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Backing up and syncing from external HD to the Dropbox folder issues

Helpful | Level 5

Hello,

I am getting mixed information from the Dropbox helpdesk and could use some help.

 I’m a photographer. I have 6.5Tb of photos stored on my External Drobo hard drive. I work from that harddrive on my laptop in Lightroom. I want to keep on doing that but I want my files to back up and sync on line and I would like to be able to work from dropbox when I am not at home, and don't have access to my External drive.

 So I want to back up 6.5 Tb of files from my external Drobo Harddrive to dropbox. I want it to sync automatically and I want to keep the files on my external and in dropbox. But not on my laptop. And the external isn’t always connected to the computer.

 So I started the trial for the advanced business plan and was backing up files. Problem is that the files also get stored on to my computer… 6.5Tb…

 I asked to de helpdesk before I started and explained exactly what I need and someone told me that the business plan would be great for me. And now someone else says that it isn’t possible the way I want it.

Am I the only photographer who wants to keep his files safe and doesn’t want them stored on line only?

 

Thanks, Daniel

1 Accepted Solution

Accepted Solutions
Highlighted

Re: Backing up and syncing from external HD to the Dropbox folder issues

Super User II
Super User II

@Danman wrote:

Ok, so are you saying that I could sync my files from my external drive to dropbox and use smart sync to not let them be backed up on my computer. But they will remain on my external drive?


No. Unless you move the Dropbox folder to your external drive, which isn't suggested, there's no way to sync files with your external drive.

What I was saying is that if the Dropbox folder is on your laptop, and you use Selective Sync on a folder, it will be removed from the Dropbox folder and not your external drive. Dropbox can only interact with the Dropbox folder.

In this scenario with Dropbox on your laptop and your files on the external drive, any folders you want stored on Dropbox would need to be MANUALLY copied to the Dropbox folder, allowed to sync completely, and then you could remove them from the Dropbox folder using Selective Sync so they only remain online. Again, this is a MANUAL process where you will need to be vigilant about copying files to and from Dropbox as needed so everything is up to date.

Again, Dropbox will not do what you want it to do with your configuration. It's simply not designed for it. No cloud storage service that I know of will work the way you want it to.

View solution in original post

13 Replies 13
Highlighted

Re: Backing up and syncing from external HD to the Dropbox folder issues

Dropboxer
Dropboxer

Hey Daniel (@Danman), I’d happily follow-up on your inquiry & clarify matters for you as much as I can, thanks for your detailed post!  

Based on your description, I can see the following options that could help you get going on the matter:
 

 I want my files to back up and sync on line and I would like to be able to work from dropbox when I am not at home, and don't have access to my External drive.


My colleague- Jay- has created this resource that could be helpful if you'd like to back up your files to your account online. Once all your files are synced online as expected, you’ll be able to share them using our website
 

 I want it to sync automatically and I want to keep the files on my external and in dropbox.

Following, you can also move the Dropbox folder to your external hard drive Daniel, though it would be worth noting that SD cards, or any device considered "Removable media" by your operating system, are not supported locations for the Dropbox folder. Dropbox works best when hosted on your computer's main internal drive, or on a physically connected external hard drive. If you decide to follow this route, please proceed with caution & ensure that your external drive is always connected to your pc to avoid deletions. 
 

Problem is that the files also get stored on to my computer… 6.5Tb…
I’m wondering whether you’ve had a chance to check out our Selective Sync & Smart Sync features to save up some space & keep only the files you really need available across your devices. Can you have a look here & let me know whether that’s what you’re looking for? 
 

I am getting mixed information from the Dropbox helpdesk and could use some help.

Last but not least, I 've been able to locate your open correspondence with my colleague on our system & I could see that they're awaiting your reply. I've made sure to include a copy of your comments here, in case you'd like to continue discussing your options via that channel. 
 
I hope that my suggestions make matters a bit more clear to you, though I’m always here if you’d like me to explain any of the above in a bit more depth. Thanks!

 


Jane
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
https://dropbox.com/support

 

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Highlighted

Re: Backing up and syncing from external HD to the Dropbox folder issues

Helpful | Level 5

Hello Jane,

 Thanks for your reply.

 

 My colleague- Jay- has created this resource that could be helpful if you'd like to back up your files to your account online. Once all your files are synced online as expected, you’ll be able to share them using our website

 Correct me if I misunderstand it but Isn't that a way to create an on line back up only? Like I said: I want to keep the files on my external drive and have them synced to dropbox.

 

Following, you can also move the Dropbox folder to your external hard drive Daniel, though it would be worth noting that SD cards, or any device considered "Removable media" by your operating system, are not supported locations for the Dropbox folder. Dropbox works best when hosted on your computer's main internal drive, or on a physically connected external hard drive.

Like I said: I have all my files on an external Drobo HD. This is a removable device and I mentioned that it is not always connected to my laptop. I want to work from my external drive when at home and have it sync to Dropbox. And when not at home, on an assignment, I obviously don’t take my Drobo external drive (it’s a big thing). Then I want to work from dropbox on line and have it sync when I reconnect the External drive.

So obviously I can’t move the dropbox folder to the external drive.

 

 

I’m wondering whether you’ve had a chance to check out our Selective Sync & Smart Sync features to save up some space & keep only the files you really need available across your devices. Can you have a look here & let me know whether that’s what you’re looking for? 

Yes, I did check out selective sync. But like I said: I want to keep the files on my external drive and not be on line only. Your colleague mentioned that when using smart or selective sync my files will deleted from my external drive and be on line only. I don’t want that.

I mentioned this several times in my talk with your colleague.

 

Last but not least, I ve been able to locate your open correspondence with my colleague on our system & I could see that they're awaiting your reply. I've made sure to include a copy of your comments here, in case you'd like to continue discussing your options via that channel. 

Yes, it’s open because he finally responded (after I sent an extra email asking him to respond) when I was asleep. I am in a different time zone, in The Netherlands. Have you read the correspondence? He is constantly coming up with solutions he has mentioned before but don’t work. It’s like he isn’t reading what I have been writing and what the real issue is. And he says it can’t be done but others say it can be done. This is pretty confusing….

And my first contact with Dropbox, who said he was my contact and I should always connect with him with questions doesn’t respond at all anymore. He’s the one who said that there would be no problem at all for me using dropbox the way I want. He suggested the advanced business plan…

 

 

I hope that my suggestions make matters a bit more clear to you, though I’m always here if you’d like me to explain any of the above in a bit more depth. Thanks!

I'm sorry, it hasn't made it more clear for me yet. I definitely would like to learn more and hear a definitive answer to my questions.

For some reason it feels like I am asking something strange. Am I the only photographer that wants to keep his files safe and be able to access them on line when working on location?

I mean obviously people who have 6.5Tb (and that’s why I need the unlimited business plan) don’t have it stored on their computer. So it’s on an external drive. All my photography friends work the same. So I can’t put the dropbox folder there, because it’s removable. 

And I would be completely crazy if I delete all my files from my External drive and have them on line only. It seems logical to keep them in several places. And there is no way that a wifi connection can keep up with the speed of a Thunderbolt connection when I work from my External Drive. I need the speed but when working on location, it’s ok. It’s logical to do with a bit less then.

 

Please help!

Kind Regards, Daniel

Highlighted

Re: Backing up and syncing from external HD to the Dropbox folder issues

Super User II
Super User II

@Danman wrote:

Correct me if I misunderstand it but Isn't that a way to create an on line back up only?

Not in the way you're intending, because Dropbox is not a backup service. The entire point of Dropbox is to sync the local copy of your files (in the Dropbox folder on your comptuer) with your account online an any other comptuers linked to your account. Yes, Dropbox has some backup-like feature, but it is a file synchroniation service; not a backup service.


This is a removable device and I mentioned that it is not always connected to my laptop.

If your Dropbox folder is on the external drive, then this can be a dangerous scenario. If the drive is disconnected while Dropbox is running, or Dropbox is started while the drive is disconnected, there's a remote chance, under the right circumstances, that Dropbox could see this as a deletion of your files and sync that deletion to your account online. For this reason, it's highly recommended that Dropbox not sync to an external drive.


Your colleague mentioned that when using smart or selective sync my files will deleted from my external drive and be on line only.

They'll be deleted from the Dropbox folder on your computer. If you keep the files separate (a copy on your external drive, the Dropbox folder on your computer using Selective Sync or Smart Sync), then you'll still have your files on the drive, they won't be on your computer (Dropbox folder) and will be in your account online. But, this isn't a scenario where files will sync. This would be a manual copy from your drive to the Dropbox folder, wait for them to sync, then remove them using Selective Sync or Smart Sync.

Ultimately, what you're asking for isn't something Dropbox can, or is intended to, provide. You could find worakarounds such as the example above where you're manually copying files back and forth so you can use it as a backup, but that's not how it's supposed to work and would be clunky at best.

The intent of Dropbox is that the Dropbox folder is on your local drive, syncing files in your account as you use them, with larges folders removed using Selective Sync or marking files or folders as Online-only using Smart Sync.

Highlighted

Re: Backing up and syncing from external HD to the Dropbox folder issues

Helpful | Level 5

Hi Rich,

 Not in the way you're intending, because Dropbox is not a backup service. The entire point of Dropbox is to sync the local copy of your files (in the Dropbox folder on your comptuer) with your account online an any other comptuers linked to your account. Yes, Dropbox has some backup-like feature, but it is a file synchroniation service; not a backup service.

 

Yes, but I do want to synchronise. So that I have the same files on my external drive and on line, in dropbox.

But not on my laptop because it’s too much. And I want to be able to work on line when necessary.

 

If your Dropbox folder is on the external drive, then this can be a dangerous scenario. If the drive is disconnected while Dropbox is running, or Dropbox is started while the drive is disconnected, there's a remote chance, under the right circumstances, that Dropbox could see this as a deletion of your files and sync that deletion to your account online. For this reason, it's highly recommended that Dropbox not sync to an external drive.

 My dropbox folder is not on my external drive. It’s on my laptop. That’s what I am explaining here. The external removable so I can’t put the dropbox folder there.

 

 They'll be deleted from the Dropbox folder on your computer. If you keep the files separate (a copy on your external drive, the Dropbox folder on your computer using Selective Sync or Smart Sync), then you'll still have your files on the drive, they won't be on your computer (Dropbox folder) and will be in your account online. But, this isn't a scenario where files will sync. This would be a manual copy from your drive to the Dropbox folder, wait for them to sync, then remove them using Selective Sync or Smart Sync.

Ultimately, what you're asking for isn't something Dropbox can, or is intended to, provide. You could find worakarounds such as the example above where you're manually copying files back and forth so you can use it as a backup, but that's not how it's supposed to work and would be clunky at best.

The intent of Dropbox is that the Dropbox folder is on your local drive, syncing files in your account as you use them, with larges folders removed using Selective Sync or marking files or folders as Online-only using Smart Sync.

 

 Ok, so are you saying that I could sync my files from my external drive to dropbox and use smart sync to not let them be backed up on my computer. But they will remain on my external drive? That is very important to know. I have gotten mixed information about this. The helpdesk said that they will disappear from my external drive.

 You mention that I should first sync them and then use selective or smart sync to delete them from the dropbox folder on my computer. But it’s 6.5Tb. Can I set it to selective sync from the start so they don’t end up there?

 

Yes, it seems like a hassle to have to work this way (and an expensive option). But at least my files will be safe in case of fire or theft…. Tough decision.

 

Thanks for your reply!

Highlighted

Re: Backing up and syncing from external HD to the Dropbox folder issues

Super User II
Super User II

@Danman wrote:

Ok, so are you saying that I could sync my files from my external drive to dropbox and use smart sync to not let them be backed up on my computer. But they will remain on my external drive?


No. Unless you move the Dropbox folder to your external drive, which isn't suggested, there's no way to sync files with your external drive.

What I was saying is that if the Dropbox folder is on your laptop, and you use Selective Sync on a folder, it will be removed from the Dropbox folder and not your external drive. Dropbox can only interact with the Dropbox folder.

In this scenario with Dropbox on your laptop and your files on the external drive, any folders you want stored on Dropbox would need to be MANUALLY copied to the Dropbox folder, allowed to sync completely, and then you could remove them from the Dropbox folder using Selective Sync so they only remain online. Again, this is a MANUAL process where you will need to be vigilant about copying files to and from Dropbox as needed so everything is up to date.

Again, Dropbox will not do what you want it to do with your configuration. It's simply not designed for it. No cloud storage service that I know of will work the way you want it to.

View solution in original post

Highlighted

Re: Backing up and syncing from external HD to the Dropbox folder issues

Helpful | Level 5

Hi Rich,

 Ah yes, that is basically what I understood. I said it differently….

Except that I had hoped that I could do the selective sync while I was uploading. But I guess that’s not possible.

 

This seems like a very long and slow process, to get 6.5Tb on to Dropbox this way.

I could live with manually backing up files after everything is stored on Dropbox. But getting them on there is going to take months this way. Because I’d have to do it in tiny batches and every time get rid of the files on my laptop.

 

Strange that there is no Cloud storage service that works that way.

Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it!

I wish someone from Dropbox had helped me this way from the beginning. I wasted a lot of time trying to communicate with them and in the mean time getting all kinds of mixed information. Cheers, Daniel

Highlighted

Re: Backing up and syncing from external HD to the Dropbox folder issues

Explorer | Level 4

Hi, Daniel

Thanks for asking this question, as I have the exact situation. No, I can't imagine you're the only one!

What did you decide to do to get a 2nd backup of your external hard drive? I also use Lightroom, and my external hard drive is primary storage. But I need a backup.

Cheers

Kathy

Highlighted

Re: Backing up and syncing from external HD to the Dropbox folder issues

Helpful | Level 5

Hi Kathy,

Thanks for reaching out. It’s pretty frustrating isn’t it?

In the end I decided not to use Dropbox. It’s too complicated and it looks like too many things could go wrong. I mean, what we are asking is basically very simple but no one seems to be making something simple, it seems.

I do have a back up at home because I have two Drobos, one for back up. But I want to back up my files off the premises in case of theft or fire and be able to reach my files when working from somewhere else.

So I decided to leave a back up of everything at my brother’s house, except the latest things I’m working on. I just bring an HD every few months…

And I got the 2Tb Apple storage plan and just back up the stuff from the two last years there. And also the stuff that I am working on. I don’t let the computer back things up automatically there because then it gets weird too. 

Unfortunately I have to back it all up by hand and it’s very time consuming but I don’t think there is a beter solution at the moment. I decided to do this until I find something that works.

I gave up on the idea to find something that will back up automatically. I would be fine with a place that I can store all the 6.5 Tb and reach it from everywhere in the world.

So I am waiting for something better to come along but at least my files are safe now.

I hope this helps a bit….

Let me know what you will do. I’m always interesting in hearing other people’s views and ideas!

Kind Regards, Daniel

Highlighted

Re: Backing up and syncing from external HD to the Dropbox folder issues

Explorer | Level 4

Do you have a Mac? I don't remember to do as often as I should, but backing up the external hard drive to time machine is something I do. Wonder if that may work for you? I have also used backblaze in the past; takes days and days to back up everything, but once it does, then updating while your hard drive is plugged in shouldn't take too long. For the rest of your computer, it just runs all the time in the background.

Thanks for bringing this up.  I have tons of space on dropbox, but apparently will need another option :(.

Kathy

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