Easily Synchronize All Your Program’s Settings With Dropboxifier [Windows]

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synchronize dropboxAnyone who’s ever used such a service at least once knows how much convenience something like Dropbox can add to a user’s life. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it works practically everywhere on every device. Being able to synchronize your documents, music, photos, and more is a great use of Dropbox, but what would be even better is if we could synchronize our programs’ settings and associated data via Dropbox as well.

However, we can’t simply just drag and drop the folder with such data from its intended location to our Dropbox folder, so what can we do instead to synchronize Dropbox?  One solution is to use Dropboxifier.

About Dropboxifier

Dropboxifier is a tiny program that uses an idea that is more commonly known in the Unix and Linux world than in the Windows world – symbolic links. Symbolic links are similar to shortcuts, but they act like real files (or folders). This key difference is important because while Dropbox doesn’t follow the path of conventional shortcuts, it will be able to follow the path of symbolic links as it cannot tell the difference between real folders and symbolic links.

Dropbox will go into those folders and see the stuff you want it to synchronize, and it’ll do its job. The real location of that data is still, however, where your program’s files are. Genius, isn’t it?

Download & Installation

The program can be downloaded from this site here. It doesn’t require any installation process, so you’ll be ready to go by simply opening the program. Since all it does is set up symbolic links through a graphical interface that is easier to understand than the command line, the “no installation necessary” approach makes sense.

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Setting It Up

synchronize dropbox

Dropboxifier’s interface is rather simple, and there’s really only three text fields you need to worry about.

sync dropbox

At the very top you’ll see a “Dropbox folder” location field where you can browse to your Dropbox folder (and hit Yes to the prompt that appears so Dropboxifier can keep track of what symbolic links it creates). The program will then use that path to create the symbolic links.

Over on the left, you’ll see a “Name” text field where you can give the link a name while will be the Dropbox folder’s name, and so it’s more easily identifiable within Dropboxifier and a “Source” input field where you can browse to the folder that contains the data you’d like to sync.

synchronize dropbox

Once you’ve done all that, hit Dropboxify and it’ll instantly setup the symbolic link. To receive the synchronized data on another computer, simply repeat the process. Remember to keep the source path the same, so don’t use the Dropbox folder on the other computer as your source.

Removing a Link

To remove a Dropboxified folder, simply choose it from the list and hit “Undropboxify Selected” and it’ll break the symbolic link between the two folders. You can also choose to leave the “Delete Dropboxed Folder” so the folder in your Dropbox that corresponded to the symbolic link is also removed.

Conclusion

Dropboxifier adds even more convenience to your synchronization experience with a simple trick that is easily enabled through its interface. Despite its name, the program will work with any synchronization service and not just Dropbox, so users of SkyDrive, Google Drive, Ubuntu One, and more can all enjoy what this little program has to bring. It is technically still in beta according to its developers, but it has worked flawlessly for my own use.

What’s your favorite Dropbox (or other service) trick? Do you use Dropbox for anything besides synchronization of documents and settings? Let us know in the comments!

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37 Comments - Write a Comment

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Colin

I don’t use this program yet, but I’m wondering if it can make symbolic links to my music files on my portable usb drive? That would be useful. Let’s just try that :-)

Danny Stieben

It should work, IMO, as long as you have it plugged in all the time. Otherwise Dropbox might freak out that there isn’t anything on the other side of the symbolic link and just delete the folder contents everywhere else.

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Ryan Dube

Danny – great article! I’m thinking of using it to sync programs between 3 pc’s in my house, but I’m wondering if you know whether it’s just saving just application data or actually settings as well? Or is it just a way to group together multiple files (symbolic links) for each app? Curious what you meant in the intro when you wrote that it saves settings…

Ravi Meena

I am too confused about this

Danny Stieben

Thank you! It depends on the application if the settings will be synchronized as well. I suppose I wasn’t very clear that Dropboxifier could potentially do so. Pretty much, any application which can save its settings within an .ini file will work just fine. Those that like to use the registry won’t. I’m sure there’s a way to do it, but I don’t like dabbling around in Windows’ registry because 99% of the time I’ll break something. ;)

Programs like Firefox should work really well with this (in case you choose not to use its built in sync tool). All your Firefox data is stored in a profile folder, which is something you can easily symbolically link to with Dropboxifier.

Ryan Dube

Cool, yes that makes sense. Thanks for the explanation Danny.

GodSponge

I just symlink most of the folders in %appdata% and that gets most of my settings. For game saves I find the folders in my documents or wherever they are and symlink them with Link Shell Extension.

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Shahid Anjum

i use dropbox.will try this…

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Prashant Mohta

does it work for all programs especially, since some store their settings in reg. ?

Danny Stieben

I know for a fact that settings can be synchronized when the program can save them in an .ini file or similar. I bet you could synchronize registry values somehow as well, but it’s a lot harder and something I personally wouldn’t touch.

Danny Stieben

Sorry to everyone for the somewhat misleading article title…synchronizing settings can easily be done if the program in question stores its settings in a file. Even if it doesn’t, Dropboxifier can still help synchronize other application data. Firefox’s profile folder is a good example.

Fik-of-Borg

I wonder if one can dropboxify the entire folder where the registry files reside (C:\WINDOWS\system32\config). I think it would sync the local machine, os, etc., configuration, which would not work since machines would be different hardware, IP, settings, etc,
Maybe if one dropboxify only the user config? I believe that registry file is in C:\Documents and Settings\username\NTUSER.DAT in Windows XP, C:\Users\username\NTUSER.DAT.
Worth testing…

Danny Stieben

Just please be careful and have backups in hand! Just thinking about messing with Windows’ registry gives me shudders…

Fik-of-Borg

Where is the fun in being careful?
He he just kidding, I keep a week of automated daily registry backups (I use ERUNT and a batch file)

Danny Stieben

Good to know! My backups usually come from CCleaner whenever I delete the bad registry entries. CCleaner’s been the only program I’ve ever trusted to touch the registry.

Prashant Mohta

to tell the truth using it can be dangerous i mean it could mess up your cellphone also use os combination and your screwed

Danny Stieben

Provided that the idea actually work, it wouldn’t cause any problems. Cellphones can’t really do anything with those registry files (plus you’d just leave them in Dropbox and not place symbolic links on there either), and the registry entries being synchronized would only be for the application, and not system.

All that, again, is when the idea actually works, where I still have doubts.

Prashant Mohta

it would tho use up space

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Ben

This app sounds cool. I’ll try it out.

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gattolino

Thanks :D very helpful program!

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venkatp16

haa. this is option i’m looking at. Thnx much..

Dropbox should have develop another option to upload any folder just by right click(which we normally see in SVN kind of thing). I browsed internet if there is any kind of this tool

venkatp16

Danny.. if you come across any tool which provides this option for Dropbox please post it… Appreciate this tool…it is working as required for me.. :)

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Pietro Blu

Really interesting little app, thanks for the article.
Playing with it surely will suggest many uses.
For the people thinking about a solution to have a fully synchronized installation of apps like Firefox, I suggest to install it directly in a Dropbox folder.

Danny Stieben

In that scenario, using Firefox Portable Edition would probably work out a little better than regular ol’ Firefox.

Pietro Blu

Yes, of course, I meant FF portable…

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Fik-of-Borg

“Requires .NET 4.0 and Vista or higher.”

Are we XP users screwed just because we like a decade-old OS? (a decade? wow!). Not after being shown this Symbolic links concept!
I just found a shell extension (http://schinagl.priv.at/nt/hardlinkshellext/hardlinkshellext.html ) anda a command line utility (http://schinagl.priv.at/nt/ln/ln.html) that do just that.
And here is the command for linux: http://www.computerhope.com/unix/uln.htm.

Now I only need to find a similar functionality for android.

Danny Stieben

Thanks for this tip! I didn’t see that clause…

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Sameer N

Dropbox is the only clooud storage that I actively use. Will try this app. Thanks.

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Sam

Thanks for the article! I’m using this program now to keep my save game files backed up, as they are all over the place in appdata and other places.

Danny Stieben

I’m glad it’s helping you! :)

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GodSponge

I’ve been doing something like this for a while with Link Shell Extension. Right click on the file or folder and select “Pick Link Target” then got to the folder in dropbox and select “drop as…” and pick symlink or hardlink. This app just seems to make it a tiny bit faster. Link Shell Extension is almost as simple as copy and paste.

Danny Stieben

Link Shell Extension? That sounds a lot like link because Gnome Shell has “shell extensions”.

Danny Stieben

*Linux, not link

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jessemanalansan

Never been a fan of DropBox but might need this when I get to college! :)

Danny Stieben

I’m sure it’ll be helpful! Don’t forget that it works with any similar synchronization service, and not just Dropbox.

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