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How To Fix ‘Filesystem Does Not Support Symbolic Links’ Error When Transferring Files

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If you’ve ever tried to transfer files and encountered the error message “Filesystem does not support symbolic links”, you know how frustrating this can be. This error occurs when you are trying to copy a symbolic link, a type of file that points to another file, to a filesystem that does not support these links, such as FAT32 or NTFS.

This article will guide you through several solutions to this issue, including using the command line, compressing and extracting files, and formatting your thumbdrive with a compatible filesystem.

Quick Answer

To fix the "Filesystem does not support symbolic links" error when transferring files, you have a few options. You can use the command line to copy the file that the symbolic link points to instead of the link itself. Another workaround is to compress the files into a compressed archive and then copy the archive to your thumbdrive. If all else fails, you can format your thumbdrive with a filesystem that supports symbolic links, such as NTFS.

Understanding Symbolic Links

Before we dive into the solutions, it’s important to understand what symbolic links are. A symbolic link is a type of file that serves as a reference to another file or directory. It’s similar to a shortcut in Windows or an alias on a Mac. Symbolic links can be very useful for linking libraries and creating shortcuts, but they can cause issues when you try to copy them to a filesystem that does not support them.

Solution 1: Using the Command Line

If you’re comfortable using the command line, you can use the cp command with the --dereference option. This option tells the cp command to copy the file that the symbolic link points to, instead of the link itself.

Here’s an example of how to use it:

cp --dereference someLink /path/to/thumbdrive

In this command, someLink is the symbolic link you’re trying to copy, and /path/to/thumbdrive is the destination where you want to copy the file to.

Solution 2: Compressing and Extracting Files

Another workaround is to compress the files you want to transfer into a compressed archive, such as a zip or tar file. This bypasses the issue with symbolic links because the archive file is a regular file, not a symbolic link.

Here are the steps to do this:

  1. Compress the files into an archive. You can use tools like zip or tar to do this. For example:
    tar -czvf archive.tar.gz /path/to/files
    In this command, -c stands for create, -z compresses the archive using gzip, -v is for verbose, showing the progress, and -f specifies the name of the archive.
  2. Copy the archive to your thumbdrive:
    cp archive.tar.gz /path/to/thumbdrive
  3. Once the archive is on your thumbdrive, you can extract the files from the archive. If you used tar to create the archive, you can use the following command to extract it:
    tar -xzvf archive.tar.gz
    In this command, -x stands for extract, -z decompresses the archive, -v is for verbose, and -f specifies the archive file.

Solution 3: Formatting Your Thumbdrive

If the above solutions don’t work for you, or if you don’t mind reformatting your thumbdrive, you can format it with a filesystem that supports symbolic links, such as NTFS. Please note that formatting will erase all data on the thumbdrive, so make sure to backup your data first.

Here’s how to format your thumbdrive with NTFS on Linux:

sudo mkfs.ntfs /dev/sdX

In this command, mkfs.ntfs is the command to create an NTFS filesystem, and /dev/sdX is the device name of your thumbdrive.

Conclusion

The error “Filesystem does not support symbolic links” can be a roadblock when trying to transfer files, but there are several solutions to this issue. Whether you’re comfortable using the command line, prefer a graphical interface, or don’t mind reformatting your thumbdrive, you can find a solution that works for you.

What is a symbolic link?

A symbolic link is a type of file that serves as a reference to another file or directory. It’s similar to a shortcut in Windows or an alias on a Mac.

Why does the error “Filesystem does not support symbolic links” occur?

This error occurs when you try to copy a symbolic link to a filesystem that does not support them, such as FAT32 or NTFS.

How can I fix the “Filesystem does not support symbolic links” error?

There are several solutions to this issue. You can use the command line to copy the file that the symbolic link points to instead of the link itself. Another workaround is to compress the files into a compressed archive and then extract them on the destination filesystem. If none of these solutions work, you can format your thumbdrive with a filesystem that supports symbolic links, such as NTFS.

Can I use the command line to fix the error?

Yes, if you’re comfortable using the command line, you can use the cp command with the --dereference option to copy the file that the symbolic link points to instead of the link itself.

How can I compress and extract files to bypass the issue with symbolic links?

You can compress the files into a compressed archive, such as a zip or tar file. This bypasses the issue because the archive file is a regular file, not a symbolic link. You can then copy the archive to your thumbdrive and extract the files from the archive on the destination filesystem.

Is reformatting my thumbdrive a solution to fix the error?

Yes, if the above solutions don’t work for you or if you don’t mind erasing all data on your thumbdrive, you can format it with a filesystem that supports symbolic links, such as NTFS. However, please note that formatting will erase all data, so make sure to backup your data before proceeding.

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