Moving Windows Documents folder to external drive via symbolic link

Introduction

A lot of newer notebooks come with a rather small SSD.

To save space, the ‘symbolic link’ method gives you the possibility to move game user data (like save games) to an external drive if the room on your system drive is getting scarce.

  1. You will get longer loading times if you use an external drive that is significantly slower than the internal one.
  2. I would not recommend using the symbolic link method with a USB 2.0 hard drive (unless there’s no other way)
  3. Make sure the external drive is plugged in and recognized by the system before you start the game.
  4. To get rid of the symbolic link, use this command: rmdir “Path to the symbolic link” in a command prompt with admin rights as described below.
  5. If you have a second internal harddrive or a second partition on your main harddrive that has enough space, it’s recommended to move the entire Windows documents folder to that drive. This has the advantage that it is done by a function provided in Windows and frees up a lot more space on the c drive. A good tutorial for that can be found here: How to Move Your Documents Folder Location in Windows
  6. If you use multiple USB devices and often pull and plug them back in, make sure you do so in the same order. The drive letter is essential for this method to work and needs to stay the same.
  7. Doing the symbolic link method is done at your own risk. The method requires computer knowledge and is not recommended for beginners.

Steps

Make sure to create a backup of the folder you want to move with a symbolic link and read instructions in full before starting.

The method is explained with the example of Sims 4 but should work accordingly with any other game or application that has data in the documents folder. All you need to find out is in which folder the data is store and then do the instructions for that folder.

  1. Make sure Origin (or other gaming clients) are closed
  2. Move the folder The Sims 4 folder  from C:\Users\<your user name>\ Documents\Electronic Arts\ to their new destination (in the example, that will be the external drive E:\)
    To do so, right-Click on the Sims 4 folder in C:\Users\<your user name>\ Documents\Electronic Arts\ and choose Cut
  3. Navigate to the external drive that you want to use and right-click in the main menu and choose Paste

    You should now not see a Sims 4 folder in C:\Users\<your user name>\ Documents\Electronic Arts\ anymore but one on the new drive that you picked.
  4. Create an empty text file and copy the following line into the file
    MKLINK /J “%UserProfile%\Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 4” <Path of the Sims folder on your external drive>
    (replace <Path of the Sims folder on your external drive> with the actual path of the moved Sims 4 folder.
    For the above example, the path is E:\The Sims 4
    So this would be the full command for the example.
    MKLINK /J “%UserProfile%\Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 4” “E:\The Sims 4”
  5. Press and type CMD > Right-click on Command Prompt in the Search Results > Run as Administrator
  6. Copy the command line you saved in the text document after the prompt.
    Highlight MKLINK /J “%UserProfile%\Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 4” “E:\The Sims 4” in the text document (make sure to adjust the path of the folder to fit your needs) > Right-click on the highlighted text and choose Copy > Activate the Command Prompt window > Right-Click on the command prompt Window
  7. Press ENTER
    You should now see the following in the command prompt window
    “Connection created for %UserProfile%\Documents\Electronic Arts\The Sims 4″ <<===>> E:\The Sims 4“ (for your path)
    You should now see a link to the Sims 4 folder in your Documents\Electronic Arts folder
  8. That’s it

If you now start the game, you should have all your saves and all other user data like it was before.

Further Reading