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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.

1 Reply

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


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!


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Moving folders/files to meet new symlink rules.
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