Dropbox on a dual boot Ubuntu/Windows machine

Like many people I’m a huge fan of Dropbox, a cloud file storage and sharing application. One aspect of it, that has been a continual annoyance on my dual boot machine, is that I’ll have everything synced on my Linux machine and yet when I reboot, it uploads/downloads everything again when I switch to Windows, despite having a local copy of the same data. Of course this happens as I switch from Windows to Ubuntu too.

I found the solution on the Dropbox wiki.

To start with I made sure that both my Windows and Ubuntu installations were synced and up-to-date. All following changes were made while Linux was running.

  1. Stop Dropbox running.

    pkill dropbox

  2. Delete the existing Dropbox folder from the Linux machine.

    rm -rf /home/{username}/Dropbox/

  3. Create a symbolic link to the Windows Dropbox folder (NB: my Windows NTFS drive is automatically mounted as /media/Windows by fstab).

    ln -s /media/Windows/User/{username}/Dropbox /home/{username}/Dropbox

  4. Restart Dropbox or reboot and you’re done. One copy of your Dropbox folder which only ever needs syncing once, no matter which OS is booted at the time.
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4 thoughts on “Dropbox on a dual boot Ubuntu/Windows machine

  1. So you had 2 copies of your Dropbox files before? I love the fact that you can sync folders by adding links in the Dropbox folder. I have it backing up various stuff that way. It’s a great tool that just does what you need it to, without much messing about. I just need to get a few more GB of space to have some spare.

    • Exactly. I had one copy on the Windows partition and one on the Linux partition. I currently have 3Gb which is plenty for my needs: 2Gb for backing up my important files and 1Gb for work in progress (usually collaborative recording projects).

  2. Does this really work? I always thought that Linux could not write to an NTFS partition. So how does Dropbox running on Linux write to a Windows partition. Is your Windows OS running on FAT32 file system?

    • Yes, works fine. Linux has been able to read and write to ntfs for quite a while. I’ve been doing this on Ubuntu for a couple of years and I can’t imagine the other distros will be radically different.

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