How To Split Dropbox Folder Across Multiple Drives

How To Split Dropbox Folder Across Multiple Drives

I recently upgraded my desktop’s hard drive to one of the amazing Crucial M500 SSD drives for the performance gains it brings but due to my limited budget, the size I bought wasn’t much bigger than the space I needed. A huge part of my storage needs are my Dropbox folder (I have a 185GB Dropbox due to all the referrals bonuses) but I don’t need all of the contents of my Dropbox to have SSD read speeds so that data is wasted on there.

Now admittedly Dropbox does have Selective Sync – the option to exclude some of your Dropbox folders on a given machine – but this still didn’t really solve my problem.

I started thinking about ways of being able to trick Dropbox in to thinking some folders on my secondary were actually sub folder of my Dropbox folder. As an IIS and Web Server geek, my first thought was Virtual Directories – a bit more research led me to the beefed up OS version: Junction Points.

What Are Junction Points?

Junction Points allow you to ‘mount’ a folder from one location to a point within another, creating a completely transparent link. Windows already uses junction points for a number of internal redirects (for example you may have noticed that c:usersusernamedocuments can also be accessed via c:usersusernameMy Documents).

To give a better example, my Dropbox has a folder called ‘Music’ in it – this is not a folder I need a great deal of performance on and can be relegated to my secondary standard (and slower) hard drive.

I exit Dropbox, link the empty folder C:usersbob.mckaydropboxmusic to the folder on my secondary drive D:DropBoxOverFlowmusic restart Dropbox, then I simply sit back and watch the magic as the files are indexed as though they are siting the main Dropbox folder.

Gimme – How Do I Do It?

First off be warned – Junction Points are a low-level operating system function and can cause problems if used incorrectly – use at your own risk!

The Steps

1) Stop Dropbox

2) Move the contents of the folder you wish to store elsewhere to the location you want it (leaving the parent folder in place, e.g. leave the ‘Music’ folder in Dropbox but move all the folders within it).  Note: I’m assuming here your are moving data that is in your Dropbox folder to a second location.  You could just as easily be including a folder that is already in a different location within Dropbox for the first time.

3) Download the excellent free utility Junction Link Magic by Rekenwonder Software, you can download it directly from here.

4) Install and Run the Utility (you’l be asked if you want to scan for existing junction points – doesn’t matter either way but you have to wait for it to finish if you says yes)

Creating A Junction Point5) Click the Create… button

6) In the window that appears, in the left-hand pane select the folder in your Dropbox that you want to host/store elsewhere.

7) In the right-hand pane, select the folder on the alternative drive or location that you wish to store that Dropbox data in

8) Click Create and confirm the warning message

9) Start Dropbox

At this stage, Dropbox may well have a bit of a tantrum depending on how many files you’ve relocated as it re-indexes them.  When I did this recently for a large number of folders, Dropbox told me it was in the process of uploading some 32,000 files and it was going to take several weeks to complete – once the indexing processed finished however, this plummeted and shrank to zero within an hour or so, barely uploading any data.

Bob McKay

About Bob McKay

Bob McKay works at Perfect Image, is a father, programmer and a self confessed techie-geek type.

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13 comments on «How To Split Dropbox Folder Across Multiple Drives»

  1. John Hamilton says:

    I installed Junction Link Magic 2.0.3.0 and things went as expected and appeared to be working as I had hoped.
    I am hoping you can help me understand why it appears limited though.

    What isn\’t working is Dropbox appears not to upload any files copied to the junction destination up to the dropbox servers (and thus not to any other linked computers).
    If I exit dropbox and restart it, all the files in the junction destination *do* upload and share as I hoped they would.
    Have you any theory why this behavior is happening?

    The background for my situation is: I would like to take advantage of Dropbox\’s new generous storage capability for paid accounts (1 Tb), but some linked computers have small SSD drives where dropbox is installed; they do however have access to secondary — much larger — drives that could be used for such storage.

    Thanks for your time and attention!

  2. Bob McKay says:

    Hi John,

    Thanks for getting in touch! I took the liberty of adding your message as a comment in case it might help others.

    Apologies if I’m misunderstanding the setup but from your post it seems you found a solution to your problem by restarting Dropbox to kick start the upload of the files?

    Thanks

    Bob

  3. John Erik Setsaas says:

    Hi,

    and thanks for the description Bob. Setup works fine, but it seems that the dropbox server does NOT follow junctions when checking for changed files (only when starting)..This is also described here. http://www.dropbox.com/en/help/145

    So as John Hamilton describes, the Dropbox service has to be restarted.

    Do you know of any way around this, i.e. convince Dropbox to follow junctions?
    Or could the dropbox restart be scripted? (TO avoid having to do this manually)

    Thx.

    Best regards
    John Erik

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hi John,

      I’m sure you could schedule Dropbox to terminate and re-run using Windows Task Scheduler but from my tests, the easiest way to force Dropbox to sync the folders linked via Junction Points is to simple pause and then resume syncing. I must admit I didn’t notice this lack of monitoring as for me, the files I keep in my ‘DropboxOverFlow’ folder are large and infrequently changed (software, music, etc).

      Cheers

      Bob

  4. A says:

    Bob,

    Thanks for the info. Based on your explanation everything works well, but I have a little twist to it and it isnt going as intended. I am trying to create a link via Junction Points to an external removable hard drive. Everything works till I eject the external hard drive from the computer and then press sync. Drop box cant find the file anymore when the indexing occurs causing the files to be deleted from the dropbox website.

    Is there any solution to have a link via Junction Points to an external removable hard drive?

    Thanks,
    A

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hi A,

      I’m afraid I don’t there is going to be a way to do the Dropbox ‘split’ and not have it cause issues if a portion of the storage is removed. The ‘trick’ in this post is really intended just to split storage, not to make it removable. The only way I can think to do what you want to achieve is to manually run a ‘Robocopy’ batch file to synchronize a portion (or all) of your Dropbox folder to the removable drive before you pull it.

      Bob

  5. Roman says:

    Sounds like a good idea, I wonder if it would work with Google Drive. What would happen if my D drive is an external USB drive and it tries to sync when the USB drive is unplugged?

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hi Roman,

      I wouldn’t recommend trying it with removable storage device as Dropbox will mostly likely see it as being deleted and remove it from your Dropbox too. I’ll experiment and post.

  6. Lindsay says:

    Hi Bob,

    Know of anything comparable to Junction Link Magic for Mac (OSx 10.10.3)?

    Thanks
    Lindsay

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hi Lindsay,

      I’m not a Mac user so don’t take this as gospel but I think what you are after for a mac is something to manage ‘Symbolic Links’. A quick search pulled up these:

      http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/41493/symlinker
      http://www.macupdate.com/app/mac/10433/symboliclinker

      But again I must advise caution as its really not my area of expertise!

      Good luck

      Bob

    2. Bob McKay says:

      And let me know how you get on! 🙂

  7. James says:

    Hi Bob,

    Thanks for the guide! Apologies if I’ve misunderstood how this works, but it looks like the instructions are suggesting to move the files from the Dropbox location on the computer to another drive, and then make the symbolic link. The challenge is that I’m looking to do things the other way around – I have a new computer with a small SSD + a larger hard drive, and I want to selective sync to the SSD (which I can do with existing Dropbox functionality easily) and then create symbolic links to store the non-frequently accessed files on the hard drive.

    Given the contents of my Dropbox folder won’t fit in its entirety on my hard drive, is there a more direct way of doing this than syncing some of the Dropbox files onto the new computer, moving them off the SSD and creating the symbolic link, downloading more files with the freed up space, etc.

    Sorry if I’m missing something here, and appreciate your guidance.

    Cheers,

    James

    1. Bob McKay says:

      Hi James,

      Without know which way around you have your designated Dropbox location its hard to say. You can however set a custom Dropbox location in Dropbox (whether that is your C: drive, D:drive, etc. and whether its the SSD or standard) and then use symbolic links for the odd folders (generally the bulky ones) that you want on the ‘other’ drive.

      Hope this helps

      Bob

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