Preserve Windows Symlinks

Edwin Bradford edwinbradford at
Tue Dec 29 12:29:00 UTC 2020

Is it possible to preserve Windows symlinks when backing up from NTFS to
NTFS volumes or any other for that matter?

I am running rsync in Ubuntu in Windows Subsytem for Linux on Windows 10
backing up a local NTFS volume to an external NTFS volume (and also to a
remote Unix server).

The source NTFS volume has symlinks created in Windows using:

    mklink the\link the\file
    mklink /d the\link the\directory

I am running rsync within a long shell script with the command:

    --verbose --archive --checksum --itemize-changes --human-readable
    --delete --delete-excluded --partial --progress --stats
    source/ destination

The symlinks are copied to the external NTFS partition and have the same
name but no functionality. Windows doesn't recognise them as symlinks,
doesn't know what to do with them and there is no apparent difference
between symlinked directories and files.

I tried creating the symlinks with relative paths on the source volume but
rsync generated an error and refused to complete. Using --copy-links
instead of --links (implicit in --archive) gives the expected behaviour but
I would prefer to preserve symlinks rather than replace them with their
linked contents.

At this point I'm not sure if it's a limitation of rsync and NTFS
compatibility or whether I'm missing something.

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Email: edwinbradford at

Tel.: +44 (0)7981 873 771

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