I don't use Selective Sync because I prefer to have all my Dropbox data local. However for a few days, I need to temporarily free up some disk space on my hard drive, which is why I'm thinking of enabling Selective Sync to remove a large chunk of Dropbox data from my computer. Then after a few days when I don't need the hard drive space, I can again disable Selective Sync. Problem is, Dropbox will obviously download all that data all over again, which I had removed a few days ago via Selective Sync. Is there any way to avoid this ?
Can I perhaps copy the data I intend to have removed from my computer on an external hard drive, and enable Selective Sync. Then when I want to disable Selective Sync, copy over the data from the external hard drive back into my Dropbox folder ?
Will Dropbox be smart enough to realize that is the NOT new/duplicate data it needs to upload and sync ?
The key here is to avoid re-downloading 600 ~ 800 GB of data, which I intend to temporarily remove via Selective Sync.
Hi there @Ahmad N., I hope you're doing well!
What you suggested should work quite well, I'd just suggest a few tips for you when it comes to "syncing" the data back locally.
Your first steps are perfect, you can copy the data you want to remove to the external drive before applying the Selective Sync.
When adding the data back to your computer, you can first reselect the folders through the Selective Sync settings. Once you've applied this and the app starts to sync, you can pause syncing immediately.
Then you can copy the data from the drive to the local Dropbox folder and resume syncing. The app will then just need to re-index the files which might take some time, but you can keep an eye on the sync status for progress.
Let me know if you have any other questions about this!
Yes I can try the 'pause' technique as you suggested. Originally I was thinking that once I've disabled Selective Sync, I will close the app (make sure its not running), copy the local data back into Dropbox, and then start the Dropbox app again.
But if you think doing pause is better than exiting the app, I can do pause instead.
But are you sure Dropbox will not think it's new data (which I copy back in) that it needs to upload and sync ? If this happens, it can cause a lot of duplicates and can raise further problems.
Thanks for getting back to me @Ahmad N.!
Pausing the app would be a bit easier I believe as the app would continue from where it left off trying to sync the selected folders.
Since the data that you move to the local Dropbox folder will be the same with the online version, the app should recognise these as the same file and just check for any changes.
I would maybe just check that the timestamps of the files are retained when you copy them to the external drive, but other than that the process should be pretty smooth.
In the worst case, where you see something strange happen, you can always pause the sync again and get back to me here.
I hope this helps!
Just wanted to report back .. It worked ! Dropbox was smart enough to realize that the files I had copied back in after disabling Selective Sync were the same ones, and not new files!
Posting more data to help others in a similar situation.
To ensure 100% copies, I used Robocopy (multi-threaded commandline file/folder copying tool built into Windows). Here is a sample command:
robocopy "C:\Dropbox\SampleFolder" "D:\DropboxCopy\SampleFolder" /E /COPY:DAT /DCOPY:DAT /MT:64 /R:1 /W:3 /NFL /NDL /LOG:"C:\copyLog\log.txt"
Here I'm copying the contents of 'SampleFolder' (which is inside my Dropbox), to a backup location with similar path. You might not need all the flags I used (but I recommend them all), but the first 3 are very important. /MT is also good if you want to have quicker multi-threaded copying. /R is for retries, and /W is for wait time between retries. /NFL and /NDL are for skipping mentions of files and folders being copied (which can clutter your display). /LOG is for writing to a file (quicker), then writing to the console.
Here's the flow:
When enabling Selective Sync:
1) Using the Robocopy command, backup the folder(s) that will be removed due to Selective Sync.
2) Enable Selective Sync in Dropbox. Dropbox will now remove folders affecting by the Selective Sync.
When disabling Selective Sync to restore the backed up folder(s):
1) Disable Selective Sync, then wait 10 seconds and then pause Dropbox syncing.
2) Delete the placeholder folders that Dropbox may have created for the folders it was about to restore via re-downloading.
3) Again using the Robocopy command, copy the backed up folder(s) back into Dropbox that will be removed due to Selective Sync. Note: the folders removed in Step 2 about should 1:1 correspond to the folders you're now copying back into Dropbox. Same folder name, and number of folders, etc.
4) Resume Dropbox syncing. Dropbox will sync for sometime, during which it will realize that the folders it was going to download have 'magically' appeared, so now it doesn't have to download them
Two things to keep in mind:
1) I only restore folders (and files/folders they contain), but not the files present at the same level as the parent folder you're trying to restore. In the above example command, this would be the files at the same file system hierarchy as the the 'SampleFolder'. I let Dropbox re-download files at the parent level, as they were not much in my case.
2) Make sure you don't modify any data, timestamp or attribute for any file during the whole backup->restore cycle, otherwise Dropbox will start creating conflicted copies.
Another tip: You might want to disable your anti-virus while copying files/folders in either direction. This will lead to a better copy since your anti-virus will not potentially remove objectionable files. It will also be quicker. You can always resume scanning after Dropbox syncing is done.
Hope this helps someone out
I'm very happy to hear that @Ahmad N.!
Also, thank you for getting back to me here with your detailed steps on how you achieved this, I'm sure that this will be helpful for anyone else who also needs to do this.
If there's anything else that I can help with, feel free to give me a nudge here.
I hope you have a great start to the week - cheers!
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