You are as probably fed up as I am of old applications which store user data in a common folder, making things quite insecure.

An alternative approach would be to run the program from a network drive. There would one copy of the application folder for each user. With map under root you save on creating 100s of shares.

The problem if we stopped there is that the duplication of files would needlessly eat into file storage, particularly if the folder is quite large.

This where hard links come in. A hard link is directory entry which points to another file. This makes it appear that a file is one folder when all acceses to it are read from another.

The idea is that al common files (e.g exe, dll, media files etc) would be reprsented in each indvidual user folder by hard links. This saves on file storage as only individual user data would actually be stored in a user folder.

The main downiside is that it takes longer to set up. Each new user must be set up individually. You must also be quite sure that common files will never need to be modified while the program is running.

Most of the slog of setup can be taken away by scripting. The command FSUTIL (XP and 2003) can be used to create the hard links.

So what do other people think? Is this scheme worth bothering with or should we stick with the single program folders and curse teachers for buying obsolete programs?