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Beginning with Windows Vista NTFS gained the ability to represent symbolic links to files (as opposed to directory junctions). Also the mklink utility appeared. However, non-administrative users can't create symbolic links by default. Any insights on why that may be so? I mean, what kind of damage could a user do with symlinks he can't do with hardlinks or directory junctions (both of which can be created without administrative privileges without problems)?

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up vote 12 down vote accepted

Symlinks are actually less dangerous than hardlinks, true. I don't think the issue here is security but administrative efficiency. I think Microsoft made the right decision as it will drive sysadmin nuts when users start to create symlinks everywhere without knowing what they are doing.

In Mac OS, shortcuts are symlinks. So conceptually it's less confusing, since it's been like that since the beginning. And for Linux fans, you don't need to be told what are symlinks. ;-)

But it's not true for Windows. Imagine explaining to the average user the difference between a good old Windows shortcut, a symlink and directory junction/hardlink and you'll soon realize that giving such power to the masses will be opening a huge can of wriggly tech support worms.

That's my two cents.

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and that's why windows ain't for SUPERusers :-) –  Sander Versluys Jul 22 '09 at 12:30
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Actually, finding the mklink command is probably something the average user won't ever do. So the only kind of "link" a normal user will ever face is Ye Olde Shell Link. So for the great majority of users there wouldn't be a need of explaining symlinks vs. shell links vs. reparse points as there is (rightfully so, probably) no easily accessible method of creating other kinds of links. Still, that doesn't really explain why normal users can create hardlinks and junction points but no symlinks. I'd really like to, sometimes. –  Јοеу Jul 22 '09 at 12:48
    
Good point Johannes. –  GeneQ Jul 22 '09 at 12:53
    
Since this is wiki, let's make this the super answer. –  random Jul 22 '09 at 13:22
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I consider myself a power user, yet until this question, I thought junctions ARE symlinks! (any link for the difference between them and symlinks?) –  hasenj Jul 24 '09 at 6:22
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