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Moving folders/files to meet new symlink rules.

Explorer | Level 3

What’s the best way to comply with the new synchronization rules that require replacing a  symlink pointer to an outside location with that outside data itself?

When I began using Dropbox, the concept of cloud storage was new and I was unsure of how it would work work for me, so I left my most important files in a single folder on my Mac desktop’s hard drive and created a  symlink in the Dropbox folder that pointed/linked to the data where it lie outside of Dropbox. I used a  symlink because I’d heard that a Mac Aliases wouldn’t work. 

All went well for years. I was happy with how Dropbox satisfied my primary need for an offsite data backup app. When I began using more devices like an iPhone, an iPad, a Laptop and a 2nd Desktop I appreciated Dropbox’s easy, hidden, and fast background synchronization across all my devices. I confidently left my files where the synchronization process put them inside the Dropbox folder on the other devices but kept the originals outside of the Dropbox folder on my main desktop. (Note: the name of the Dropbox symlink matches the name of the topmost folder in the ‘outside’ location which holds 1.5 GB in 400 folders.)

Now, Dropbox says they will no longer use the linking properties of symlinks, but treat them as simple files; data pointed to by symlinks won’t be seen by Dropbox for synchronization purposes. 

This presents me with a conversion problem: How do I get data stored outside the Dropbox folder (and used by legacy desktop apps from that ‘outside’ location) into the Dropbox folder without messing up the synchronization of my other devices or invoking massive data transfers up to the cloud and down to the other devices?

* Only this one symlink exists in my DropBox folder. But there are lots of Mac aliases in that 1,5GB of stuff.

* If I arbitrarily delete the ‘inside’ symlink and move the outside data folder into the Dropbox folder, will I trigger a massive re-sync of all devices, deleting and replacing all the synced copies?

* Should I stop synchronization before making any moves and restart it afterward?

* Should I somehow force a re-sync after the data is moved?

* Mac’s TimeMachine backs-up everything. 

* Once the data is moved I’ll keep my desktop apps happy by creating a like-named Mac alias in the ‘outside’ location pointing to the new ‘inside’ location.

* How will Dropbox handle the pointer files now moved inside Dropbox that point other files also now moved inside Dropbox? Will they work? Must they be symlinks or Aliases?

Any suggestions and precautions would be appreciated.

33 Replies

Re: Moving folders/files to meet new symlink rules.

Dropboxer

Hi @cburtt72, thanks for checking in about this!

In order for your content to sync to Dropbox we recommend that you move your actual data into the Dropbox folder itself on your computer.

One workaround is to create a symlink to where the data was previously located, so that way the symlink is outside of the Dropbox folder and the actual data will sync in your Dropbox.

As clarified in this article, by doing the above you'll still be able to access the data at a location outside of the Dropbox folder in addition to within your Dropbox, while also ensuring smooth syncing of the Dropbox desktop app. 

I'm afraid I am not able to advise on how this may affect third party apps, but let me know if the above info and article help!

Thanks!

 


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


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Re: Moving folders/files to meet new symlink rules.

Helpful | Level 5

"One workaround is to create a symlink to where the data was previously located, so that way the symlink is outside of the Dropbox folder and the actual data will sync in your Dropbox."

 

Celeste, I use symlinks to sync my Documents folders on my mac desktop and my mac laptop. And macs will want to use the Documents folder and will create one if it is deleted. Plus, I like to have my data on my machine. Under this situation, how do you suggest I do what you rocommended here? Thanks

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Re: Moving folders/files to meet new symlink rules.

Dropboxer

Hey @aerotech, thanks for nudging us on this thread!

Since your Documents folder is a default system folder, I wouldn't recommend symlinking it to your Dropbox folder, as it can create various issues, including permissions and syncing errors. 

However, what you can try is to create a regular folder in your Dropbox folder, copy content from your Documents folder into it, and symlink the new folder to another location on your Mac. 

You can read more about symlinks here

I hope this helps to some extent!


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


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Re: Moving folders/files to meet new symlink rules.

Explorer | Level 4

Hi, am experiencing the same issues.

For years, I could access my Document and Desktop folders which are part of my Macbook, as these folders are directly synced to my Dropbox account.

Now, due to the symlink update, I need to manually find these files within the Dropbox folder located on my Mac. 

When I save a file from my iphone, and leave it in the folder "Documents (Symlink-backup Copy)", it appears in my Dropbox folder, but not on my desktop or document folder in Mac. 

Is there a workaround for this, so it syncs seamlessly, wtihout having to manually access these files within the dropbox folder? I am on Catalina 10.15.2.

Many thanks!

 

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Re: Moving folders/files to meet new symlink rules.

Dropboxer

Hey @matryoshkan, welcome to the Dropbox Community!

The setup that we currently recommend having when it comes to symlinks is to have the original folder in your Dropbox folder symlinked to another one outside of it. 

In any case, have a look at this article (if you haven't already) and I'll also leave this thread open in case any other like-minded users  have similar experiences to share with us here. 

Let us know if you have any other questions!


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


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Re: Moving folders/files to meet new symlink rules.

Helpful | Level 5

@Lusil wrote:

Hey @matryoshkan, welcome to the Dropbox Community!

The setup that we currently recommend having when it comes to symlinks is to have the original folder in your Dropbox folder symlinked to another one outside of it.


Lusil, that is the same answer I've gotten from all the Dropbox folks, but I don't see how that gives us what we want, plus we have to put our files in the cloud and not on our machines where the mac OS expects them to be. Macs require a local Documents folder to exist on the mac. If you're suggesting putting it in the Cloud instead and symlinking back to a local folder on machine, first of all that folder must be called "Documents". Also, what happens when I or my mac creates a new file and puts in my local Documents folder?

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Re: Moving folders/files to meet new symlink rules.

Helpful | Level 5

I am experiencing the same isssue. This new Dropbox rule is more and more frustrating me. I really do not understand why a symlink should be treated differently from a version to another one. The suggestion 'to move all the files inside Dropbox' is NOT a solution.

I am a old customer but I am now considering to move to other services. Please, give to Mac users a workaround, or you will loose the majority of them in few time.

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Re: Moving folders/files to meet new symlink rules.

Dropboxer

Hello everyone! 

We appreciate the feedback and how this change is affecting you.

Please bear in mind, symlinks were never supported and when they were able to function in Dropbox a large proportion of users reported to be having syncing issues which our support could only fix when the symlinks were removed.

I understand you need a solution for your set up to work. As Lusil suggested, the solution we can offer, at this time, for Dropbox to sync effectively is in the following article:

How to use symlinks with Dropbox

Let us know if you managed move the files in Dropbox and point your symlinks the other way around or if you need help with the movement.

Thank you all for using Dropbox.


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


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Re: Moving folders/files to meet new symlink rules.

Explorer | Level 3
Closest to the ideal solution that I have found is the following, to use Mac OSX watch folder feature. You need to attach the script that will be syncing content to a dropbox folder once any new file is added or existing file modified. See article: https://developer.apple.com/library/archive/documentation/LanguagesUtilities/Conceptual/MacAutomatio...
The only issue is doubling the storage space that’s why the dropbox folder needs to be marked as online-only.
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Moving folders/files to meet new symlink rules.
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