As an IT admin, it can be difficult to determine if a link is a symbolic, hard, or directory junction. While all three of these options are similar, they have some distinct characteristics that can help you decide which type of link you are dealing with.
A symbolic link is a type of link that points to another file or directory. It acts as an alias for the original file or directory and allows you to access the same data using a different name. Symbolic links are commonly used for convenience, as it allows you to store multiple versions of the same file in different locations without having to create multiple copies. Symbolic links are also useful if you want to access files on another system or network drive.
A hard link is a type of link that points to an exact copy of a file or directory. Unlike symbolic links, hard links are not aliases and cannot be used to access data from different locations. When creating a hard link, you are essentially creating a duplicate of the original file or directory. This duplication allows you to access the same data from two different locations, but the original file or directory is not modified in any way.
Finally, a directory junction is a type of link that points to a directory. Unlike symbolic and hard links, directory junctions are not used to access data from different locations. Instead, they are used to create a shortcut to a directory so that users can access its contents without having to navigate through the entire directory tree. Directory junctions can be used to create shortcuts to frequently accessed directories or to provide access to directories that are not normally accessible.
To determine if a link is a symbolic, hard, or directory junction, you will need to examine the properties of the link. In Windows, you can right-click on the link and select Properties. In the Properties window, you will see a field called \Target type\. This field will tell you what type of link the link is. If it is a symbolic link, it will say \Symbolic link\. If it is a hard link, it will say \Hard link\. And if it is a directory junction, it will say \Directory junction\.
Once you have identified the type of link, you can then decide how to use it. Symbolic links are best used for convenience and to access data from different locations. Hard links are best used for file duplication and to access the same data from two different locations. And directory junctions are best used for shortcuts and to access directories that are not normally accessible.