114

I am trying to sync my Firefox profile folder using Dropbox, but there are several files that Firefox changes quite frequently

  1. Folders: Cache, OfflineCache can be excluded
  2. Files: urlclassifier3.sqlite, places.sqlite - these files are big and are changed anytime

OS: Windows 7

Does anyone know how to exclude files listed in #2 from Dropbox sync?

6
  • 1
    Selective sync?
    – Alex
    Jan 9, 2012 at 9:39
  • Bookmark Backup Firefox addon copies the bookmarks file to a directory of your choice every time you close Firefox. You can point it to your Dropbox folder. Another option is to use Windows Robocopy + taskschd to do the same thing. To copy places.sqlite every 60 minutes you can use something like this: robocopy C:\Users\Someone\AppData\Roaming\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\default C:\Users\Someone\dropbox\apps\firefox\ places.sqlite /MOT:60 – You can schedule it to start with windows so you will not have to rerun every boot.
    – ramiwi
    Nov 10, 2013 at 17:13
  • You may not need to worry about big files being synced. Dropbox does not sync the whole file only the portion that changed. Look at serverfault.com/questions/52861/…. In practice, I have seen this happen on a number of big files which are changed frequently. Jan 30, 2014 at 17:46
  • 1
    Wouldn't it be better to use Firefox's built-in sync function, rather than causing potential problems by using dropbox? Also, do you really want to give all your browsing history to Condoleeza Rice?
    – stib
    Jun 6, 2014 at 6:47
  • @AshutoshJindal While the bandwidth isn't that great I get annoyed every time I edit a word document in a synched folder and the ~ file gets synched and then deleted. Apr 3, 2015 at 22:55

7 Answers 7

76

To exclude FILES, not folders, from Dropbox, there is a trick you can do:

  1. Move the file somewhere else

  2. Create a folder with the same name in place of the file

  3. Go to Dropbox selective sync options and ignore the folder, this will also delete it

  4. Move the file back in place

Example

How to ignore single file in Dropbox

Enjoy your ignored file!

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  • 210
    I would rather have a .dropboxignore file :P
    – Zequez
    Aug 13, 2014 at 13:15
  • 5
    @Zequez - There's a request for that: dropboxforum.com/hc/communities/public/questions/…
    – Asaf
    Jun 30, 2015 at 14:14
  • 1
    Great, works for me. Anyone up for automating that for several files? I tried to find where Dropbox stores that info, but no success yet. It seems Dropbox stores all its data here, but in a format that's unknown to me: %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Roaming\Dropbox\instance1 Sep 29, 2015 at 22:21
  • 8
    '.dropboxignore' file would be amazing. It would also save thier servers a huge load. We store development project solutions on dropbox. Every time I build by project DB then goes and syncs 2000 tiny files. Oct 26, 2016 at 5:27
  • 5
    This is so good I had to add gif :) Jan 20, 2017 at 10:42
59

On Linux, you can use the dropbox command line tool that comes with Dropbox:

$ dropbox filestatus
PV_2013.aux:                      up to date
PV_2013.log:                      up to date
PV_2013.pdf:                      up to date
PV_2013.tex:                      up to date    

$ dropbox exclude add *.log *.aux
Excluded: 
../ag_2013/pv_2013.aux
../ag_2013/pv_2013.log

$ dropbox filestatus
PV_2013.pdf:                      up to date
PV_2013.tex:                      up to date    
9
  • 3
    That is really cool! Too bad it doesn't work on other platforms. Just tried it with the executable on OSX but that fails...
    – Tieme
    Dec 20, 2015 at 9:43
  • 8
    As a clarification, this appears to only exclude specific individual files matching the wildcard pattern. You can't use this to e.g. prevent and files ending in .log from syncing. Feb 6, 2016 at 23:49
  • 2
    @ShimonRura What do you mean?
    – JAB
    Sep 22, 2016 at 16:47
  • 7
    @JAB I mean that when you issue the dropbox exclude command, any wildcards used in parameters are evaluated (by your shell), and the matching filenames are excluded by dropbox. Dropbox doesn't interpret the excluded file paths as patterns, even if your shell passes through a string with an asterisk in it. So excluding *.log won't prevent a file called foo.log from syncing, it will only exclude a file literally called *.log. Sep 23, 2016 at 16:33
  • 5
    @ShimonRura Oh right, shell expands before execution. I see what you mean now. That's more limiting, but makes sense. So there's no actual wildcard support within dropbox exclude itself.
    – JAB
    Sep 23, 2016 at 17:47
11

It actually is available now, currently in beta, may not work for all users.

Mac:

xattr -w com.dropbox.ignored 1 <absolute dir/filepath>

Linux

attr -s com.dropbox.ignored -V 1 <absolute dir/filepath>

Windows

Set-Content -Path <absolute path>  -Stream com.dropbox.ignored -Value 1

let's hope they add the GUI part in the near future.

source

3
  • If I don't set the same on other machines, it will turn into a Sync Conflict and download the folder from the other machine. But great, that they're finally doing it ;-)
    – TobiO
    Feb 26, 2020 at 13:56
  • On Windows 10, this used to work on directories (e.g. node_modules), but seems MS have removed this ability now. You can only write alternative stream content to files :(
    – dsl101
    Aug 24, 2020 at 15:26
  • This no longer works for folders on Windows when using PowerShell 7—common use case: node_modules. PS7 refuses to set the alternate stream content for a directory. Using PS1 still work (for now).
    – dsl101
    Aug 24, 2020 at 16:27
8

In Dropbox Settings, go to Advanced > Selective Sync. If you see an Advanced View or similar button, click it. Uncheck the cache folders and any other folders you find Firefox is changing frequently.

I did this with my Chrome installation and the above steps helped me shave off the syncing of huge caches, icons, etc.

As for any files you don't want synced but you find are inside folders that you do want synced, exit Firefox, move the file to another location, then create a symbolic or hard-link to it in the original location. When Firefox is run again, it will see the file as though it was never moved, but Dropbox will see the link and not sync the actual file.

Apparently Dropbox does sync symbolic links or hard links as though they are actual files.

But if you know for sure what files in a folder you want synced (that is, their names are fixed, not changing or random), you can do a reverse-syncing hack:

  • In Selective Sync feature, exclude the entire folder containing both the files you don't want synced and those you do want synced.
  • Create a new folder next to the excluded folder. This folder will be synced by Dropbox. You may name it suitably to indicate that it is a duplicate of the excluded folder.
  • In the new folder, create hard links (or symbolic links) to the files in the original excluded folder that you do want to be synced.

Dropbox will sync these files as though they are residing in this new folder, eventhough they are actually in the original one. In addition, Dropbox will not sync files that you did not create links to.

3
  • Then I can only think of a reverse-hack. Exclude that entire folder, but create a duplicate folder, then hard-link (or symlink) all the files you do want to be synced in that folder. So that essentially, all the files you did not link to will not be synced because the original folder is now excluded. Of course this assumes the file names are fixed, not random.
    – ADTC
    Nov 10, 2013 at 19:28
  • Well, I can see how this is going to work for a small set of files, but I'm sure Firefox will create files during usage that could be needed. Somebody needs to test this, I guess.
    – slhck
    Nov 10, 2013 at 19:39
  • Yes, it will only work seamlessly with a known set of files.
    – ADTC
    Nov 11, 2013 at 3:28
6

Since Dropbox staff made it clear that it will NOT implement a selective file/folder sync, the user will have to implement this manually. Instead of using symbolic link, you can use a program like FreeFileSync and customize exactly which files you want synced and to which folder[x].

You can either use realtimesync or windows task scheduler to have granular control over how often the files are synced.

Or if you want compression/encryption of your files, then you can use cryptsync.


I do understand that for those that have large files elsewhere on their system and do not want to duplicate them into a separate folder (and thus use symbolic links) this is not an ideal situation. If there was a way to schedule how often to apply the syslink, maybe that would be a compromise. For example, setup a windows task to add symlink, wait xx minutes for dropbox sync to complete, then another task to delete/undo the symlink to prevent unwanted auto-syncing by dropbox.


Here is a photo showing dropbox staff confirming after >3 years of multiple request, they will not be adding the feature:

dropbox says no selective file syncing for you

^I don't know how to make the image a thumbnail or smaller so that users can click on it and make it larger in a separate lightbox, sorry.

2

You cant exclude files from dropbox sync , but you can delete them or change those files location.

Using DropBox for Firefox sync may result in conflict of profile, better use FireFox built in Sync tab under option or settings

2
  • Thanks. But the firefox built in sync can't handle the extensions part.
    – Jun Jing Zhang
    Jan 9, 2012 at 12:46
  • 1
    just see the updated firefox it has option to syn extension too.. voteup or accept if it helps you Jan 9, 2012 at 13:35
2

[NOTE: This NO LONGER WORKS WELL AND IS DISCOURAGED by DropBox and by me based on my own personal experiences with symlinks causing high CPU usage of the Dropbox app. I'm leaving the answer here for posterity and a warning to others. No need to downvote (ahem)]

I'm not sure what OS you're using or how Firefox in particular would react to this but whenever I need to exclude files from Dropbox (which cannot simply be deleted or moved for whatever reason), I simply move the file outside of the Dropbox folder and then create a symlink in the old location pointing to the new one.

Dropbox sync the link as a symbolic link but knows/cares nothing about the underlying content.

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    On both Linux and Windows, symlinked folders or files are synchronized just like regular files (i.e. the symlink's target is copied, not the symlink itself), so this workaround doesn't seem to work any more. Tested with Dropbox 2.0.22 on W7 and 2.0.26 on Linux.
    – Lebenita
    Sep 24, 2013 at 9:05