Updated in 2019 after testing on Windows 10
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:\users\username\documents can also be accessed via c:\users\username\My 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:\users\bob.mckay\dropbox\music to the folder on my secondary drive D:\DropBoxOverFlow\music 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!
1) Stop Dropbox by exiting the application (right click on the System Tray icon and select exit)
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, you can download it directly from here. because unfortunately it appears the original website where it was available is no more and just has a squatter there: (http://www.rekenwonder.com/linkmagic.htm).
Update for Windows 10: You’ll need to run the program as administrator so press the Windows key on your keyboard, type junction and then right-click on the Junction Link Magic icon and select menu icon and select Run as Administrator.
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)
6) In the window that appears, in the left-hand pane select the folder in your Dropbox that you want to host/store elsewhere.
Update for Windows 10: when selecting my Dropbox source folder in the left pane, I couldn’t browse to Dropbox via C:\Users I instead had to browse to it via the legacy c:\Documents and Settings\ folder instead
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.