How do I get information about the target of a symbolic link?

Raymond Chen

Functions like GetFileAttributes and FindFirstFile, when asked to provide information about a symbolic link, returns information about the link itself and not the link destination. If you use the FindFirstFile function, you can tell that you have a symbolic link because the file attributes will have the FILE_ATTRIBUTES_REPARSE_POINT flag set, and the dwReserved0 member will contain the special value IO_REPARSE_TAG_SYMLINK. Okay, great, so now I know I have a symbolic link, but what if I want information about the link target? For example, I want to know the size of the link target, its last-modified time, and its name. To do this, you open the symbolic link. The I/O manager dereferences the symbolic link and gives you a handle to the link destination. You can then call functions like GetFileSize, GetFileInformationByHandleEx, or GetFinalPathNameByHandle to obtain information about the symbolic link target.

Exercise: If the field is called dwReserved0, shouldn’t it be off limits? Why isn’t the field called dwReparsePointType?


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