As of today, I have a cloud storage account with Amazon Drive, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, iCloud Drive, and Dropbox. I mainly use Dropbox, but I also use Amazon Drive on my Kindle Fire, OneDrive on Windows 10, and Google Drive for my photos and videos. I’ve always had one problem: I want to sync my folders with these services, but I don’t like the fact that I have to copy or move all files to their special container folders.
Instead, I wanted to be able to store my folders in My Documents or elsewhere, and still sync them up with the cloud. I found out that the best way to do this is using symbolic links on Windows. A symbolic link is similar to creating a shortcut to a folder, but it is more permanent and acts like a separate folder, although it is not.
In this article, I’ll walk you through how to create symbolic links so that you can sync any folder on your computer with the cloud service without moving it. Please note that Google has a separate program called Backup & Sync which allows you to select any folder (s) on your computer to back up to Google Drive, which I will explain below.
Sync folders with Dropbox and OneDrive
Before I move on to the steps for OneDrive, I would like to mention that they now have an autosave option that allows you to move the contents of your Desktop, My Documents, and Pictures folders to OneDrive without any action on your part. Basically, they point local folders to OneDrive folders to keep things running smoothly.
However, this is only for these three folders. If you have a folder saved elsewhere, you will need to either move it to the OneDrive folder or create a symbolic link. To do this for Dropbox or OneDrive, I’ve created an example that walks you through the process. As you can see below, my OneDrive folder is on the left and a folder called OneDrive Test is inside C: Test.
So I want to sync my test OneDrive folder with my OneDrive account folder without moving it. To do this, you need to open an elevated command prompt and enter the following command:
mklink / J “C: Users Aseem OneDrive Personal” “C: Test OneDrive Test”
So let me explain what we are doing here. We create a symbolic link (symbolic link) using the mklink command. It takes two parameters, the first is the location of the symbolic link you want to create and the second is the source directory. As you can see, I don’t need to create a personal folder in the OneDrive folder, the mklink command will do it for me. Alternatively, you can use any name for the folder.
So I tell Windows to create a symlink folder in the OneDrive folder called Personal, which actually just points to the C: Test OneDrive Test folder. After creating the link, you will see the personal folder inside the OneDrive folder:
If you open this folder, the path appears as if it is stored in OneDrive Personal, although it is actually stored in the Test folder. So now you can add files to a folder from anywhere, and both will have the same content, since it is actually one folder, not two. That’s all!
OneDrive and Dropbox support symlink folders and sync everything in the cloud as shown below:
Sync folders to Google Drive
For Google Drive, start by downloading the above mentioned backup and sync software. After starting the installation, you will see the following screen for step 2:
By default it will select Desktop, Documents and Pictures, but you can click Select Folder and choose any folder you want. You can also click the Edit link to back up only your photos and videos, or add file extensions that you don’t want to sync.
In step 3, you choose which folders you want to sync with your local PC. I usually just uncheck the “Sync my drive with this computer” checkbox as I only use it as a backup for my PC.
That’s all! Now you can sync any folder on your computer with the cloud service. Either you will need to create a symbolic link, or there may be a function with which you can select the folders you want to sync. If you have questions or concerns, please leave a comment here and I’ll try to help. Enjoy!