Invalid junction after moving "My Documents"?


Feb 6, 2013
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A number of months ago I followed the "standard" procedure (using the Location property tab) for moving my special folders out of c:\users\xxx to new locations under d:\xxx, where d: is a separate partition on the same hard drive as c:.

As far as I can remember, this generally worked, though it made a mess of AppData by moving only parts of that tree and then failing due to locked files. I had to fix up AppData by hand, and in the end left it in its original location under c:\users\xxx. I successfully moved all of the other movable folders.

I've been having some unusual problems with a new online backup I'm trying out, which seems to be duplicating some files that are in My Documents... without going into all the details of that problem, I started to snoop around to try to see what might be causing the problem, and what I found was a junction in c:\users\xxx to My Documents that is pointing to c:\users\xxx\Documents - a location that does not exist on disk.

> dir /al
04/15/2012 06:05 PM <JUNCTION> My Documents [C:\Users\xxx\Documents]

Except for my problem with backup, things seem to work. But it seems any older program that happens to try to use a hardcoded path to My Documents could fail (or, could end up creating that folder I suppose...?).

If I right-click Documents in the Start menu, it shows 2 library locations: My Documents (D:\xxx) and Public Documents (C:\Users\Public). This seems normal.

If I type "My Documents" into Explorer, it takes me directly to Computer > D > xxx > Documents.

I have an icon for the top level of my user profile on my desktop. When I open it, Explorer shows me a mix of what's in c:\users\xxx and d:\xxx. If I have the folder options set to show protected system files, I see 2 copies of My Documents (one is the folder d:\xxx\Documents, the other is marked as a shortcut and is the junction). This is probably okay, but I'm not sure.

Still - it seems that the junction should have been updated when I moved My Documents, to point to the new location of Documents, no?

I have seen people writing about junctions; and seen people writing about moving special folders, or taking it further and relocating their whole user profile; or relocating the whole Users folder. But all of these discussions have been with respect to either using the Location tab, or hacking the registry. I don't recall reading anything about what should happen to the file system junction to My Documents after doing a simple Location change.

Since I know MANY people have relocated My Documents and this is a very common issue, can any one who has relocated it please take a look at the original location and see what the junction shows?

At a command prompt:

> c:
> cd \users\xxx
> dir /al

That will show the junctions.

Does the junction for My Documents point to the correct location, or does it still show the original location at c:\users\xxx\Documents?

Assuming my junction is invalid, perhaps a fix is to back up my data, restore the default location, and then try to move it back again.

But perhaps there is a way to just correct the junction, by either modifying it, or removing it and then recreating it? I'm not familiar with the commands for doing this, and my concern is that during the time I am modifying the folder, I might possibly render my profile nonfunctional.

So perhaps I should do this from an alternate account with administrator privileges...

Any insights, suggestions, etc. would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you.

Edited to add:

It is possible that when I originally switched the location of My Documents, I might have copied rather than moved the files, and then later deleted the original files. I'm not sure what is supposed to happen to that junction if you copy.... besides winding up with duplicate files, obviously. I've since read that copying is a bad thing to do, but not sure why it's an option then. Anyway, not sure if that's what I did, and if so, the best way to fix this.
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