How To Update Windows 7 Shortcuts when Targets are Moved

CuriousGeorgie

Junior Member
Apr 8, 2019
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0
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#1
Hi - I'm new to this site. I joined because A) I have a current question, B) I'm always having questions about how to this and that .... Currently, I'm trying to find some way of updating the various shortcuts on my computer when a file, folder, or containing folder gets moved. There are some obvous (recently created) shortcuts that I can find and update manually, but it's not something I would like to spend my time doing. Additionally, there many shortcuts, and targets, that are buried in the file system plus the ones in the registry that really complicate things. These files, folders, or containing folders get moved when (for whatever reason) I reorganize part of the file system.
So, anyone know how I might solve this problem?
Thanks, CuriousGeorgie
 
May 19, 2011
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#2
What's the underlying need / scenario behind this question?

This question intrigued me because I knew that Windows already does this at least to some extent (having experienced both opposite scenarios previously), yet my first testing (placing a file, creating a shortcut to it, then cutting and pasting the file elsewhere - be it on the same filesystem or a different one) resulted in the shortcut not being updated. I then restarted the test and did a simple left-click drag-and-drop into the same file system and the shortcuts (both in 'recent items' and the one I manually created) automatically updated.

I suppose if I had a tonne of shortcuts to update and a tonne of files to move then I'd consider scripting it (with VBS for example one can at least create shortcut files as well as moving etc), but you're talking about references in the registry as well (which say VBS can do but still). I suspect I'd be spending as much time tediously writing and testing the script (as well as backing up in case I make a horrible mistake) as I would to do the job manually.
 
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CuriousGeorgie

Junior Member
Apr 8, 2019
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0
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#3
Wow! Many layers! :) Yes, Windows does it's own up date, like you said, after a fashion - if the new target is 'close by'. However, if the new target is in a totally different branch of the tree, Windows gives up, quickly.
The underlying need/scenario is one of trying to cleanup several years of documenting personal files, home business financial & business-related files, trust-related files for my parents + their 'personal business', and more ....
As time went on, my hard drive began to fill, so I began offloading the older files to a stand-a-lone drive. As time went on, the hard drive began to fill again + with new circumstances in life, the file system changed and nolonger matched the 'backup' one. Named shortcuts began to refer to the 'wrong' name. Plus, in an effort to simplify things, I began combining and reorganizing. That's when the shortcuts began finding Peter Pan - that is, pointing to Never-Never-Land.
Yes, VBS and scripting could be employed - but I agree with you that writing that code would be quite time-consuming as well as requiring some knowledge of how to solve the problem - ha!
Some years ago, Popular Computing magazine or one like it used to publish utilities each month. I remember them publishing a utility which, in my faded memory, would go through a file system and 'fix it', or create a report, or ... something, in a way that would have made my problems much simpler if not made them go away. As I remember, it did require a baseline scan off of which it would run.
I am no programmer, just a heavy data user (docx, xlsx, pdfs, lots of txt's, I use jpg's extensively to reduce paper needs - and more .... ).
 
May 19, 2011
12,629
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#4
Side note - your use of the word 'backup' worries me: You do have a backup of the data you wouldn't like to lose, right? That is, at least one separate storage device that is only used to create a spare copy of all of your important data for disaster recovery, and updated (however often is necessary) from the primary storage device?

Back on topic - My advice is this: Upgrade your primary storage device to have enough space to store all your files. For starters, it will make your backup strategy a lot simpler, but also if you're relying on an external hard drive in order to work on your stuff, it doesn't take much for it to lose the drive letter it was automatically allocated, and then your shortcuts to that drive are useless until it regains the old drive letter. While one can stop this from happening by manually allocating a drive letter to a drive, it's still a messy way to store your files.

Next, just bite the bullet and abandon shortcuts to files after re-organising. Instead of creating shortcuts to particular files, I'd organise my stuff so that I create shortcuts to particular folders so within an acceptable number of clicks I can find what I'm looking for. This will result in significantly less shortcuts to update. By all means have one or two exceptions to a rule where it's really handy to shortcut to a particular file, but the more you do then the more work you'll be creating for yourself when a major change needs to occur.

Utilities - it would have to be tested for the version of Windows you're running, which is more complicated with Windows 10. Certainly between XP and newer versions of Windows the method of recording 'recently accessed' files changed (I suspect it was after Vista rather than XP that the major change occurred though), and it wouldn't surprise me if it was revised some more when Windows 10 brought in the 'quick access' view in File Explorer. Furthermore it seems to me that you'd be putting your hopes in some random program to re-organise all your shortcuts and not cause even more screwups in the process.

Windows's method of handling recent items has become really messy particularly with the 'jump lists' feature in Win7, there are at least two locations where recent item information is stored. I had a script I used with Vista and Win7 for selectively clearing out the Start Menu's "recent items" list, but it wasn't perfect, and there's far too much binary-blobbage going on in Windows (such as in the 'automaticdestinations' and 'customdestinations' folders) these days for me to bother trying to update the script.

Side note - it is a commonly-held belief that the hard drives used in 'external hard drive' products are inferior to ones sold for internal use. I don't know whether this is true, but an external storage device is a lot more at risk from unfortunate accidents than internal ones are.

IMO if you have sound hardware for storing your files and a sensible filing method, there's little reason for the filing method to change. My filing method has undergone very slight revisions in the last 15 years or so, and that's despite changing from XP to Win7 to Lubuntu + Win10. Even if I completely changed career and got divorced, little would change in my filing method (just a whole bunch of stuff would get archived).
 

CuriousGeorgie

Junior Member
Apr 8, 2019
3
0
6
#5
Thanks for your prompt reply! Imbedded in your reply are more than a few suggestions/recommendations for change. I am going to have to cogitate on these things. Making some of the changes in the file system will be 'interesting' to plan out. Your concern for the actual backup of my total system is well-placed. I am deficient in that regard. My external drive is well-protected and I don't always connect to it. It is a 2Tb drive by Seagate, maybe 4 years old but only used in the last year or so.

Your 'trail' of OS's is interesting. I started out with UNIX many years ago, but went to windows 3.1, then .... Lately, I have been contemplating LINUX, but all the different versions are difficult to choose from. My wife and son both have MAC Pro's and have been suggesting .... - ha. My Dell is > 6 years. I had a 500 Gb SSD put in when the original HD died, but only 200-250 of that is really available, hence the external drive.

Taking all of that into consideration, it still comes down to the filing system, it would seem. If it's not too personal, would you share some of the details of how you organized your system?

Of late, I have been contemplating a sort of 'jump list' or an alias table of some sort wherein I would create a shortcut using an 'alias address'. Then when some shortcut was executed, if the target address existed in the 'alias table', the target address in the table would be substituted for the 'alias' to finish the shortcut processing. If the target address did not exist in the 'alias table', processing would continue with that address. This way, when the target address moved, only the substituition side of the alias would need modification. Nice plan. I haven't the foggiest idea how to imlement it.

I mean, I could create the 'alias table', but how to get the system to always use it like I described - THAT is what I don't know how to do - in Windows, anyway. It would be a bit of work, but using a 'C Shell' or 'K shell' (or the modern versions of them) in LINUX, it would be do-able. Worth the effort? Now, that I couldn't say. I don't even know if Windows has such a capability, at least not that I could get access to.

In windows, I'm not familiar with the 'automaticdestinations' and 'customdestinations' folders. Do they have size limits?

So, first thing - get a 'true' backup situation going. Checking on possibilities of a Backup Situation (BS), there are Free & Commercial pakages to purchase, in addition to the many Services. Given my potential for different OS's in the future, if I purchase something (even for $0), I'm thinking the BS I endup with should be useful on all three. That eliminates quite a few. Another feature that sounds good, but the absence of which eliminates all but a few is continuous data protection. Then, there's bang for your buck. Backup services are big now-a-days. How to price them? Encryption would be nice, Synching would be nice (especially, if my wife shared the service and I used my 'other' laptop), limit of number of devices supported (include external drives)? Bandwith issues, How are restorations handeled - individual files as well as complete computer? So many questions ..... ha.

Your help so far, has been very informative, Mikeymikec, and I appreciate your time, too. I would appreciate it if you would like to continue, but if you don't that is OK. Be aware. that, in the above, I am not requesting specific product recommendations.

Thanks for everything, CuriousGeorgie
 

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