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Sharing a single Dropbox account using selective sync

Explorer | Level 3

I'm planning to migrate from a free account to a 2TB paid account, but the plan is to share this storage amongst 3 separate locations/people/computers.   These are physically separate PC's - Windows user accounts are not used as such, i.e. each PC only has one user who uses it. 

Here's how I was planning to go about it:

  • get a 2TB plan
  • install DB on Computers 1, 2 and 3 at C:\Dropbox
  • connect all three to the new DB account
  • Create four folders C:\Dropbox\User1, C:\Dropbox\User2, C:\Dropbox\User3 C:\Dropbox\Common
  • On User 1's PC use Selective Sync to only sync folders C:\Dropbox\User1 and  C:\Dropbox\Common
  • On User 2's PC use Selective Sync to only sync folders C:\Dropbox\User2 and  C:\Dropbox\Common
  • On User 3's PC use Selective Sync to only sync folders C:\Dropbox\User3 and  C:\Dropbox\Common

So my questions are:

  1. One obvious flaw is that any user could mess with another user's data - potentially wiping it.  It isn't anticipated that this would occur deliberately, but would the selective sync setup prevent this? E.g. if user 1 accidentally deleted folder c:\Dropbox\User2, would the deletion ripple through to the cloud and then onto User2's PC?.  Or would selective sync prevent this?
  2. Does Dropbox have any other permissions mechanisms for preventing this scenario?

 

1 Accepted Solution

Accepted Solutions
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Re: Sharing a single Dropbox account using selective sync

Super User II
Super User II

@Ross M.15 wrote:

... each of the users is friendly (and in this case - the same person)


You stated three separate people in your original post, so that's what I was going by. Individual accounts are meant for individuals; not a group of people.


... the purpose of doing this is really to avoid needlessly syncing stuff onto the other computers.


Which is the exact point of Selective Sync.


... removing a folder from the sync set ... also removes that folder from view in explorer ... so doesn't that mitigate the danger of accidental deletion - as each PC can only see it's own sync folder?

No, it doesn't. As mentioned above, any of these users can simply click an icon in the Dropbox application and will automatically be logged into the Dropbox website, with full access to the account and all files it contains. They would even be able to unlink each comptuer from the account and remotely wipe the content of the local Dropbox folder on those computers.

View solution in original post

4 Replies 4
Highlighted

Re: Sharing a single Dropbox account using selective sync

Super User II
Super User II

@Ross M.15 wrote:

... if user 1 accidentally deleted folder c:\Dropbox\User2, would the deletion ripple through to the cloud and then onto User2's PC?.


Yes, the folder would be deleted everywhere.


Or would selective sync prevent this?

No. That's not the purpose of Selective Sync.


Does Dropbox have any other permissions mechanisms for preventing this scenario?

No. Dropbox is not intended to be used this way. Basic, Plus and Professional accounts are individual accounts meant for use by a single person; not shared between multiple people. Aside from the issue of file security that you've already mentioned, anyone with Dropbox installed on their system and linked to the account will have the ability to automatically log into the account on the Dropbox website and change the account's details, or possible even take over the account and locak everyone else out of it.

Highlighted

Re: Sharing a single Dropbox account using selective sync

Explorer | Level 3

Thanks for your reply, Rich.

I guess I need to emphasize that there are no security issues here - each of the users is friendly (and in this case - the same person) and the purpose of doing this is really to avoid needlessly syncing stuff onto the other computers.  Take this scenario:

Computer 1 has a 2TB drive, with 750GB needing to be synced to DB

Laptop 2 has 750GB drive with 300GB to be synced to DB.

Tablet 3 has 500GB SSD with 200GB to be synced to DB.

If Dropbox were installed on all 3 without selective syncing in use the total DB cloud holdings would be 750 + 300 + 200 = 1250 GB, Computer 1 would receive an extra 300GB + 200GB from the synced folders from the laptop and tablet, but the laptop would receive 750 + 200 from computer 1 and tablet 3, and tablet 3 would receive 750 + 300 from computer 1 and laptop 2, so they will have filled their disks before syncing can complete fully.

If Computer 1 uses selective sync to ignore the folders from Laptop 2 and Tablet 3, and the laptop and tablet do likewise to hide the sync folders of the other PC's, won't everyone be happy (or have I missed a crucial episode somewhere )?

As regards the danger of accidental deletion of a sync folder other than your own, I see after playing around a bit, that removing a folder from the sync set (by unchecking the box) also removes that folder from view in explorer (but not from the selective sync dialog - that would be silly), so doesn't that mitigate the danger of accidental deletion - as each PC can only see it's own sync folder?

Highlighted

Re: Sharing a single Dropbox account using selective sync

Super User II
Super User II

@Ross M.15 wrote:

... each of the users is friendly (and in this case - the same person)


You stated three separate people in your original post, so that's what I was going by. Individual accounts are meant for individuals; not a group of people.


... the purpose of doing this is really to avoid needlessly syncing stuff onto the other computers.


Which is the exact point of Selective Sync.


... removing a folder from the sync set ... also removes that folder from view in explorer ... so doesn't that mitigate the danger of accidental deletion - as each PC can only see it's own sync folder?

No, it doesn't. As mentioned above, any of these users can simply click an icon in the Dropbox application and will automatically be logged into the Dropbox website, with full access to the account and all files it contains. They would even be able to unlink each comptuer from the account and remotely wipe the content of the local Dropbox folder on those computers.

View solution in original post

Highlighted

Re: Sharing a single Dropbox account using selective sync

Explorer | Level 3

OK.  Yes, I made the mistake of constructing an example that was hypothetical in an attempt to get as much info as possible at once in the answer.

Whatever, the scenario works as I was expecting and I understand the ramifications of structuring it the way I was planning.  Many thanks for your prompt replies to my questions.

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