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Re: Disaster: Dropbox removing external disk support for Mac users :(

Disaster: Dropbox removing external disk support for Mac users :(

Jon C.10
Collaborator | Level 8
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In case anyone's unaware... if you're a Mac user storing your Dropbox on an external drive, you'll shortly lose that ability.


Just confirmed this with DB support (see below).  Gutted - been with Dropbox for years and our entire video team flow is based around it 😕

>Hi there, I read today that you are scrapping the ability to store the Dropbox folder on external disks, on OSX. I'd like to ask more about this please.

> Hello Jon, and thank you for contacting Dropbox Support. My name is Joseph, and I will be more than happy to look into your request, right away.  

That is correct Jon, as part of the Dropbox for macOS update, the Dropbox folder must be located in ~/Library/CloudStorage.

>This is a showstopper for us, and will mean we have to move to another service. We have a large distributed team using DB for video work, no way it'll fit within internal drives.
Is there a workaround?


> I totally understand and I apologize for the inconvenience. Unfortunately, there is no workaround on this as changing the location of your Dropbox folder is no longer supported by macOS.

>This change doesn't seem to have hit us yet - we're running a variety of machines inc Ventura
What will trigger its enforcement? Can we stay on an earlier OS or Dropbox version?

>The updates happening automatically every time the Dropbox app is restarting, for example if your device never restarts it should maintain the older version but we can't guarantee full functionality on older versions of the application.

>So what will happen - if we have a Dropbox folder on an 8TB drive and a tiny internal drive - will it try to clone stuff across and eat up the space? What's the mechanism?

>That's right, it will try to move the content on your internal drive until it has no space and gives you an error.

>Is Smartsync still supported? I.e. will it move stuff to being online only if it won't fit?

>It is, however it is now known as online-only.

678 Replies 678

Helpful | Level 5
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This is also extremely worrisome to our future as well. We've spent years revolving around this feature and it is absolutely business critical. Without this feature of moving the sync folder anywhere, our entire sector of business will come to a complete stop. We use this feature so much because of the advantages it brings to processing, rendering and handling files locally that we can not do efficiently in the cloud. As of right now, we're being advised to not update the OS and thus the app will not get updated and remove the feature. However when we bring a new computer onboard, we will be forced to use the new OS that the machine ships with and will not be able to run a legacy OS and will be forced into the app version without the folder relocation. This is very worrisome. Without this particular feature, if we're forced to change our workflow, we're probably going to have to change our platform altogether. It would be a tough sell to attempt to use and pay for two different systems. We really don't want to leave Dropbox! You've been so great to us for so long!

Help us Dropbox Team, You're our only hope!

Community Manager
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Hello everyone. Thank you for your feedback.

We understand that this is a significant pain point for you and your teams that rely on having Dropbox sync on external drives.
Currently, the File Provider API only supports your Dropbox folder in ~/Library/CloudStorage. We are actively working on a solution to support external drives on the updated Dropbox for macOS. While we work to implement a solution, customers who have their Dropbox folder on an external drive will not be migrated to the updated macOS experience. External drive support will continue to work as usual on your current experience.

We will keep you updated when we have more details to share.

Helpful | Level 7
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"While we work to implement a solution, customers who have their Dropbox folder on an external drive will not be migrated to the updated macOS experience. External drive support will continue to work as usual on your current experience."


Hallelujah! Thank you, Dropbox, for listening. 


May I suggest that in the future, for those of us who contacted Customer Support directly, you give us mere mortals confirmation that our feedback is being taken seriously and being passed upwards?


I made an attempt at that and was told outright by the service person that they would not escalate the issue.  After asking to escalate the issue 6 times, I was told:


"Charlotte: Unfortunately, I cannot escalate your case, I'm really sorry that I can't help more with this"


As a Business Advanced customer, that's completely unacceptable.


You were ->this<- close to losing us as a customer; in fact we were testing out OneDrive today to see if it'd fit our needs.

Helpful | Level 6
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Do not edit fstab on current versions of macOS, I have learned this the hard way.

Helpful | Level 5
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Thank you 👍🏻

Helpful | Level 6
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CloudMounter is another similar option. Currently I have it installed alongside the desktop app. So far I havent experienced the change.

I have the cloudmounter to access the ssd files when Im no carrying it.

Collaborator | Level 10
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This issue had me spinning out for days, now, hardly allowing me to think of anything else, because it would have impacted my workflow gravely, or rather, made it impossible to work with my clients and sub-contractor as I had been for over a decade.

Finally, there is hope that this will all be taken care of in due time, and my files are safe on my external NVMe's, in the meantime. I had just invested over $2000 in external RAID and NVMe storage solutions to replace the spinning drives that previously held my 2,2TB Dropbox file library, and was overjoyed to finally use them as if they were stored on internal storage...and then the bad news, which made my heart sink.

Thank you for giving this the urgent care it deserves and working on avoiding a mass exodus from Dropbox to...well...where would we go?

Ru 1971
Helpful | Level 6
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>I feel your pain dude, I long stopped trusting Dropbox with large storage.

>I'm moving to Google which can store up to 30TB - problem solved 🙂


Not wishing to de-rail this thread, but are Google publicly committed to providing Google-drive on External storage going forward?

I worked at a U.K college last year that used MS One-drive for site-wide backup & syncing, but it appeared totally incompatible with Apple creative apps. It literally couldn't backup Logic Pro projects, without giving errors, due to 'illegal filename characters' which were auto generated by Logic during recording/cacheing, so have discounted that from my Dropbox alternatives.

I too had a conversation with Dropbox support, where they refused point-blank to give any kind of refund (not that that's really the biggest problem), & simply blamed Apple for the Fiasco. 

My yearly membership renews in June, so I'm taking the step of cancelling my auto-renewal today , & looking for viable alternative for my business & customers.

Aside from all the extra work & uncertainty this is causing, I feel particularly aggrieved as I have converted dozens of my customers to dropbox, in order to share workflows. 

I will be emailing everyone to explain that their data is now unfortunately at risk, & that I am researching alternatives. 

It makes me look incompetent for recommending dropbox in the first place.

Super User II
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@davidgaw wrote:

Unfortunately, it sounds like the change is being driven by Apple itself, not by Dropbox, which may mean that all alternative services face a similar limitation. If you continue to use Macs running Ventura or later, you may need to find another way to work or acquire machines with more internal storage (which a cynic might suspect as a reason for Apple to make the change).

It totally is - and its annoying that Dropbox isnt saying this as much as I expected. The API changes that are coming will impact all cloud providers at some point.


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Experienced | Level 13
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@Ru 1971 

Yeah I am aware of Google Drive limitations as a music producer, graphic designer, video editor and programmer myself so I intend to use G Drive as a backup to store all the stuff (about 14TB) I currently have on an external drive and since I don't want physical drives anymore (only keeping one forthcoming 8TB external SSD SanDisk v3 dongle to keep backing up my Macbook Pro Time Machine with it). Because the problem is Dropbox REFUSES to offer more than 2/3/4TB data plans for Personal or Pro accounts (I don't wanna migrate to this lame Business account, which I've tried before, and is a totally different product with 3-user system and all that, it's not allowing a smooth transition just the way Personal and Pro are).
So on G Drive I will store only large videos and .zips that I need there to offload my current external drive data on it. I will keep Dropbox to minimum on my internal Macbook Pro drive for files such as Logic, Ableton etc. indeed. Because I know Dropbox has no problems with file compatibility. I have also read that G Drive has file size limits, like 750GB per day, and 5TB for each file, than Dropbox doesn't seem to have (? - not sure about that) This could be an issue if I intend to upload like a whole image copy of my TimeMachine backup on G Drive (instead of Dropbox) as well, with stuff like CarbonCopyCleaner, onto it. But other than that, it doesn't seem to be too problematic.
It really is a shame that Dropbox is not offering 10-30TB plans just the same way G Drive is logically offering since 2020. Looks like Dropbox lives in the past. Who needs less than 10TB nowadays, people in India or Bangladesh with low internet and hard drive? lol
Yeah end of the off topic. But the lesson here (1) never trust Dropbox with external drives such as shown in this thread (2) Dropbox is not (yet) a satisfactory option for modern 2023 people from developed countries with professional storage space needs (10TB+) and (3) G Drive is not ideal since it's not as smooth (and fast) as Dropbox in terms of sync system, selective sync (G Drive having removed this feature that means your Mac doesn't index the offline files, but personally I don't care since it's more a storage space for me rather than a 'Dropbox' space there) and file compatibility (as you described for certain files it can conflict, it's not as smooth as Dropbox), but if used for certain file types (videos, .zip etc.) it's pretty awesome to be able to store 10TB to 30TB and ditch my mechanical 12TB hard drive instead, that we all know, will fail one day so it's better to have all your data on a Cloud (for me).
To fix all this and avoid storing data only on a Cloud I will soon purchase a Macbook Pro with 8TB internal (hopefully 12TB option coming with the M3 in mid-2024) or a Mac Pro with 2x8TB internal, and pray that Dropbox FINALLY extends the Personal and Pro plans to 10/20/30/Infinite TB option plans in 2024 or 2025 (and not the Business plan that as I explained before is not the same as Pro/Personal folder). Only then, I will stop my G drive and move everything back to Dropbox. And if Dropbox still refuses to comply, I will contact their Enterprise service, maybe I can pay their programmer to simply extend my current Pro plans to more TB (but I guess this will cost a fortune lol).
Last resort, I will build my own NAS but that's always risky and I've read it's slower to sync vs. having a Cloud like Dropbox (which is known for being super fast). And it's also an issue to only have one NAS in one physical location, in case my house burns or there's a burglary. So I guess I'd need two NAS in two separate locations at any given time. Quite a headache and not as real-time syncing as Dropbox. So again, Dropbox really has to fix their plan asap...
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