Instead, I want a way to keep the folders in My Documents or wherever I have them and still have them in sync with the cloud services. I’ve learned that the best way to do this is to use symbolic links in Windows. An icon-like link creates a shortcut for a folder, but it’s more frequent and acts as a separate folder.
In this article, I’ll walk you through the steps for creating icon links so you can sync any folder on your computer with your cloud service without transferring it. Note that Google has a separate program called Backup and Sync that allows you to select any folder on your computer to back up to Google Drive. We will explain below.
Sync folders with Dropbox and OneDrive
Before starting the steps for OneDrive, I’d like to mention that they now have an option called AutoSave that allows you to move the contents of your Desktop, My Documents, and Pictures folders to OneDrive without having to mess with them. Whatever is on your part. Essentially, they point local folders to OneDrive folders to make it seamless.
However, it is only for those three folders. If you have a folder saved somewhere else, you’ll need to either move it to the OneDrive folder or create a symbolic link. To do this for Dropbox or OneDrive, I have created an example to guide you through this process. As you can see below, I have an OneDrive folder on the left and an OneDrive Test folder inside C: Test.
So I want to sync the OneDrive Test folder to my OneDrive account folder without moving it. To do this, you must open an elevated command prompt and type the following command:
mklink / J "C: Users Aseem OneDrive Personal" "C: Test OneDrive Test"
So let me explain what we are doing here. We are creating a symlink using the mklink command. It takes two parameters: the first is the location of the symbolic link you want to create, and the second the source directory. As you can see, I don’t need to create personal folders In the OneDrive folder; the mklink command will do it for me. Alternatively, you can use whatever name you want for the directory.
So I told Windows to create an icon-linked folder in the OneDrive folder called Personal, which points to the C: Test OneDrive Test folder. Once the link is created, you’ll see a Personal folder inside the OneDrive folder:
If you open that folder, the path will show up as if stored in OneDrive Personal when stored in the Test folder. You can add files to the directory from either location, and both will have the same content as it is a directory, not two. That’s it!
OneDrive and Dropbox both support symlink folders and will sync everything to the cloud, as shown below:
Sync folders to Google Drive
For Google Drive, start by downloading the Backup and Sync software mentioned above. When you begin the installation, you will get the following screen for step 2:
By default, it will choose Desktop, Documents, and Pictures, but you can click Choose Folder and choose any folder you want. You can also click the Change link to back up pictures and videos or add file extensions that you don’t want to sync.
In step 3, you choose the folders you want to sync down to your local computer. I usually do uncheck Sync My Drive to this computer, as I use it as a backup for my computer.
So you have it! Now, you can sync any folder on your computer with the cloud service. You will have to create a symbolic link or maybe have a feature whereby you can choose which folders you want to sync. If you have any questions or problems, post a comment here, and I will try to help. Enjoy!