|This content applies to Vortex 0.16.8 and above.|
A deployment method refers to how Vortex installs your mods so they load when the game is launched. When adding a supported game to Vortex, it will automatically choose the best deployment method for your game and system. It is not recommended that you switch the deployment method.
To understand Hardlink deployment you must first know how File Systems work. Files are stored in two parts, the actual file data and an index containing the filename, access rights, creation/modified dates and other information.
Hard Links work by creating a second entry in the index pointing to the new location but still referencing the original file data. This way there is no difference between the original and link files after the link is created.
Vortex adds your mods to the mod install path, then makes a hard link to your mod install location when deployed. Each deployment will check and rebuild all Hard links. On purging your mods these links are removed.
A common question users ask is "How is Vortex deployment different to Mod Organizer's VFS?". Both methods achieve a similar result but go about it in different ways. The VFS used by Mod Organizer (originally designed by Tannin, Lead Vortex Developer) has been heavily customised to work with Gamebryo (Bethesda's Elder Scrolls and Fallout series) games and popular tools for that modding scene. Using this approach in Vortex would have the following drawbacks:
- There is no stable high-quality VFS with a free-to-use licence.
- VFS methods require extensive customisation to work with different tools, hard links are supposed natively as they are no different to access normal system files.
- Diagnosing errors in VFS deployment is considerably more difficult.
- USVFS is a Windows-only feature, whereas hard links are supported on all platforms. This means Vortex would be easier to support Linux or Mac operating systems.
- USVFS can often trigger false positives on anti-virus software.
- Hard links have no performance impact on the game, whereas USVFS will access files considerably slower.
This is not to say that using VFS is worse or bad, simply that Vortex did not opt for this as a default deployment method.
As of Vortex 0.16.8, this deployment method is still considered experimental so is only used by default where Hardlink deployment cannot be supported. Move deployment is a simpler deployment method which doesn't create links between the files and actually moves the files from the Vortex Mods folder to the game mods folder. For each file moved across it creates a .lnk file in the Vortex folder to allow a clean un-deployment.