You will be needing links, if you:
- don’t have enough space on your X-Plane (SSD)drive
- want to share folders between different X-Plane installations to save space or keep them in sync
Methods to create links
I will describe 3 methods to create links here (click on the link to go to the page):
If you search a bit, you will certainly find more methods. For instance XYplorer (a Windows Explorer alternative) has a build-in option to create links.
As you will see creating links is not the problem: in no time you have your X-Plane folder filled with links. But as you add more of them, update scenery etc., the overview is easily lost:
- did I link everything or did I forget to link some folders?
- where do all these links actually link to?
- are all links still valid and working?
I hope you don’t mind that I promote creating links with xToolbox here, because these questions (and more) are all easily answered with the overview it offers.
Types of links
Here are the types of links you can use for X-plane (with their pros and cons):
Although shortcuts work pretty good, they can only be used for scenery packages in the Custom Scenery folder of X-Plane. If you would like to for instance to move or share plugins in the Plugin folder it will not work.
If you move the folder that the shortcuts points to, Windows will often be able to automatically update your shortcut. It uses a search algorithm and a ‘distributed link tracking service’ that tracks link sources that have moved (xToolbox and xOrganizer use these too).
Symbolic links are the most versatile type of link. But the fact that you need administrator rights to create them is a disadvantage (in some cases with annoying User Account Control messages).
In general junctions seem the best solution to use with X-Plane, because they will work with any X-Plane folder and creating them is quick and easy (with the help of xToolbox or another tool). According to some sources junctions are also the best choice performance wise (simple and optimized), but this will hardly be measurable when using them for X-Plane.
What to link in X-Plane?
You can use links for any folder in X-Plane (as long as you use the right type, see above), for instance:
- aircraft (not really recommended because aircraft often have config files in the XP Output folder)
- the X-Plane Global Scenery folder (sharing it with a beta installation will save you 50Gb of disk space)
It is advisable not to move and link the parent X-Plane folder, but only the content inside. So, for instance not the Custom Scenery folder itself but the scenery folders inside. Why? Well if you move and link content you:
- can spread content over multiple disks: if you link the whole folder and you have so much space on the other disk, why don’t move X-Plane there as a whole? Usually you will have to use several disks to have enough space
- can separate X-Plane from your custom content: just delete all your links and you have a clean X-Plane installation
- can organize your content: make folders per country, separate Ortho4xp packages from airports etc (see example below), which makes updating and managing much easier!