Can Dropbox sync symlinks?
Symbolic links (symlinks) are a type of file that act as a reference, or shortcut, to another file or directory in a file system. When you create a symlink, it points to the location of the target file or directory.
What is a symlink?
A symlink acts as a bridge between the source and destination, providing access to the target file or directory while keeping the original file structure intact.
Symlinks look just like normal files or directories, and you interact with them in the same way as a normal file or directory.
Why do people use symlinks?
Symlinks can be used to link files or directories across different drives, making it easier to access files in different locations. They can also be used to link multiple versions of the same file, providing access to different versions without having to store multiple copies of the file.
View your operating system below to see if Dropbox allows syncing symlinks.
Symlinks on macOS and Linux
On computers running macOS or Linux, the path of the file or folder the symlink points to can be synced to Dropbox.
Note: If you move the original file or folder to a different location within your Dropbox account, the symlink will still point to the original location and may no longer work as intended. Additionally, if you delete the original file or folder, the symlink will no longer work at all.
Junctions and symlinks on Windows
On computers running Windows, there are two types of reference links possible:
- Junctions (which only point to folders)
- Symbolic links that require special permissions to create
The Dropbox desktop app doesn’t support syncing either of these.
You’ll see a red-X icon on any such junction point or symlink, indicating the item isn’t syncing.
FAQs about symlinks in Dropbox
Can Dropbox sync .lnk files?
Files of type .lnk are Windows shortcut files. These are just pointers in Windows that point to your original files. Dropbox can't follow these links, so you'll need to place the original files into your Dropbox folder in order to sync them.
Do aliases, shortcuts, and symlinks all work on Dropbox?
There are different types of reference links with somewhat different functions. Reference links can also be called junctions, or networked folders, depending on your operating system and how it references a file or directory.
Aliases (Mac) and shortcuts (Windows) are like labels that point to a file. Symlinks are like clones of the file that, in most cases, behave as if they are the original. For this reason, aliases and shortcuts shared on Dropbox may not open on devices with unmatched paths.
Why does my folder say “Symlink Backup Copy”?
Any items that were synced to your Dropbox account via a symlink that linked outside of your Dropbox folder prior to mid-2019 can be found in a copy of the folder appended with [Folder name] (Symlink Backup Copy).
Any changes made to items in the original location the symlink referenced will no longer sync to your Dropbox account. If you still want to sync the original item, we recommend adding that item to your Dropbox account instead of the symlink.
By default, this folder will be unchecked in your selective sync preferences. Learn more about selective sync.
Why do I have a folder named “Shared Symlink Backups”?
Any items that were synced to your Dropbox account via a symlink that was within a shared folder and that linked outside of a shared Dropbox folder prior to mid-2019 can be found in a new folder named “Shared Symlink Backups”. Any changes made to items in the original location the symlink referenced will no longer sync to your Dropbox account.
Users with access to the shared folder may no longer have access to the content referenced by these symlinks—they will only be able to see the symlink file. If you would like these users to have access to both the symlink and the items it references, you’ll need to move the referenced item inside the shared folder.
updated by: sebastian_ 349 days ago16098195
updated by: dankohn 1315 days ago722681
updated by: neilcothran 1355 days ago14124100