SSD advice: using junctions to move games/applications

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SSD advice: using junctions to move games/applications

Postposted on Wed Jul 20, 2011 9:21 am

SSD advice: Using junctions to seamlessly move games/applications between drives

This guide is about folder junctions (aka symbolic links), and how to use them to move a folder to another drive without interrupting the operation of any programs that make use of that directory. It is designed to help solve the problem that has arisen with SSDs: using some games/programs on one drive and others on another, especially in (but not limited to) situations involving Valve’s Steam, Electronic Arts’ Origin, or similar services. The reason for this is because, at the time of writing, most SSDs aren’t large enough in capacity to support much more than an operating system, a collection of basic applications, and a few games, requiring the user to split the data to best effect. Given that Steam/Origin/others rely on having all their data inside a single directory, we need a way to do that. For best effect, you should focus on keeping your most-used games on the SSD.

And you’re in luck! Microsoft provides NTFS level support for folder junctions (which are a form of symbolic links, in Unix/Mac parlance) for individual folders. Think of junctions as file system level shortcuts - only the operating system knows that the affected file or folder is actually somewhere else, and it is presented to the application as if it is where the link is placed. For example, you can link “C:\Games\Call of Duty” to “E:\CoD”. If done correctly, which is the point of this guide to explain, the application remains unaware that the file or folder actually points to somewhere else, and continues to operate business as usual.

One thing Microsoft did not do for you, however, is provide a tool for creating symbolic links. While you can create them through the command line interface cmd.exe using the mklink command, an open source tool released under the GPL has been built to handle this for you called Symlinker, which will be the focus of this thread.

There are twelve steps (just like most alcohol addiction recovery programs – ed.) to creating a folder junction symbolic link with Symlinker.

1. Close whichever game manager, if any, is responsible for the game you which to move to the SSD.
2. Copy the desired game folder from where it’s installed to a spot on the faster SSD. Something simple like C:\Symlinked\ will work.
3. Delete the source folder when you’ve verified a good copy - you cannot create a folder junction in a location that contains a folder of the same name.
4. Create the folder junction in Symlinker. To do this, download and open the file as linked above, and:
5. Set the type of symbolic link that you want to create to Folder symbolic link
6. Under ‘Destination Folder’, in the ‘Select the type of link’ drop down, select ‘Directory Junction’
7. Under ‘Link Folder’, click Explore… and select the parent folder of the folder you deleted in step 2
8. Under ‘Destination Folder’, click Explore… and select the folder on the SSD that you copied in step 1
9. Select the name of the folder only, starting from the right and stopping just short of the first backslash, and copy to the clipboard-
10. Back under ‘Link Folder,’ paste the folder name in the field labeled ‘Now give a name to the link:’-
11. Click ‘Create Link’ at the bottom, and acknowledge the confirmation popup
12. If the link was successfully created, start up your game manager, and test the game in question!

Note: Symlinker will tell you that it was successful even if it fails sometimes - you will know that you used it correctly if:
a) There is a folder with a shortcut symbol on its icon in the original installed directory, named the same as the folder it replaced
b) By clicking on it, you are taken to the folder's new location.

This has been tested by the author with Steam, EA Download Manager and EA Origin.

Under Steam:
1. Bad Company 2/Vietnam
2. Rift
3. Left4Dead2

Under EA Origin:
1. Bad Company 2/Vietnam
2. Latest Medal of Honor SP/MP
3. Dragon Age II

Conclusion: As usual, comments, success stories, and thanks are welcome. If you have issues, please post in detail below!
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Re: SSD advice: using junctions to move games/applications

Postposted on Tue Aug 02, 2011 7:18 pm

There's a helpful tool if you use Steam, http://www.traynier.com/software/steammover. It doesn't move the Steam installation, it creates reparse points for the individual games on whatever drives you choose. It worked for me.
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Re: SSD advice: using junctions to move games/applications

Postposted on Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:29 am

Here's another tool for managing Steam game directories: SteamTool Library Manager. Works on a game-by-game basis.
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Re: SSD advice: using junctions to move games/applications

Postposted on Sat Feb 11, 2012 8:10 am

Fastfreak39: I feel like they should change the phrase "jumping on the band wagon" to "sailing on the pirate ship"
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Re: SSD advice: using junctions to move games/applications

Postposted on Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:06 pm

I've been using mklink for a couple of years now since installing my first SSD in my home machine in order to make use of the secondary drive for my massive Steam collection - works wonderfully and is extremely easy to do. I usually use it in conjunction with robocopy to ensure everything is copied over correctly.
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Re: SSD advice: using junctions to move games/applications

Postposted on Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:53 pm

One can get a 240 gb SSD for about 150. Not the newest, greatest or fastest, but producing 80MBs 4k writes, 200MBs 4k reads ... it's more than adequate for anyone.200 MBs is 'good enough for everyone' ... even in this post 640k world. Screw the small SSD crap, buy something that can hold your OS and 180GB of games. Partition it out, no hit on creating multiple partitions on a single drive w/ a SSD, first sector, last sector, same read speed.

So, buy a 240gb ssd, 60gb for your boot, 180gb for your d:\games\steam directory.

Anything else? Stick in a 30 dollar 32gb USB readyboost USB drive.

Heck, one can get a OCZSSDPX-1RVD0240 for 175. That's 740MBs write 690MBs read for for 175.00 .... PCIEX 4x ... http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6820227579

For that price, and that drive, why even bother with junction points? Spend the coin, get the bragging rights and the speed.
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Re: SSD advice: using junctions to move games/applications

Postposted on Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:01 pm

You're assuming that ~240GB is enough for anyone- and that everyone wants to deal with a Revodrive, let alone OCZ.

It may not be typical, but I know that my Steam directory exceeds 180GB. And then there's Origin, and Blizzard games; the reality is, until SSDs get quite a bit larger and cheaper at the same time, most people are still going to be splitting stuff between a smaller SSD and a larger HDD.
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Re: SSD advice: using junctions to move games/applications

Postposted on Mon Sep 10, 2012 10:13 pm

"Deal with a RevoDrive"

I'm assuming by your response, you have one? If so, what's been it's negatives for you? I'd own this if it had been on sale two weeks ago when I bought my Corsair 240GB SSD.

Origin & Blizzard games. They exceed 180gb in space? ****, the D3 install is what, 7.6gb? Wow Maxed out on expansions is what? 33gb? Once again, how many different games do you play in a week?

Airmantharp wrote:You're assuming that ~240GB is enough for anyone- and that everyone wants to deal with a Revodrive, let alone OCZ.

It may not be typical, but I know that my Steam directory exceeds 180GB. And then there's Origin, and Blizzard games; the reality is, until SSDs get quite a bit larger and cheaper at the same time, most people are still going to be splitting stuff between a smaller SSD and a larger HDD.
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Re: SSD advice: using junctions to move games/applications

Postposted on Tue Sep 11, 2012 6:41 pm

DiMaestro wrote:"Deal with a RevoDrive"

I'm assuming by your response, you have one? If so, what's been it's negatives for you? I'd own this if it had been on sale two weeks ago when I bought my Corsair 240GB SSD.

Origin & Blizzard games. They exceed 180gb in space? ****, the D3 install is what, 7.6gb? Wow Maxed out on expansions is what? 33gb? Once again, how many different games do you play in a week?

Airmantharp wrote:You're assuming that ~240GB is enough for anyone- and that everyone wants to deal with a Revodrive, let alone OCZ.

It may not be typical, but I know that my Steam directory exceeds 180GB. And then there's Origin, and Blizzard games; the reality is, until SSDs get quite a bit larger and cheaper at the same time, most people are still going to be splitting stuff between a smaller SSD and a larger HDD.


You're missing the point entirely in order to argue with this thread's existence; it's called trolling, and no one here appreciates it (except you, apparently).

Sure, SSDs are getting cheaper every month, but they are still expensive on a per-GB basis when compared to HDDs. When that problem ceases to exist obviously the need for an HDD does as well, but don't expect it to happen in the next few years.

As it stands, allocating more of your budget for SSD space that you don't need doesn't make a whole lot of sense if you don't already have all of your bases covered and don't have money to throw around. It also makes sense to run an HDD alongside an SDD, as you're going to need the HDD anyway for data like documents, pictures, videos, or any programs or games you don't often use. Many games, including recent ones, don't even noticeably benefit from SSDs. If you have money to burn that's cool, but it's not a position we take when recommending components for a build.

So, if most people need an SSD and an HDD, why spend more on a larger SSD if they don't need the space? Even $50 freed up can make a huge difference in another component. That's why I wrote this guide, and it's why I'm responding to your trolling.

Further, if you knew anything about OCZ's past, you'd know that they're not well trusted in the SSD space. They led on technology and performance for several generations by being the first company to really embrace Sandforce's controllers, but they dropped the ball on customer support when the Sandforce-based drives they sold failed in droves (and droves). Even as their drives continue to perform admirably, their customer support has improved, and their products are recommended by reviewers, it's still very hard for many of us to stomach giving them money, especially when there are very high quality alternatives available.

And the Revodrive, wow. It's not a 'real' drive, it's a card with a PCIe bridge connecting a RAID array of SSD controllers that will never support Trim. That's a problem even if the Sandforce controllers have good garbage collection; they're not perfect, and if the drive is abused for it's super-fast read and write speeds, it'll still back itself into a corner and performance will plummet. So yeah, it's fast and useful for certain things, but man you'd never want one of the current ones as your system drive. Which means again, yeah, you need two drives!
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Re: SSD advice: using junctions to move games/applications

Postposted on Fri Oct 26, 2012 8:58 am

Personally I still use mklink. It's pretty easy and Steamtool and Steammover still use directory junctions (which Steam doesn't like last I checked) instead of symbolic links.
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Re: SSD advice: using junctions to move games/applications

Postposted on Sat Jan 12, 2013 3:52 am

well when i last did something similar i just created a shortcut link after copying the folder i wanted and using the paste shortcut command it worked just fine i dont see the need for all these softwares unless u have many of the games u want to move
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Re: SSD advice: using junctions to move games/applications

Postposted on Fri Dec 06, 2013 9:54 am

+1 on mklink.

Symlinker is just a front-end for mklink anyways, and whenever possible I try to avoid using external tools.
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Re: SSD advice: using junctions to move games/applications

Postposted on Fri Apr 18, 2014 7:11 pm

LinkShellExtension is nicer, with Explorer integration, including overlay icons for Junctions, symlinks, and hardlinks. I never understood why Microsoft never exposed this functionality in the GUI.
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Re: SSD advice: using junctions to move games/applications

Postposted on Sat Apr 19, 2014 9:59 am

Seemed like a nice thing, but mklink is by far the easist way if you are not alergic to the cli/shell/console/command line/etc

Although I usually do Junction links when moving directories for the origin installation. Although, just having installed a 480GB SSD coming from a 160GB one I have always left the 250GB Steam folder alone on the secondary velocitraptor(1TB) drive.
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