Tips to Sync Any Folder to the Cloud by Using Symbolic Links

by : Brooke M. Perry

Almost all of you must be aware of the amazing cloud storage features that are offered to make your stored content secure and available anytime, anywhere. Cloud storage services such as Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and others offer amazing support to allow you access your content by using various devices, but they all have the same problem. Highlighting the main issue and creating problems for users while syncing the folders, these cloud storage companies can only synchronize folders inside its platform. But, many tech geeks and cloud management experts deployed their skills and efforts to come up with a work around to this limitation and named it as symbolic links.

In this article, you'll read about the basic functioning of symbolic links and how to use them on a Windows, Mac, or Linux device?

What are Symbolic Links?

Symbolic links are specifically developed to synchronize any folder on your PC to the cloud storage platform that a user is currently using. Before starting the synchronization process, users must ensure that the configuration file that has to be synchronized should be placed in a specific location of your PC. All the major operating systems (OS) are offered with integrated tools for creating symbolic links and they work excellently to bridge the gap between your PC and cloud storage platform. A symbolic link, once created, acts as a ‘pointer' towards a folder that presents details same as the real folder or files.

In case you want to synchronize all the files in C:\Stuff with Dropbox, then you can create a symbolic link in the Dropbox folder to point the link to C:\Stuff. On successful creation of the link, the Dropbox will synchronize everything inside the C:\Stuff folder.

Sync Any Folder to the Cloud by Using Symbolic Links in Windows

(Note: This section will use any folder to be synchronized to OneDrive on Windows 8.1.)

  1. Log-in as an Administrator and open a Command Prompt window by pressing the ‘Windows Key + X' and clicking on the ‘Command Prompt' option.
  2. In the Command Prompt window, type-in ‘move "C:\Path\To\ExternalFolder" "C:\Users\NAME\Dropbox"' and replace ‘C: \Path\To\ExternalFolder' with the path to the folder you want to sync. Now, replace the ‘C: \Users\NAME\Dropbox' with the path to your current cloud storage folder and it will move the entire folder to your cloud storage folder.
  3. Admin should create a symbolic link by typing ‘mklink /d "C:\Path\To\ExternalFolder" "C:\Users\NAME\OneDrive\ExternalFolder"' in the Command Prompt window and the folder will contain all synchronized folders at its original location.

Sync Any Folder to the Cloud by Using Symbolic Links in Linux

Linux users can create a symbolic link with the help of its ‘ln commands' feature and then you'll not be required to move any files around. To do the same, follow these steps:

  1. Open a terminal and run the ‘ln -s /path/to/ExternalFolder ~/Dropbox/' command.
  2. You can easily synchronize an individual file by specifying its path instead of the path to a folder. If it doesn't work, then first move the external folder within your current cloud storage folder. Once the folders are moved successfully, create a symbolic link in reverse, like the same you would do on Windows.

Sync Any Folder to the Cloud by Using Symbolic Links in Mac OS X

  1. Open a terminal window by pressing ‘Command + Space,' and then type ‘Terminal' in the Spotlight search dialog, and hit ‘Enter.'
  2. Run the ln -s "/path/to/ExternalFolder"  "/Users/name/Dropbox/ExternalFolder" command, in the appropriate path.
  3. This command will not work properly with Google Drive, but performs well with other popular cloud storage platforms. Since Google Drive won't accept symbolic links, move the folder you want to synchronize inside your cloud storage folder and create the symbolic link in reverse. Run ‘mv "/path/to/ExternalFolder"' "/Users/name/Google Drive/"' to move the folder and use ‘ln -s "/Users/name/Google Drive/ExternalFolder" "/path/to/ExternalFolder"' to create a symbolic link in reverse.
 Apart from linking the internal folders, you can also use this feature to synchronize external folders that are located outside your cloud storage folder. Since the prime function of these links is to establish a bridge between your PC's folder and the cloud storage platform, it performs the same for external folders as well. Create an external symbolic link on each computer that you use and the folders with the same content will appear across your devices. You can easily establish external links by using a third-party program or tool included in the OS. So what are you waiting for? Spot a folder, establish a link, connect with cloud storage and service, and access them anytime, anywhere.