SSD Optimizations with Symbolic Links

Solid State Drives (SSDs) have become extremely popular due to their speed, low power use, and reliability. However, they are typically contain much less space than equivalently priced hard-disk drives (HDDs). Windows users can use symbolic links to move some data onto cheaper HDDs. This helps to prolong the useful life of SSDs, since unnecessary data does not take up limited space and since this greater free space on SSDs should result in better write management.

Windows Vista and up supports symbolic links, which can be created using the “mklink” command in cmd.exe. Be sure to run it in Administrator mode, which can be accessed by typing “cmd.exe” into the Start Menu Search bar and right clicking on the “cmd.exe” shortcut.

Some useful things to take off of your SSD are:

  • Microsoft Office’s MSOCache
  • The Windows Installer folder
  • Unnecessary Windows driver DLLs

The MSOCache is generally only useful for updating Office using Microsoft Update, and unnecessary driver DLLs are generally never accessed.

The Windows Installer folder is necessary for installing and uninstalling updates, but it can be offloaded to another drive, as it is not often used.

The MSOCache optimization is easily done, but the DLL optimization requires another program: DLLArchive.

To work with the MSOCache, first copy the MSOCache folder onto another drive and note the location. Then, open cmd.exe in Administrator mode. Input this mklink command:

mklink /D “C:\MSOCache” “D:\New\Folder\For\MSOCache”

The /D option creates a symbolic link joining the two folders and is necessary for working with folders. mklink with no operators only modifies files.

To work with DLL Archive, first download the program here. Next, create a DLLArchive folder on another drive. After you open cmd.exe, run this mklink command:

mklink /D “C:\Windows\DLLArchive” “D:\New\Folder\For\DLLArchive”

When you run DLL Archive, your unnecessary driver DLLs should then be placed on the separate drive. Users may want to run DLL Archive regularly, as Windows updates replace some of the removed DLL files.

By using these two tweaks, users could realize several GBs worth of space savings. I’m sure others will find other creative ways to save space as well. However, be aware that the greater interdependencies between different data volumes results in more complicated data recovery if a drive fails. In essence, don’t go overboard.

For more information on mklink and the /D, /J, and /H options, please visit these sites: MSDN Blog, MSDN, Wikipedia. Credits to this site for the MSOCache tip.