I've got a puzzling dilemma that I've been trying to solve for weeks. I want to backup about 500 GBs from an external hard drive to my Dropbox Pro account.

  • My computer's hard drive is nowhere near as large as my EHD, so I can't just move the file to the Dropbox folder.

  • I've tried using MacDropAny by Zibity to create a symbolic link, but when my EHD is no longer connected, Dropbox seems to assume these files have been deleted, and propagates the deletion to the cloud.

  • I've also tried using GoodSync to do a one-way sync to the cloud, but upload speeds seem to be so slow that this is turning out to be impractical. (Dropbox's own streaming upload seems to be orders of magnitude faster.)

  • Finally, I've considered moving my Dropbox folder to the EHD, but this seems very inconvenient for any times when I don't happen to have my EHD plugged in.

I've been trying to find other options, and I just haven't found anything that would seem to suit my needs. Can anyone suggest a solution that will allow me to upload this folder in a convenient and relatively speedy manor? Thanks!

  • Um, so after you've uploaded everything, the resulting dropbox is too big for a local hard drive, right? That means you can only access your files via web (because you're external hard drive isn't available all the time and your local storage is too small). Is that what you want? No local dropbox folder? – nixda Apr 26 '15 at 9:01
  • No, I just selective sync whatever my current project folder happens to be. – Daniel Miller Apr 26 '15 at 9:10
  • Um... What kind of symbolic link did the app create? I tried ln -s on OS X but Dropbox doesn't seem to sync. Or is that because your external hard drive has the same file format as your OS X drive? (I have a NTFS+ external hard drive) – xji May 13 '15 at 11:18

You can try to do this:

  • reattach the drive and put the symbolic link again
  • let it sync until all of the content is in dropbox
  • remove the drive
  • let Dropbox erase the folder content
  • remove the symbolic link
  • on the web, click on the button to show deleted content
  • mark the folder for retrieval
  • in your Dropbox client, in selective sync mark the folder so that it does not sync with your Mac

That should do what you want. And remember, you can also use the selective sync for some sub folders, so that you can still have some of the content in your Mac and without the drive.

  • Did it work? It worked for my former supervisor 😉 – juandesant Apr 27 '15 at 21:09
  • Thanks for the suggestion! I currently uploading with the symbolic link as you suggested, but with my upload speeds, this will take days. lol. I'll let you know how it turns out. – Daniel Miller Apr 27 '15 at 21:24
  • 4
    Wouldn't it be easier to simply mark specific folders to not be synchronized after the upload to the Dropbox is complete and then removing the symbolic link. This way Dropbox would never even consider those file to be scheduled for deletion. – SilverWarior Apr 29 '15 at 17:06
  • @SilverWarior actually, you are quite right 😃 – juandesant Apr 29 '15 at 20:26

Remember, Dropbox is sync service not a backup service. If you want, you can manually upload the contents on the external hard drive (EHD) to a folder (archive) that you have unchecked in selective sync. Anything you send to that folder will then not sync with the local computer. This is essentially what I do for my Dropbox at work. My personal PC has a full sync, while my work Dropbox only has work related folders available.


Dropbox works with symbolic links, I have verified it with various files which works flawlessly. I am currently uploading 500GB usb drive via symbolic links to my local dropbox folder via the Client app on my mac. I noticed that my USB drive didn't allow me to create new folders or symbolic link until I took ownership of it (it´s formatted with Mac OS Journled) and it´s enclosed items.

As Im currently syncing roughly 450GB of photos, I´ll let you know whether there is any issues during my progress.

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