Hard Link

What Does Hard Link Mean?

A hard link is a link that directly associates a name with a given file in an operating system. Unlike a soft link, which changes the pointer when the file is renamed, a hard link still points to the underlying file even if the file name changes.

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Techopedia Explains Hard Link

Hard links are more persistent in connecting a directory entry or file to the same memory space. Hard links resist file replacement. Having multiple hard links can result in the “alias effect” where files are known under multiple names.

Although some refer to soft links as pointers or shortcuts, experts point out that both hard links and soft links are technically pointers, but that hard links are more persistent pointers. For instance, if someone creates a hard link to a file named “cheese” and then changes the filename to “milk,” the hard link would still work. However, if it is a soft link, the link would then go to a non-existent file.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.