I have a folder on my Debian server at /mnt/Pool/Photos which I want to exactly sync with a folder in Dropbox at /Photos. This allows me to have my photos locally stored for easy access, but also backed up to the cloud. I don't want anything else from my Dropbox on the computer (ie selectively sync /Photos only)

The way I tried to do this was installing Dropbox on Debian, excluding everything from sync, making a symlink to /mnt/Pool/Photos in the /Dropbox folder and then selectively including /Photos to sync, however Dropbox now doesn't support symlinks. Dropbox ended up creating a second folder Photos (Debian conflicted with at...) and then started redownloading the whole folder instead of recognising it was already there.

How can I go about setting what I want up (a sync of just one folder with Dropbox that already exists)?

  • If you are willing to do without symlinks, better modify the post.
    – harrymc
    Nov 20 '19 at 14:08
  • Hmm, don't think it says anywhere I have to use symlinks.
    – Sam
    Nov 21 '19 at 10:27
  • Have you tried the Dropbox desktop app? It has more capabilities for syncing folders.
    – harrymc
    Nov 21 '19 at 10:48

You can use bind mounts.

This answer assumes that you have permissions to edit and reload /etc/fstab.

Note: Please take a backup of important data in a separate location before trying this.

Step 1: Stop Dropbox.

Step 2: Move existing contents of [Dropbox]/Photos to /mnt/Pool/Photos

Step 3: Add this to your /etc/fstab file:

/mnt/Pool/Photos   [Dropbox]/Photos   none   bind   0 0

(Replace [Dropbox] with your Dropbox sync root path.)

Step 4: Reboot system or sudo mount -a to reload all fstab entries.

Step 5: Start Dropbox.

Tested on Dropbox v85.4.155 (on Arch Linux).


How can I go about setting what I want up?

You can't, at least not using dropbox:

As of mid-2019, Dropbox no longer follows items outside of your Dropbox account that are linked to by a symlink.

Source How to use symlinks with Dropbox | Dropbox Help

The feature was removed because it was broken:

Issues occur with syncing when the files are located elsewhere and the symlink is within the Dropbox folder instead. This can cause performance issues and high CPU usage when trying to sync the files.

In some cases, the desktop app may even just sync the symlink file itself and not the referenced file.

This will mean the actual file won’t be synced to your Dropbox account so you wont be able to access the actual file via the web or other devices your account syncs to.

Source Solved: Re: Best practices for using symlinks (symbolic li... - Dropbox Community - 349296

  • I don't necessarily have to use sym-links. Are there any other solutions?
    – Sam
    Nov 18 '19 at 6:57
  • @Sam. I don't use dropbox so no idea ...
    – DavidPostill
    Nov 20 '19 at 22:29

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