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

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!

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  • 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?

  • 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?

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