How-To Geek

How to Sync External Folders with Your SkyDrive


Microsoft launched its new SkyDrive desktop app which is set to compete head-to-head with Dropbox and Google Drive. Here’s how to sync folders that are outside of your SkyDrive folder.

Using a Reparse Point

Known as the Soft Link to some, a Symbolic Link is the most common form of reparse point. Luckily for us Windows Vista and later include a command line utility, called mklink, which can be used to manage symbolic links. In order to create a symbolic link we first need to find your SkyDrive folder which, buy default, is located at:

C:\Users\”Your Username”\SkyDrive

This is also known as the %userprofile% environment variable, which makes it extra easy to create a symbolic link. So go ahead and fire up a administrative command prompt.


Now we need to use mklink to create a symbolic link, the syntax to link to a folder is:

mklink /d <link> <target>

For files we don’t need the “/d” switch so we can just use:

mklink <link> <target>

But as an added bonus we can use our environment variable, so we can do something like this:

mklink /d “%userprofile%\SkyDrive\Music” C:\Music


Above I created a symbolic link that points to the Music folder on the root of my “C” drive. This means that any files I put into that folder will be automatically uploaded to my SkyDrive, you can check this by looking at your SkyDrive.


As you can see my symlink is there and functioning just as we expected. That’s all there is to it, happy symlinking Smile

Taylor Gibb is a Microsoft MVP and all round geek, he loves everything from Windows 8 to Windows Server 2012 and even C# and PowerShell. You can also follow him on Google+

  • Published 04/27/12

Comments (30)

  1. Devon

    For cloud synchronization instead /d option use /j option in mklink command. Correct article, please!

  2. Taylor Gibb

    @Devon that is actually incorrect, the /j parameter creates Junction Points (Directory Junctions) which have actually been superseded by Symbolic Links, which are created using the /d parameter.

  3. Qwerty

    Awesome, just tried this and it works!

  4. Devon

    @Taylor /d parameter didn’t work for me (Win7) with /j everything is ok. Question is why? :)

  5. Taylor Gibb

    @Devon What version of Windows 7, have you got, because i tested this on both Windows 7 and Windows 8 before it was published?

  6. Devon

    @Taylor, Win7 64-bit, maybe problem is in my link to folder on external drive? I didn’t try on one drive.

  7. Taylor Gibb

    @Devon Na thats not it, symbolic links may point to any file or directory irrespective of the volumes on which the source and destination reside, the also have cross file system support so that cant be the problem either, in fact thats kind of why Junction Points were superseded, did you run the command as administrator :)

  8. Devon

    @Taylor, yes admin :) I will try later once again with /d option and post results. Thanks for support.

  9. Taylor Gibb

    @Devon Ok awesome, ill be waiting to hear…

  10. Brian Hall

    I wonder if this would work with Google Drive, Dropbox, or other sync solutions that require the user to put everything in a single backup folder.

  11. Kyle

    Both /d and /j seem functionally similar enough for it not to matter. /j is what I’d been using, under Windows 8, and it’s been syncing just fine. I’ve just tried /d with another folder, and it isn’t behaving any differently for me.

  12. Devon

    @Taylor, still problems with /d option. Links are working only in Windows. In SkyDrive Web interface i have only file with folder name (eg. PIC) Files aren’t synchronizing :( Two pictures with local and web folder:

    With /j option synchronization works perfect.

  13. Taylor Gibb

    @Devon Why does the pic folder look like a file on your SkyDrive web folder?

  14. Devon

    @Taylor I think that SkyDrive synchronize only file PIC (it’s my link).

  15. Taylor Gibb

    @Devon i see whats happend i am able to replicate that result by doing mklink “%userprofile%\SkyDrive\Pic” C:\Pic perhaps you did a small typo :) ?

  16. Devon

    @Taylor, no :( My command:

    mklink /d f:\SkyDrive\PIC f:\Foto

    nevermind, im using /j option, and works fine :)

  17. Ben

    I used this method before successfully with Dropbox.

    Yesterday, mklink with /d parameter didn’t worked for me with SkyDrive. I couldn’t use the /J parameter because I wanted to sync a network path (UNC path). My Documents folder is redirected with Group Policy.
    But today I tried it again, with the %userprofile% variable and the SkyDrive application is syncing my redirected folder!

    Is it because of the %userprofile% environment variable, I don’t know :-)

  18. Cubby

    This may be the most beneficial how-to article I’ve ever come across. Thank you!

  19. Davey

    Nice utility for drag and drop junction/symlink creation (plus a whole lot more!). Google “LSE extension” for more info.

  20. Stuart

    If I create a symbolic link for (say) My Music in the SkyDrive, this will synch my music into the skydrive – great. I can’t work out whether the skydrive app is bring all the skydrive onto mylocal machine or not – when I first installed it it did seem to. So I am wondering whether it will backup my music into the slydrive and them promptly download them onto my local machine again in a second place?

  21. James

    The Skydrive app won’t run on XP!! So stupid, because whether MS like it or not, many many people still run this OS! I have 4 older machines with XP and have no reason to change things… they work fine for everything I need them for.
    So Skydrive is no use to me or many of my colleagues. I’m staying with Dropbox and, lately, Google Cloud. Both work fine on ALL my devices :)

  22. bemental


  23. Ayush

    It put the link in the skydrive folder on my PC, but it is not syncing with skydrive on the web. Also, any new addition to the folder is can also not be seen in the skydrive folder on the PC.

  24. amirtal

    for all those with /D not working, did you restart the skydrive app?
    that’s what did it for me.

  25. Phil

    Is there a way to do something similar with Google Drive? I like some of the features they offer, such as searchable text in pdf files as well as the app that I can use on my android phone.

    I tried the above with both /J and /D with no success.

  26. Sweet Tooth

    Thanks for the tip. There is a program called “symlinker” that makes this much easier. May have to run as admin.

  27. Szymon

    Yes – the only problem is that symlinking to cloud folder (such as GDrive or SkyDrive or Dropbox) creates DUPLICATE content on the hard drive.. ;/

  28. JS

    Hi Taylor: MKLink worked as you described. Thanks for the suggestion! I did a link using My Documents as the target, and a link was created in the SkyDrive folder on the PC as expected, showing all files and sub-directories identical to the “source”. SkyDrive created a folder on the web site for My Documents but did not populate the web site with any of the sub-folders or files under My Documents.
    I did another link to a target folder on the Root directory of C drive, and this one, including all sub-folders was updated to the web site as you would expect.
    I re-booted the machine and tried a few other things like that but couldn’t get the link to be recognized properly by SkyDrive for web synchronization when the link was inside my user profile. Do you have any suggestions? I used administrator rights when creating the links as directed.
    Regards, JS

  29. Ricky

    What’s totally idiotic is that MS (in their infinite wisdom :P) decided not to add an error message when trying to install SkyDrive on Windows XP. Try to run the program and nothing happens. I spent hours trying to get it to run and it didn’t put up a simple message saying it wouldn’t support XP.

    Would you trust an app that doesn’t even tell you when an error occurs? Use at your own risk!

  30. PhredE

    The very first thing I had to learn when I wanted to ride a motor bike was how to stop.
    If I create a link using mklink I’d really like to know how to undo what I’ve done. Can I delete the link easily? Is it safe?
    I remember ages ago reading warnings about links where deleting a link actually ‘followed through’ and deleted the subordinate, pointed to, files as well!!
    Any info on undoing the done?

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