Are there performance or permission or other considerations to think about when using a mklink path to a network share versus just a straight UNC path (or mapped drive for that matter).

For example, can these three ways of accessing a network resource be considered functionally equivalent and roughly interchangeable?

mklink /d c:\shares\warehouse \\server1\warehouse
xcopy /s c:\shares\warehouse d:\temp\warehouse_copy


xcopy /s \\server1\warehouse d:\temp\warehouse_copy


net use X: \\server1\warehouse
xcopy /s X:\ d:\temp\warehouse_copy

Server is Windows 2003, clients are Win7 Pro. Network is mostly gigabit, though there are few 100mbit laggards here and there. I used a cmd shell in the example because it's easiest to explain, in practice the resource would be accessed by a variety of other methods also (Windows Explorer, Office "open" dialogs, system backup services, etc.)

  • possibly related to the performance aspect, serverfault.com/questions/411110/… (though it's unclear from the answer if this is specific to symbolic links or a general MS-Office and network paths consideration) – matt wilkie Sep 30 '13 at 20:41
  • some posts here, in 22-Jul-2011 indicate a potential issue with symbolic network links: "...linked folders are not watched in realtime, so the software doesn't see when files are changed or added. Only scanning them (verify selection) finds the changes in these folders.". This could be a real problem with large file collections (but perhaps mapped drives and UNC are also susceptible, so it's all a wash?) – matt wilkie Sep 30 '13 at 21:44
  • See also superuser.com/questions/210824/… – Vadzim Jul 5 '16 at 11:03

I would strongly recommend NOT using symbolic links that have a remote target. My rationale being that a symbolic link makes an entry in the NTFS Master File Table, and although not substantiated, I reckon this could cause issues when performing low-level NTFS MFT operations (such as an offline CHKDSK).

As for performance, I can't see that there would be any difference at all. Both result in SMB traffic. The symbolic link route has to go via a redirection (handled by NTFS.SYS), but the "latency" here will be many thousands times smaller than any subsequent network delays...

  • 3
    You reckon? Any actual evidence one way or another? – Mark Oct 3 '15 at 17:22
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    I've had to do this for sharing drives with a service. Net shares are (apparently) not visible/available to services, but since the symbolic link is an actual file system entry it works. – TMN Oct 20 '15 at 14:00
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    Been doing this for a couple years, in production, on multiple workstations and servers and not had a single issue. – rainabba Dec 31 '16 at 6:55

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