Suppose I have a folder under partition D that is D:\folder\link_folder which is a directory symbolic link whose target is E:\real_folder, i.e. it was created by:

mklink /d D:\folder\link_folder E:\real_folder

Now I need to move D:\folder to F:\ by the Explorer UI like cut/paste. But I found that now there is a full copy of E:\real_folder under F:\folder\link_folder which is not a link anymore.

Is there a way to just create F:\folder\link_folder as a link to E:\real_folder during the folder move process? There is a lot of such links under D:\folder.

  • How did you try, with Explorer or with Some Commander? Perhaps you could try doing it from WSL: unix products do know the concept of symlinks. – Lorinczy Zsigmond Aug 27 '19 at 4:05
  • Why can’t you delete the symbolic link, move the files, then recreate the symbolic link? – Ramhound Aug 27 '19 at 4:31
  • @Ramhound There are a lot of symbolic links. Want a command/flag that can just move the symbolic link which is as expected by the user. – jw_ Aug 27 '19 at 5:35

You can use robocopy to move folders that contain directory symbolic links by using the /move /SL and /e parameters. Following your example, you could then use the command as follows:

robocopy D:\folder F:\folder /move /e /SL

/move will move the target instead of copy.

/e will copy (move) all sub-directories including empty ones.

/SL will copy (move) the symbolic link instead of following it.

note: elevated command prompt is required for moving symbolic links in windows 10.

note: For symbolic links created using mklink /d.

References: Microsoft Docs robocopy contains syntax and details on robocopy, examples can be found at Technet robocopy examples. Related forum post on copying directory symlinks in Windows 7.

  • The strange thing is that if I don't do this with a administrator command window it will say like "client doesn't have the privilege, waiting for 30 seconds", even I'm testing your solution with newly created simple folders. I don't want to use administrator command windows since this may somehow polute the moved files's ownerships etc. – jw_ Aug 31 '19 at 7:50
  • Maybe you can check this question too: superuser.com/questions/1476047/… – jw_ Aug 31 '19 at 7:53
  • You can use the/copy:parameter to specify what file properties to copy (move). By default, it uses/copy:DAT(Data, Attributes, Timestamp), you can add the O flag to copy and thus preserve the ownership, so it would be/copy:DATO. The Microsoft Docs Robocopy page has description for the various flags for/copy:and the corresponding file properties in case there are other access controls you need to to move with the file. – Gen Test Sep 1 '19 at 10:16
  • What about why it reports the previlege error even I test the command on some newly created folders? – jw_ Sep 2 '19 at 2:55
  • My apologies, it appears that post windows 10 creator's update, enabling developer mode first will then allow moving/creating symlinks without elevated privileges. Otherwise you will still need elevated privileges. I'll update the answer. – Gen Test Sep 2 '19 at 3:09

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