A Guide to Using Symbolic Links With Dropbox

Dropbox, one of the best file sync tools for Windows, Linux and MAC computers does not provide the ability to sync any file or folder outside the “My Dropbox” folder. While you can always choose a custom location for the “My Dropbox” folder, it would have been better if Dropbox could sync any folder placed anywhere on your computer’s hard drive.

Let’s say you have chosen “F:\My Dropbox” as the installation path of your “My Dropbox” folder. You have a bunch of documents and videos stored in the D drive, which you want to sync with your Dropbox account.

In such situations, you have to copy all the files from the D drive and paste it in the My Dropbox folder e.g “F:\My Dropbox\Videos”.

Symbolic Links and Dropbox

As a workaround, you can use the concept of symbolic links to sync any file or folder with your Dropbox account.

A symbolic link is a special type of file that contains a reference to another file or directory in the form of an absolute or relative path. A symbolic link merely contains a text string that is interpreted and followed by the operating system as a path to another file or directory.

Here are the step by step instructions to use Symbolic links With Dropbox:

1. Click the Start menu, type “cmd” in the search box and run it as administrator.

2. In the command prompt window, enter the following command:

MKLINK /D path_to_your_my_dropbox_folderpath_to_folder_to_be_synched

Example:   If your “My Dropbox” folder is located in C:\My Documents\My Dropbox and you want to sync D:\Videos with your Dropbox account, you have to enter the following command:

MKLINK /D C:\MyDocuments\MyDropbox\videosD:\videos

3. Hit the return key and a symbolic link of the chosen folder will be created within your “My Dropbox” folder. You can navigate to your My Dropbox folder and see whether the symbolic link has been created or not.

All set, now run the Dropbox client and it will sync files and folders as it normally does. All the files and folders stored in the custom folder will get synced with your Dropbox account via symbolic links.

Note: Deleting the symbolic link from your “My Dropbox” folder will not delete the actual files and folders that are contained in the actual folder. You can add as many symbolic links as you want, there are no restrictions as such.

Overall, this is one of the best ways to sync any file or folder with your Dropbox account. Let us know your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.

Published by

Amit Banerjee

Amit has been writing for Techie Buzz since early 2009 and keeps a close eye on web apps, Google and all things Tech. He also writes at his own tech blog, Ampercent. Follow him on Twitter @ amit_banerjee

  • Erik

    Unfortunately, this works only once: directly after you create the symbolic link the contents are synced. Byt if anything later changes in the link target (in your example that would be D:\videos), Dropbox will not see the changes, and your Dropbox is not updated. The only way to force an update in this way is to right-click the Dropbox icon, choose ‘Pause syncing’, then right-click again and choose ‘Resume syncing’. But you have to do this manually every time you know anything changed in D:\videos

    • Tony

      It syncs every time the folder changes. You must be doing something wrong.