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new symlink handling breaks current workflow

Helpful | Level 6

Dropbox is changing the way it handles symlinks. The change breaks my current simple workflow, and I can't seem to find a workaround.

I have a directory A that I manage via git source control. It contains subdirectories and files.

A
+---.git
+---B
+---C
\---D.txt

I want to share a subdirectory B (and only that subdirectory) via a shared Dropbox folder, and have it sync and share updates when I do a git pull. So I put a symlink pointing to B in my shared Dropbox folder. 

This has been working beautifully for years. But with the upcoming changes, it is no longer possible to use a symlink to sync and share files outside of Dropbox (or outside a shared folder).

Any suggestions?

I'm simply looking for a way to share B via Dropbox without sharing A or C or D (or .git), while keeping the full contents of A intact.

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32 Replies

Re: new symlink handling breaks current workflow

Dropboxer

Hey there @rdzman,

To be able to share the files you'll need to move them within the Dropbox folder on your computer. I would suggest that you can move the entire A directory within your Dropbox folder, and you can then share only the B folder within it with the steps listed here. 

Choosing to share only the sub-folder B will not enable others to be able to see any other content above it such as A, C, or file D. 

Let me know if this helps - thanks!


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


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Re: new symlink handling breaks current workflow

Helpful | Level 6

Ok, thanks. But suppose I already have a Dropbox folder X, containing the symlink to B (along with numerous other symlinks like it), that is already shared with a large group of people. I want to manage the sharing via that single parent folder X, and not have to duplicate the sharing permissions for all of the individual subdirectories like B. Also, the directory structure of X is important (i.e. if I share B individually, but it doesn't show up inside X for others, it won't work).

Is this still possible?

Is there a way to keep using the old symlink handling?

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Re: new symlink handling breaks current workflow

Dropboxer

Hey @rdzman,

Unfortunately there isn't much I can suggest here since symlinks are not supported for using with Dropbox as the behaviour can be very unpredictable. They can lead to syncing and permission issues and even result in data loss.

The best method I can suggest for managing your files is to make sure all the files you need to access are present within the Dropbox folder. Also, to share content directly from the folder itself by using the steps outlined here or by using shared links.

As you thread will remain open, there may be some other users who can suggest an alternative with the current set up you have.

Sorry that I can't be of much more help here!


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


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Re: new symlink handling breaks current workflow

Helpful | Level 5

Hey there

I am quite surprised about this decision. Just got in contact with the live chat and there is indeed no workaround. This decision is, in my opinion, breaking the workflow of a lot of people. For me, as a photographer, how can I upload/backup my 50-150GB of pictures per session to dropbox without the need of copying it to my limited-storage device?
I am not even able to copy the pictures to my local DP folder, thus of storage limitations.

The "official suggestion" is the symlink-reverse-workaround, but this is not working if one is facing storage limitations.
Further, I think many people have defined their familiar folder structure on their devices, and are not willing to put all data in subfolders of the local DP folder.

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Re: new symlink handling breaks current workflow

Dropboxer

Hey there @hallo02,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this here! I've made sure to pass along your feedback to our dev team for review.

In regards to the issue you mentioned, the only work around I would be able to suggest would be to move as much data as possible with the limited storage to the Dropbox folder for uploading. Once the application has synced the files to your account, you can apply smart sync to the files so they don't take space on your hard drive and then move the next batch of data.

I hope that this helps to some extent!


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


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Re: new symlink handling breaks current workflow

Helpful | Level 6

I agree. I suspect it will break a lot of workflows. Unfortunately, for me it looks like it will mean Dropbox can simply no longer do what I need for that workflow and I'll have to find another non-Dropbox solution.

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Re: new symlink handling breaks current workflow

Helpful | Level 5

Concerning the above discussion I tried around to find a way to keep Dropbox as my cloud provider and still keep my used workflow.

The following procedure works for my workflow:
Copy big-data from an external harddrive to Dropbox. The option to copy big-data from the harddrive to your local Dropbox folder is not possible, thus of storage limitations

1. Create an additional macOS user dropbox-copier. Log off your current macOS user, and log in as dropbox-copier.

2. Configure Dropbox for dropbox-copier, and place the Dropbox folder for user dropbox-copier at your external harddrive (besides your big-data).

3. Use selective synchronization and synchronize the parent folder where your big-data should be placed only.

4. Move your big-data into the synchronized parent folder on your external harddrive.

5. Handle external harddrive eject and user log off properly to avoid data loss. Consider the order: i. Stop Dropox, ii. Eject external harddrive, iii. Log off dropbox-copier.

6. Back logged in as your default user, set the new Dropbox folder as "online-only" resp. deselect it in your selective synchronization settings.

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Re: new symlink handling breaks current workflow

Helpful | Level 5

I just got the email from Dropbox.  I started another thread as this one didn’t come up in a search...

This breaks Dropbox for me.  I have multiple, paid, accounts and use symlinks extensively.  I’m a photographer and have a large catalogue of files.  Way bigger than the space on my primary local harddrive.  I use symlinks to link in my RAW camera data from external storage.  For my asset management software it looks like all my data is in the same place.  It’s also nicely backed up at multiple points.  I don’t use selective sync as I can often be offline, on a plane or in China for example, and then only have access to files on my local disks.

I also use symlinks to synchronise some application settings and folders like my Desktop between my four different computers.  I’m potentially looking at a complete breakdown of my computers.

My main concern right now is that one day soon all my computers will die with out of disk space as Dropbox converts my symlinks to folders and tried to copy data currently residing on RAID etc to my startup disk.  I suspect this will be a server side change not needing a SW update on the computer so I will have no way to stick with the current version while I look for an alternative product.

This decision by Dropbox is completely brain dead.

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Re: new symlink handling breaks current workflow

New member | Level 2
This ruins my workflow in Dropbox as well. In addition to the reasons mentioned above, I have also used Dropbox with symlinks to local OSX system folders that the operating system expects to be in a certain place. One simple example is my downloads folder and documents folder is synced to my Dropbox with a symlink. I have multiple computers and need to upgrade computers often and having this setup means I can be sure my data is where I expect without manual intervention.

It also means I can be up and running without effort even if a physical hard drive data restore is not currently available.

Now this is no longer possible.

I’m really not happy with this change.

I’m also really not happy with how the announcement was handled by dropbox.

I have been a paying customer since 2010.

I felt like Dropbox simply said we are changing this and we don’t care about you. I don’t feel like proper solutions or alternatives were presented.
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