Dropbox follows symbolic links. Apparently this is useful. But I have a folder with very large data files I do not wish to back up online. I have physical backups for it. However, I have various symbolic links referring to files on that folder. I have tried the following, and neither work:

  • Put my folders on Dropbox and use symbolic links on my computer.
  • Put symbolic links on Dropbox

In both cases, Dropbox backs up the files and in both cases, using selective sync deletes the files the symbolic links refers to, even though they are NOT on my Dropbox folder. So, is there a way to put my folders in Dropbox but prevent Dropbox from backing up symbolic links to large files? I cannot seem to use selective sync without deleting the files in my computer.

Thanks for the help!


Dropbox actually does not follow symbolic links.

Well, it does, but not when the file is edited. So if you add a symlink, the original file will be backed up to your other computers. But if you edit that file on another computer, the symlink will be broken. That came as quite a shock when it happened to me.

Dropbox only works the way you (as a Linux user) expect when the original file is in Dropbox, and the symlink is elsewhere. So a solution for you would be to copy all your small files into your dropbox folder, then link them from their original locations in your filesystem. You could do that with a (long) one-line find command.

See my answer here : Does dropbox sync hardlinks?

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I've had the same issue, and the best solution I've found is to use Link-type desktop files. For example, to link to the path


I use this desktop file:

[Desktop Entry]
Name=Link to media drive Audiobooks

and call it e.g. media-drive-audiobooks.desktop. Now I can copy this wherever I like and jump to the audiobooks folder from there. It works the same as the examples.desktop file, and functions for both files and folders.

Note that the URL field must be a proper file:// URL, so only absolute paths are possible. Some file managers will help you with generating these files.

This also solves the problem of internal links in the Dropbox folder, which can cause syncing conflicts or data loss.


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