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Sharing a Dropbox folder between Mac and Windows 10 Bootcamp

Sharing a Dropbox folder between Mac and Windows 10 Bootcamp

JordanC
Helpful | Level 5

Hello,

 

I just purchased a new MacBook Pro which will be used for both MacOS and Windows 10 via Bootcamp. I have limited SSD space, so I wanted to try to make them share a Dropbox folder.

 

My plan is to create three partitions - One with HFS (or whatever the MacOS file system is called), one with NTFS for Windows 10 and a third partition with FAT32 that both OS's can read/write without issue.

 

However, that would mean two different Dropbox clients will both be looking at files that may have been changed by the other Dropbox client. For example, if I work on Mac all day and make 100 changes to files, then load up Windows 10, that Dropbox application would see a whole bunch of changes that it didn't make. 

 

Has anyone tried anything like this? Would it work? I was hoping to get some insight to avoid wasting a ton of time. Thanks!!

 

EDIT - Don't try it! Unless you are willing to turn off Spotlight (mac Search functionality).. When you set up a FAT32 drive with a Mac as a permanent volume and it starts to index it for Spotlight, it adds metadata to "hidden" files which have the same name as the regular files but are formated with a ._ at the beginning (called "dot underscore files" if you want to learn more). I put "hidden" in quotes because while they are hidden files on your Mac, Dropbox picks them up and they become very visible files for everyone else. One of my shared folders was shared with a client, and I accidentally added extra, annoying files with ._ at the beginning of their name to tens of thousands of files! There is an easy fix:

  1. Back up your files (they should be backed up to Dropbox already, but you can never be too careful)
  2. Unlink Dropbox from your computer
  3. Delete the Dropbox folder including all of its content. You don't have to do this if it's an external drive and you want to keep the data on there for some reason, but never, ever link this folder to Dropbox again, unless you want the same headache.
  4. Install Dropbox again from scratch - but this time set the file location on your Mac's HD (or any other Apple/HFS formatted hard drive). Don't use selective Sync - let all of the files download. This might take a long time...
  5. Once Dropbox is up to date, open Terminal, navigate to your new Dropbox folder, and type the following:
find . -name '._*' -exec rm -v {} \;

 

This will delete every ._ file in the folder, including any subfolders. For me it was hundreds of thousands of files in thousands of folders! The -v lets you see status as it works.

 

1 Accepted Solution

Accepted Solutions

Re: Sharing a Dropbox folder between Mac and Windows 10 Bootcamp

Rich
Super User II

It can work, but it's not a supported configuration and if you run into any problems, you'll be on your own.

 

Basically, you'll install Dropbox on the first OS and specify the location you want the Dropbox folder to be in. Wait for the account to be fully synced. If you use Selective Sync at all, disable it so ALL folders are syncing. Once fully synced, install Dropbox on the other OS, again pointing it to the same location as the first. Remember, you're specifying the folder that you want Dropbox to be in, so you want to select the folder above the current Dropbox folder. If you select the existing Dropbox folder, you'll end up creating a Dropbox within a Dropbox.

 

It's extremely important that you DO NOT USE SELECTIVE SYNC while running in this configuration. If you do, it will cause files to be deleted from your account.

View solution in original post

5 Replies 5

Re: Sharing a Dropbox folder between Mac and Windows 10 Bootcamp

Rich
Super User II

It can work, but it's not a supported configuration and if you run into any problems, you'll be on your own.

 

Basically, you'll install Dropbox on the first OS and specify the location you want the Dropbox folder to be in. Wait for the account to be fully synced. If you use Selective Sync at all, disable it so ALL folders are syncing. Once fully synced, install Dropbox on the other OS, again pointing it to the same location as the first. Remember, you're specifying the folder that you want Dropbox to be in, so you want to select the folder above the current Dropbox folder. If you select the existing Dropbox folder, you'll end up creating a Dropbox within a Dropbox.

 

It's extremely important that you DO NOT USE SELECTIVE SYNC while running in this configuration. If you do, it will cause files to be deleted from your account.

Re: Sharing a Dropbox folder between Mac and Windows 10 Bootcamp

JordanC
Helpful | Level 5

Thank you! On your advice, I'm going to invest the time to try this setup. I will report back with my results.

Re: Sharing a Dropbox folder between Mac and Windows 10 Bootcamp

JordanC
Helpful | Level 5

Well that didn't work out very well...

 

The Mac was making hidden files for each folder (I.e. if there was a folder called Stuff, it would make a file called ._stuff ) and totally spammed a bunch of shared folders. No way to turn off uploading these hidden files. On top of that, I got some sort of error that caused it to get stuck at 49 files remaining to sync (out of hundreds of thousands).

 

I guess in the end I will just have a Dropbox folder in both Mac and Windows partitions.. Thanks anyway for trying to help!

Re: Sharing a Dropbox folder between Mac and Windows 10 Bootcamp

Rich
Super User II

JordanC wrote:

The Mac was making hidden files for each folder (I.e. if there was a folder called Stuff, it would make a file called ._stuff )


That's the result of storing files on a non-native drive partition. Native partitions for OS X and macOS are able to store metadata for files. When the partition type being used can't store that data, your Mac will write it to additional ._ files (known as Apple Double files) which all other systems (Windows, Dropbox, etc.) will be able to see, and which Dropbox will sync. If you can use a partition type that is native to Mac and that also is accessible by Windows, you likely won't see those files. I just don't know if Windows can read the Mac partition types.

Re: Sharing a Dropbox folder between Mac and Windows 10 Bootcamp

JordanC
Helpful | Level 5

Thanks for your reply.

 

Windows can read Mac partitions, and vice versa, but in both cases you need a secondary program/driver. I would go down that route, but I'm running out of time to play around with this machine and really need to get to work ... so I think I'm just going to end up with two Dropbox folders on the same physical hard drive (one in the Mac partition, one in the Windows partition). I guess it's good I got a 512GB SSD this time around.

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    JordanC Helpful | Level 5
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