Use a Symbolic Link to Back Files up to Dropbox

Dropbox symbolic link(If you want to skip my story there is a quick Step-by-Step guide below. It’s a pretty good story though.)

Who out there uses Dropbox? This nifty little cloud storage site allows you to, well, store your files in the cloud! There are other companies that do similar things including Google (their version is called Google Drive) but Dropbox works great for my clients and me. I can create a folder and give someone else access to it that way we can easily share large files without constantly having to email back and forth.

Last week I was leaving on vacation and did not want to bring my computer, however wanted access to all my business files in case of a client emergency. I thought to myself “Self, wouldn’t it be cool to store my files in the cloud?” and then answered with “Yes!”

Ok, so this is nothing new. Cloud storage has been around a while but my issue with it was that it meant keeping my files in the cloud and not storing them on my local hard drive. So what happens when my Internet router spontaneously combusts and I don’t have access to my files? Nothing good for sure. The only other way to do this would be to copy my files I want backed up periodically and then paste them in Dropbox. Not very efficient.

Then I learned about Symbolic Links. These neat links are a separate file that exists independently of its parent file but is exactly the same. By creating and placing a Symbolic Link of my files in my Dropbox account, I can edit files on my computer and they will automatically back up to Dropbox! Exactly what I was looking for.

Unfortunately, Dropbox doesn’t help you with this and neither did my operating system. I had to scrape the Internet for information on how I could make this easier on myself without screwing up my computer. Ok, so I didn’t really scrape the Internet, I just performed a Google search for Symbolic Link Creator for Mac and came up with this site:

http://seiryu.home.comcast.net/~seiryu/symboliclinker.html

It looks sketchy but MacWorld gave it a great rating so I went for it. Follow the directions and you’ll do just fine. Once this thing’s files are installed in your library folder you can now just right click on a file and scroll down to ‘Make Symbolic Link.” Then Voila! You have done it! Drag the symbolic link you have just created into Dropbox and you have just backed a file. Now whenever you save something in the folder on your computer, it updates to Dropbox.

Pretty neat huh?

Here is a Step-by-Step guide if you don’t care to read my whole post.

  1. Decide you want to do great things! (Or at least back a file up to the cloud while still having the local file on your computer.)
  2. Make sure you are using a mac and then go to http://seiryu.home.comcast.net/~seiryu/symboliclinker.html
  3. Follow Instructions
  4. Right click on precious File and then click ‘Make Symbolic Link.’
  5. Drag Symbolic Link into Dropbox or other cloud storage program.
  6. Pat yourself on the back for being awesome.

Thanks for reading this post. I thought it was such a neat thing I had to share it. A great grassroots way to protect your important files. Its too bad Dropbox or the other programs don’t just have this option build into their program but oh well. Good luck!