Jason

    I don't see anything in those paths that should cause a conflict or problem?

    I just ran   DIR /aL /s > c:\users\<username>\Desktop\ReparsePoints.txt on a new Windows 7 Ultimate system here and it appears that there is only one Symbolic Link on the system ( All Users [C:\ProgramData] )and all the rest are Junctions.

    If you would like to give some feedback about this behavior, you can post a message in the following thread. Include all of the details about what you experienced and what you would like to see happen.

    Have Comments about Windows 7? (Part 2 - Do not post questions in this thread)

    We can escalate it from there and make sure the product team gets a look at it.

    Hope this helps.

    Thank You for using Windows 7

    Ronnie Vernon MVP 


    Thursday, October 29, 2009 2:46 PM
  • Thanks. I didn't realize there was a single thread for feedback. I posted my comment there.
    Friday, October 30, 2009 3:02 PM
  • To be clear, Microsoft-created symlinks were not removed (or they were removed and recreated). It was the user-created symlinks that were removed.
    Friday, October 30, 2009 3:07 PM
  • This continues to be a problem. Recently, my package store for updates got corrupted and I had to do an "in-place upgrade". As a result, I reinstalled Windows 7 64-bit SP1 over an install of Windows 7 64-bit SP1. As part of this upgrade, Windows lost all of the user-created symlinks, including symlinks in my Dropbox. This caused Dropbox to detect that the folders were no longer present, and it deleted 50,660 files.

    This isn't just a minor inconvenience. It's a hassle. At the very least, Microsoft should include this test in the Windows Compatibility Report to inform the user which symlinks will be removed as part of the installation. Even better would be to not remove them at all.

    You suggested this might be escalated from the feedback thread, but as you can see, for SP1, nothing was done. Is there anyway this can be at least considered for SP2 or the next version of Windows?
    • Edited by Jason R. Coombs Thursday, August 11, 2011 1:10 PM followed up with a question
    Thursday, August 11, 2011 1:06 PM