Extend space of a Bootcamp partition with symbolic links (Win7)

March 8th, 2013 by Mark Nanut Leave a reply »

symlink Are you running a dual boot configuration (OSX and Windows 7), presumably not on a very large SSD drive, and are often running out of space on a Windows 7 bootcamp partition? Instead of resizing the partition, there is a more simple solution – move some of the files from bootcamp partition to another partition/drive and provide a symbolic link to them.

If you use your Windows 7 bootcamp installation for gaming, then you probably ran into low disk space issue more than once, had to delete/uninstall games in order to install another one or temporarily move game files to another drive only to copy them back later. Fortunately, ever since symbolic links have been introduced into Windows 7, you can leave game files or directories elsewhere and simply provide a symbolic link to them. Have in mind that this will work only with Windows 7 installed, not with Windows XP (which doesn’t have symbolic linking).

Moving files to a read-only HFS+ partition (instead of NTFS or FAT32)

Sure, moving files to another NTFS or FAT32 partition and symlinking to them seems like an obvious first choice. But what is actually interesting (and since we’re discussing Mac environment here – is more relevant) is that this workaround with symbolic links will also work if you move files to a HFS+ (OSX) partition (copy them within OSX from a Bootcamp partition to a OSX partition). As you already know, Bootcamp provides a AppleHFS driver which enables Windows to read data (but not write) from an OSX partition. So in order for this to work, the files and directories you move to an HFS+ partition from Windows should be only those that need to be accessed for reading – and game files are usually such. While you might not be able to move complete game install folders to a HFS+ location (there are also files there that need to be written to), experiment a bit and find out which are those folders that include data which is only accessed for reading.

For instance: my bootcamp partition is only 55 GB. What I “want to fit” on it is a Battlefield 3 installation (some 30GB), Win7 system (some 15 GB), other games (30+ GB), VMWare with Mountain Lion (10 GB), other programs (5 GB), …you figured it out, the math doesn’t work. So I solved this limitation by moving a couple of Battlefield 3 (already installed) expansions to a HFS+ drive. As mentioned before, this can’t be done from Windows, you need to boot into OSX and drag files from a windows partition over to a OSX partition.

For instance, I copied over to OSX partition two Battlefield 3 expansion packs – folders “Xpack2″ and “Xpack3″ (Close Quarters and Armored Kill) from “C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin Games\Battlefield 3\Update\”. After copying your gigabytes, boot back into Windows and delete the original folders (in this case “Xpack2″ and “Xpack3″) on the Windows partition – we’ll make symbolic directory links instead of them.

BF3

To do so, open the command prompt and navigate to the folder where you want to place symbolic links. In my case I’ll type:

cd “C:\Program Files (x86)\Origin Games\Battlefield 3\Update\”

and here create a symbolic directory link for game folder “Xpack2″ which will point to a actual “Xpack2″ folder on the OSX HFS+ partition (which shows as drive F: in Windows in my case):

mklink /d Xpack2 F:\BF3files\Xpack2

Just mind the path – I placed my “Xpack2″ folder into a “BF3files” folder I specifically created for this.

All in all, your symlink should be successfully created and some of the game files will be therefore read from another partition while playing a specific game.

This workaround will also work with external drives and such, provided the drive letter of an external drive remains constant and identical to the one specified in the symbolic link.

Using this solution, my SSD Windows 7 partition is only 80% full (say 45 GB out of 55 GB), and I have some 43 GB of game files (BF3 expansions, full games BFBC2, BioShock, ArmA 2, Trine 2, Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 4) placed to and read from another HFS+ partition – it is actually a HFS+ partition on a secondary optibay internal HDD drive, but you could well use also a HFS+ partition on the primary SSD drive, if you have enough space there of course.

Have fun!

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