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Windows 7: under the hood of Win7 libraries


25 May 2012   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64bit
 
 
under the hood of Win7 libraries

I'm looking for someone who understands what happens under the hood. After reading numerous articles on the Windows 7 libraries, I think I understand what happens under the hood. I would like to receive confirmation or correction of my perception of the details. I am not 100% sure I have the jargon right; so please correct that also if necessary.

If I connect the dots right, the libraries are pointers to the folders included the library. The actual files are located elsewhere: my documents, my pictures, etc. This saves HDD space by eliminating the need to create copies of the folders. Modifications to the folders/files in a library also modifies the source folder/file. Deleting a library or any of its files does not alter the source files. However, deleting the source files will remove the file from both the library and its source location.

Am I missing anything here? Is there anything else which is important for me to know?

Thanks for your replies.

drpepper

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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26 May 2012   #2

Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit
 
 

My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 May 2012   #3

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

Libraries are not just limited to the four standard ones and their included folders. You can create new libraries for your own purposes and include as many folders in them as you need. I have a total of 15 libraries and as an example my documents library includes 5 locations.

under the hood of Win7 libraries-screenshot171_2012-05-26.png

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26 May 2012   #4

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64bit
 
 

good info... I have added a little more understanding via the linked articles.

Kado's second attached image appears to address my base question (not how to use libraries, but what is going on under the hood - the nuts and bolts of what Windows is doing to provide the view in the user interface). The explanation in the image which says, "When you include a folder in a library, the files appear in the library, but continue to be stored in their original location." seems to address the question. I f I am reading between the lines right, libraries provide a view of another memory location without duplicating the data in a different location. This would make the library view of the library a collection of pointers (in programming language) to the actual memory location where the files are stored.

Did I get that right?

There is a reason for my line of questioning here. I have a friend who has a 500GB HDD with less than 10% free space. She came to me for help because the system crashes when she tries to manipulate large files, and she cannot defrag due to lack of unused space. Likewise she cannot back up the HDD. Quite a few of the large files (some of them over 3GB in size) are duplicated in several folders because she does not know how to use libraries. Instead she uses the type of file/folder organization from the days before libraries were introduced. I recommended copying the bulk of the folders/files to an external drive, but she wants to keep everything on the internal drive.

If my analysis of how libraries work, as presented in this thread is sound, I believe I can help her free up some HDD space. My tentative plan is to guide her through a process to copy enought folders to an external drive to begin the task of creating libraries and to systematically build more libraries to preserve the type of organization she finds to be useful for her purposes. I believe that if we leave the default libraires (documents, pictures, videos, etc.) intact, we can build the custom libraries. Once she has the concept down, I will turn here loose to complete the process on her own.

Now... Using the perspective of the full HDD and my analysis of how libraries work under the hood, is my reasoning sound enough to attempt to proceed with the project?

drpepper
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 May 2012   #5

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 7600
 
 

in short, libraries are a collection of shortcuts to other files and folders.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 May 2012   #6

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

Yes you are correct about the collection of pointers. It is actually an XML file but you have the right idea. I don't have a second internal drive and a fairly small HD in my laptop so virtually all my data is on external USB attached drives. This of course limits speed and portability but it does the job as I use my laptop more like a desktop. Anything I might need when away from base is either temporarily moved to the internal disk or is synced to the cloud.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 May 2012   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64bit
 
 

Thanks Kado,

It sounds like I am good to go with my tentative plan. My friend has two 500GB external drives we can use for transferring files off the HDD to get started. I am hopeful that she will find several gigabytes of files she no longer needs while we are at it. I am happy that she is savvy enough to pick up on the idea; so I won't have to do the entire job. (I wonder how many weeks that is going to take.)

drpepper
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2012   #8

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64bit
 
 

I can now mark this thread as solved.

Initial work on the full HDD has freed up a little over 15GB by simply deleting duplicates of one video and leaving one copy in My Videos. The first custom library has been created with that video and a few other items relating to the same subject. My friend is ready to finish up on her own.

Thanks for all the input.
drpepper
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 May 2012   #9

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 7601 Multiprocessor Free Service Pack 1
 
 

Good news drpepper.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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