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Old Mar 15, 2010, 04:31 PM   #1
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HiThere
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Default Junction Points - save untold space on your SSD by lying to Windows

Earlier today, I posted some info concerning junction points in a thread about SSD's. I'm still kinda noob when it comes to File System stuff, so forgive me if it's old news to some/most readers.

I thought this info would be useful to those looking to save space on their system ("C:") drive, particularly in the case where the user has a shiny new SSD or small Raptor they want their OS on, but they don't necessarily have room for every program they want installed. Installing to another drive can work, but often leads to problems. Program folders that are moved willy-nilly to other directories after being installed will usually create problems of their own, or require changed settings, re-installs, etc.

Junction points are an easy way around this. With junction points, a program is no longer chained to a particular folder on a drive...even after it is installed.

Junction points are implemented in the NTFS file system in use by current versions of Windows (XP on up), but are independent of the operating system itself. They work very much like the shortcuts we use every day to refer to locations on the hard drive, but the difference is that they work on folders at the File System level, as opposed to the Operating System level.

What this means is that junction points free you to move an existing folder, which may contain programs, ini's, dll's, config files, etc., onto a different drive or location. Once you create a junction point in the old folder location, but pointing to the new location, the Operating System will carry on blissfully unaware that you have done anything. Any existing shortcuts you have to programs in the old folder locations will still work. When you open those programs, all the supporting files they rely on will still function correctly. Anything attempting to write to, or read from, the old folder location actually ends up using the new one.

In effect, the NTFS file system has the capability to lie to the operating system about where folders actually reside.

For example, one could install the game Oblivion to C:, pick up the entire "Oblivion" directory, and move it to another drive, thereby saving all that space on C:. Once the junction point is created, the game will run normally, but load from the other drive. No changing start menu/desktop shortcuts, no registry edits, no settings changes to other programs that write to the same directories, etc. are necessary.

It sounds like it would involve a complicated process, but it doesn't. It basically amounts to a line of code in a command prompt. In fact, if you are running Windows Vista or 7, you probably already have a few junction points defined on your machine, and you may even have moved the directories they point to. The locations of your "My Documents" folders, etc., are defined by junction points and these locations can be changed via the Properties-->"location" tab for the folder. Note that even if you change the locations via the properties dialog, your shortcuts to "My Documents" still function, and programs such as games, Office, etc. that rely on those folders still know where to put stuff.

Anyway, here is a thread over at HardOCP describing junction points and how to use them:

http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1482722 (note you do not have to mount the drive to a folder, as described...you can make junction points work without this step).

Here is a useful tool for creating junction points to do what you want:

http://blogs.msdn.com/e7/archive/200...isk-space.aspx

Here is a Wikipedia article on the subject:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NTFS_junction_point
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Last edited by HiThere : Mar 15, 2010 at 11:13 PM.
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Old Mar 23, 2010, 06:11 AM   #2
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Wonder if this works for moving a game out of the steamapps dir onto the SSD drive.
As it is, my Steam dir is friggin huge, and wont fit on a SSD drive.
But it´d be neat to move the game you are currently playing the most over to the SSD, like Bad Company 2 atm.
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Old Mar 23, 2010, 10:54 AM   #3
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Good thing Microsoft implemented a 30 years old "invention" in the end ;-)
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Old Mar 23, 2010, 12:12 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daPhoenix View Post
Good thing Microsoft implemented a 30 years old "invention" in the end ;-)
ya rly
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Old Mar 27, 2010, 04:16 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jolle View Post
Wonder if this works for moving a game out of the steamapps dir onto the SSD drive.
As it is, my Steam dir is friggin huge, and wont fit on a SSD drive.
But it´d be neat to move the game you are currently playing the most over to the SSD, like Bad Company 2 atm.
I don't see why not, so long as you are moving folders in their entirety...I don't think there's any way for a folder to straddle two drives using junction points...
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Old Mar 27, 2010, 05:12 PM   #6
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If say you install STEAM to your OS SSD, and you create a junction point for the steamapps COMMON folder, when you run low on space on your OS drive you won't be able to download games because the install drive doesn't have enough space, despite having tens of GB's for the application to actually download into.
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Old Mar 27, 2010, 11:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by caveman-jim View Post
If say you install STEAM to your OS SSD, and you create a junction point for the steamapps COMMON folder, when you run low on space on your OS drive you won't be able to download games because the install drive doesn't have enough space, despite having tens of GB's for the application to actually download into.
The way I understand it, yes, an installer or what have you will check space on the SSD before installation and quit out if you try to do the above (install to a junction point when you have enough space on the non-OS drive, but not enough space on the SSD). So long as you have the space to install each individual game on the OS SSD, however, you can install and recoup that space immediately after. It works in certain situations, but in the above situation, it's a double-edged sword.

The solution for the above is to keep at least enough space on the SSD to install the "next" program you forsee...there's nothing to keep you from installing to SteamApps one at a time, moving each successive directory within off board via a junction point, then moving to the next install, etc. Just don't move the whole steamapps folder over and expect to re-install every steam game you ever had all at once. At no time will Windows report the space on your OS drive incorrectly, it just won't be aware of the scads of space on your non-OS drive for your next 10 Steam installs all pointing at C:/. If you want to trade apps back and forth, keep the steamapps folder on your system drive, but move the directories within off one at a time after each is installed. Then, you can mix and match as you please.
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Old Mar 28, 2010, 02:17 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jolle View Post
Wonder if this works for moving a game out of the steamapps dir onto the SSD drive.
As it is, my Steam dir is friggin huge, and wont fit on a SSD drive.
But it´d be neat to move the game you are currently playing the most over to the SSD, like Bad Company 2 atm.
Here is how you move steam games:

http://www.heartlessgamer.com/2009/1...o-another.html

(I also sent you a PM with the link, just in case you never see this)
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