XP Pro DLL Hard Linking
As a systems administrator, I encounter numerous DLL problems. Two common problems that occur are different DLL versions with the same name and application distribution without the required DLLs. These problems create extra administration work. My solution is to create a DLL archiveā€”I keep permanent copies of all DLLs in one folder, with version data, for quick access. I then create a hard link to the permanent DLL copy wherever I need a DLL.

When I started using Windows XP Professional Edition, I was happy to discover that the Fsutil tool made my low-tech approach even easier. To implement DLL archiving on XP Pro, create an easily accessible archive folder on the NTFS partition where you keep your old applications. My reference folder is C:\apps\DLL. Because you'll probably keep multiple copies of a DLL, you need to rename each DLL or file the DLLs in subfolders to distinguish them from one another. Suppose you want to run an application that requires vbrun100.dll. Open a command prompt in the application's folder, and enter

fsutil hard link create vbrun100.dll
 "c:\apps\dll\vbrun100_264.dll"

The console will display "Hard link created for ..."

A limitation of this technique is that the hard link and original file must be on the same NTFS-formatted partition. Advantages are that you can easily find and maintain DLLs; you don't waste disk space; and if someone accidentally deletes the original DLL archive, the hard link ensures that a DLL remains available until the last reference to the DLL is deleted.