Windows 8 and Symbolic Links


  • I have an issue with Win8 and symbolic links.

    I have a computer that came preinstalled with Win8 and had a funny HDD configuration, so I used symlinks to put certain directories on the larger HDD in the tower.  No big, worked like a charm.

    Recently, I've found that there are certain Windows Updates that fail no matter what different things I try in order to resolve the issue.  I try to counteract one error code, another pops up.  This has now come to a head as I need the updates to install Win8.1, and I can't get them to work.

    I considered disabling the symlinks and then redoing them after the upgrade, but I feel as though that could potentially cause more harm than good.  I'm not exactly sure what files the updates and the Win8.1 upgrade will change, and I don't want to take the risk of breaking everything.

    Is there a known way to address this issue?  I've tried looking at various resources online, but nothing gave me a definitive answer.  I'm sure someone's come across this issue before - the updates have been out since at least the beginning of October.

    Since I don't have the computer in front of me right now, I can't provide the specific update or error code information, but I'll update sometime tonight as soon as I have access.  For now, I'm just trying to see if anyone has found ways around this issue, as symlinks are pretty common.

    Friday, October 25, 2013 9:36 PM

All replies

  • The upgrade only worked when all system data are on Drive C: (User profiles, Program files, ProgramData). Undo the links upgrade to 8.1, and recreate them.

    "A programmer is just a tool which converts caffeine into code"

    Saturday, October 26, 2013 6:31 AM
  • See

    Also see  The quote below is from the TechNet article. 

    Using this setting to redirect folders to a drive other than the system volume blocks upgrades. Using ProfilesDirectory to point to a directory that is not the system volume will block SKU upgrades and upgrades to future versions of Windows. For example if you use Windows Vista Home Premium with ProfilesDirectory set to D:\, you will not be able to upgrade to Windows Vista Ultimate or to the next version of Windows. The servicing stack does not handle cross-volume transactions, and it blocks upgrades.

    Although the above article references Windows Vista, the information is valid for all versions (6.x.yyyy) of Windows.

    In short, redirecting the c:\users directory via the mklink command is not a Microsoft recommended or supported solution.  There are, however, ways of getting your profile data to reside in a location of your choosing.  What you have to do is not symlink the \users directory, but each symlink the user's profile directory.  On my Dell Precision M6600 with a 256 GB SSD (c:\) and a 750 GB (d:\) secondary hard drive, I have my profile symliked to the d:\users directory.  Using this method, everything works including all Windows updates.  This also allows me save precious SSD space.

    However, using the above workaround only works on "configured" users.  When a different user logs on, their profile will by default be located on c:\users\newuser.  I would have to manually syslink that directory if necessary.

    • Edited by DarienHawk67 Saturday, October 26, 2013 3:22 PM Clarification and added info
    Saturday, October 26, 2013 3:17 PM
  • symlink, symlinked? Why not just do it in the register and be done with it? I can't believe there is all these OEM systems / laptops out there configured is way from the OEM and all of this is going on to make it work for us!
    Saturday, October 26, 2013 4:02 PM
  • Ok, thanks.  I'll look into this and report back.  My main concern is that undoing the symlinks for the upgrade will make it difficult to link them again afterward, especially if I change the links to the setup you recommended.  But this is a great starting point for me regardless.  I appreciate it.
    Sunday, October 27, 2013 4:48 AM