What if you want to synchronize/backup files or folders that reside not in the “My Dropbox” folder, but somewhere else on your harddrive? There are a number of different ways that this can be achieved. Each operating system has a different way that you can do it.

Windows (Needs NTFS file system)

On Windows, you can either use the Command Prompt, or use an application. Using the Command Prompt gives you a bit more control, using an application is easier.

Applications

Boxifier: Sync any folder to your Dropbox without moving/copying it to the Dropbox folder . Right click on a folder to sync it. The only application which supports folders on USB/removable/external drives, network shares/network mapped drives, network attached storage (NAS).  Has nice Windows Explorer integration so you can see which of the files are synced (green checkmark) or in progress (blue circle). Supports all the features of the Dropbox context menu (View on dropbox.com , Share Dropbox link, View previous versions).

Dropbox Folder Sync: Sync or Unsync a folder by just selecting an option from the right click popup/context menu. This is the recommended method.

Dropboxifier: An application to help you create and manage Dropbox links across multiple machines. Requires Windows Vista or higher and .NET 4.0.

Link Shell Extension: There is a tutorial on how to use Link Shell Extension in conjunction with Dropbox.

SyncToy: Makes an always-up-to-date copy of one folder with a folder in your Dropbox. This keeps 2 copies of the folder on your computer.

SyncToCloud: SyncToCloud is the delivery of free software designed to synchronize data from various sources into a cloud, whereby data may be shared based on end-user-defined rules.

Command Prompts

Using the Command Prompt, you can see either the Junction utility from Sysinternals, the mklink command built in to Windows Vista and Server 2008 or fsutil in Windows XP. Due to the way Windows works, Dropbox will only monitor file changes if the files are located inside your Dropbox folder (see the note below for more on this). So that you can still use your computer how you normally do, you need to move the desired file/folder to your Dropbox folder, then create a link from its old location so that it can still be accessed from there:

  1. Move your folder to the “Dropbox” folder. Either use Explorer to move the folder, or use the command listed below.
    To change the location of a folder and its contents with Explorer, right-drag the folder to its desired new location and select “Move Here”. This works with regular as well as “special” folders, like a user’sDesktop, My Documents, Start Menu, etc.
    To use the command to move the Dropbox folder, type into Command Prompt:

    move "C:\Path\To\Desired\Folder" "C:\Documents and Settings\User\My Documents\My Dropbox\"
  2. Create the link at the old location. If you are using Junctions:
    junction "C:\Documents and Settings\User\My Documents\My Dropbox\DesiredFolder" "C:\Path\To\Desired\Folder"

    If you are using MKLINK:

    mklink /J "C:\Path\To\Desired\Folder" "C:\Users\Steve\Documents\Dropbox\DesiredFolder"

    If you are using fsutil:

    fsutil hardlink create "C:\Path\To\Desired\Folder" "C:\Documents and Settings\User\My Documents\My Dropbox\DesiredFolder"

Mac OS X

You will need to create a symbolic links to those outside files/folders. You can use the following application for that task:

MacDropAny: A very simple application that lets you painlessly sync any folder on your computer with Dropbox.

SymbolicLinker: An application that does let you sync any folder with Dropbox, though isn’t Dropbox specific. You should know at least a bit about how symlinks work if you are going to use this application.

DropLink: a small application allowing you to sync any file or folder with Dropbox. Install, then simply drag the files/folders you want to backup with Dropbox onto the DropLink icon in the Program folder.

If you are technologically inclined, you can also create the symbolic links manually. To do so, open the “Terminal” and execute the ln command – see the Linux/Unix section below for the exact syntax.

Linux/Unix

Use a symlink. To do this, use the ln command, for example:

ln -s /path/to/folder/that/you/want/to/sync/ ~/Dropbox/folder/name

NOTE: The original file will need to have permissions set to 664 at a minimum otherwise the new Link in the dropbox folder will have a red X on its icon, meaning that it won’t copy the file to the Dropbox server. It should look like this:

-rw-rw-r--  1 owner  group  82894 Oct 22 22:22 file.abc

Nautilus

Navigate with Nautilus file manager to the desired folder, right click it, select Make link, then move the resulting Link to desired-folder to the Dropbox folder. If the desired directory is outside your home directory, you may have to start gksudo nautilus via Terminal to make those links.

Share the Knowledge!

Helpful(23) Unhelpful(27)
  • maysam

    For windows it should be:
    junction “C:Documents and SettingsUserMy DocumentsMy DropboxDesiredFolder” “C:PathToDesiredFolder”

    • Dropbox Wiki

      Hi @disqus_Qy3UZ34gfx:disqus, thanks for the update! I have made the changes to the article.

  • Tom

    It syncs the Files once. But when i modify content on the source (real location of files) it doesnt sync to cloud. And it doesnt sync if i edit content under the symbolic link c:UserxDropboxsymlink

    It works only by editing cloud content.

    Any ideas?
    Links created with Link Shell Extension –> Symbolic Link (Content is Located somewhere on LAN)

  • Ron E. Allen

    What if you mklink in the dropbox folder out to the folder on the computer? What if the computer is a server running DFS? Will it still sync the files?

    • Nick

      Hi there… I am researching this very thing. Did you find out the answer to your question?

      I want to sync my DFS setup to my DropBox acc so it can then be sync’d to similar DFS setup on a remote machine that is also syncing to DropBox …wondering if this is possible!

  • SlimTom

    I tried to use dropboxifier for my desktop, but got error: Access to path c:usersusernameDesktop is denied. I guess the program doesn’t have proper rights for “private” folders?

  • Pingback: Moving your Mac Documents folder to Dropbox | Eric Brodeur()

  • Anthony Breneliere

    This doesn’t work: most of the time people have their data on another drive or on a network drive (NAS). This method forces to move the files on the system drive (C:) in the dropbox file. The system drive is usually a SSD drive (for system performances) that is no proper to store data.
    It would be useful to have an option in Dropbox to monitor some others folders on other disks. The problem is not due to how Windows works as the article says but it is a Dropbox limitation.

    • Bogdan

      Did you try Boxifier? It also works with network drives (NAS) and doesn’t force you to move the files on the system drive.

      • Anthony Breneliere

        I found a solution:
        1. Install dropbox on the data drive
        2. In the explorer, click property on the folders ‘Documents’, ‘images’, ‘music’ in order to move each of them to a folder of the the dropbox folder.

  • Anthony Breneliere

    On Windows platform, the first thing to do when you install drop box is to change the dropbox directory from your profile to the hard disk that contains the data. Because sync Tools will move the datas to your profile’s location, that is on your system drive (unless the profile has been created on your data drive).

  • Doroteo Fifolo

    Does not work unless the service stops/starts.

    • Bogdan

      If you don’t want to stop/start each time you want to update, you can try Boxifier (presented in this article).

  • Gray

    Windows:
    Mac OS X:
    Linux: use the ln command
    :)

    • Siddhant Saraf

      Mac OS X has the ln command too.

    • http://brendafernandez.com Brenda Fernández

      I can be done via the command line on all OSs.

      • Gray

        Yes, but who uses it there? :) I think this describes situation with software in these OS.

  • Pingback: Sincronizar arquivos fora da pasta Dropbox | Flavio Barros()

  • Pingback: Playing the same game on multiple computers - OOTP Developments Forums()

  • Alex Lake

    I’ve been using symbolic links inside my dropbox folder to link to other folders inside dropbox as a workaround to the permissions only being allowed on a top level folder.

    The only problem is that after 1 or days my symbolic links turn into hard links with an exact duplicate of the data from the original folder they were linking to. Any idea on why this is or how to prevent it? Its driving me nuts!

    • Bogdan

      Are you using Windows, Mac OSX or Linux?

  • http://www.mcelhearn.com/ Kirk McElhearn

    I’m doing this with one folder on OS X, and Dropbox is constantly syncing, because, for some reason, it never sees the files inside the symlinked folder as totally synced. They’re all visible on the Dropbox web site, so they are synced; it’s just that Dropbox doesn’t handle symlinks correctly. Their tech support confirmed this. Better to not use this solution (though I’d love to find a better one).

  • jweicher

    I would just like to point out that this article is misleading. What is described here really isn’t a way to “Sync Folders Outside of the Dropbox Folder with Dropbox”…

    You’re still having to move your content into the Dropbox folder and then having to link to it from outside.

    • Bogdan

      If you’re using Windows, then the app mentioned in this article, Boxifier, really helps you achieve what you want. It doesn’t require you to move the content into the Dropbox folder.

      • Anthony Breneliere

        I found a solution:
        1. install dropbox on the data drive
        2. in the explorer, click property on the folders ‘Documents’, ‘images’, ‘music’ in order to move each of them to a folder of the the dropbox folder.

        • Bogdan

          That works great for ‘Documents’, ‘Images’ and ‘Music’ folders. If you need to sync other folders besides those, you can use Boxifier for that.

  • Charles Thompson

    Okay… I used the ln command, do I do the same for the folder on my second computer, how do I make it sync to the original folder on the other computer?

    • Charles Thompson

      it just says “file exists” when I try to connect the folder on my second computer.

  • Jim

    the junction line is incorrect, it should be the other way around:

    junction “C:PathToDesiredFolder” “C:Documents and SettingsUserMy DocumentsMy DropboxDesiredFolder”