While iCloud does a lot of nice things for owners of Apple products, Dropbox works on every platform, making it an always-accessible service for file storage. Most people don’t keep more than a few gigabytes of data in their accounts, but sometimes people decide it might be fun to sync all their music or videos to the cloud. I currently have my entire photography portfolio and all my important documents synced to Dropbox.
Why this instead of iCloud or another competing service? For access to deleted files. If I accidentally remove something from my account, I can go back and get it within 30 days. And if I pay for a Pro account plus the packrat add-on, I can access all my files ever synced to the service. It’s a pretty handy feature, and it’s a good reason to back up some of your information to Dropbox’s secure servers. In this short tutorial, I’ll teach you how to do this without moving everything around using a tool called MacDropAny.
Before You Begin: Find Your Files and Folders
Skimming through my files.
Before you begin, gather a list of all the files or folders you wish to backup. You can sync anything, but it’s not a good idea to back up any system files to the cloud. Instead, we recommend using Time Machine, which will also serve as an extra, physical backup of anything you sync with Dropbox.
Don’t be limited to multiple gigabytes in files. You may need to upgrade your Dropbox account to upload the content (the free account is limited to 2 GB), but it may be worth it to pay $9.99 each month for 100 GB of storage. I’ll leave that to you.
I recommend synchronizing your pictures, documents (Pages, Word, PDF, and other text files take up very little space and should definitely be in the cloud if they’re important to you), work files (PSDs, Logic Pro projects, and even 3D renders may be worth syncing, despite the size), and even music if you can’t download it again or if your CD was lost.
Keep in mind that pictures and music take up a lot of space and will take a while to upload, so make sure you have a sufficient Internet connection before proceeding.
Download and Install MacDropAny
To sync files with Dropbox, you will be creating a symbolic link, which basically notifies Dropbox’s servers of changes as they take place and allows the service modify files on its own (from other computers) without the need to move things to the Dropbox folder. MacDropAny is a free tool that allows you to create a symbolic link between any folder and your cloud account. It works with Dropbox, Box.com, Copy, Google Drive, iClouDrive, and Microsoft SkyDrive, but today I’ll be looking at the first one since it’s been the most reliable for me in the past.
Launch the App and Link Your Folders
Selecting a folder to sync.
MacDropAny is an extremely simple app. When you first launch it, the app will ask what folder you’d like to sync. You can only do one at a time, so navigate to the first thing on your list and click Choose.
Select a service.
You’ll be presented with a screen asking which service you’d like to sync the folder to. I chose Dropbox and clicked OK. You can use one of the other options, but this tutorial is focused on Dropbox alone.
Make sure everything goes to the right place.
MacDropAny will make sure it syncs the folder to the correct destination. It will ask you to navigate your Dropbox folder and select where you’d like the selected folder to be synced. If you’d like it to stay in your main Dropbox directory, simply click Choose.
Before you’re finished, make sure you give the folder’s copy a name. The app will automatically use the original name of the folder, but you can change it if you’d like. Click “Sync ‘Folder Name’ with Dropbox” and Dropbox will automatically begin backing up your files.
The Waiting Begins
That’s it! Your files are now being backed up to the cloud. Not too difficult, was it?
Speed up the process by removing the upload limit.
If things are running slow, open Dropbox’s settings by clicking the menu bar icon, then the gear, and selecting Preferences, then head to the Network and click “Change Settings…” beside Bandwidth. Make sure the upload rate is on “Don’t limit” and click Update. Please note that this may slow down your Internet browsing speed while syncing is underway.
Let us know if you had any trouble with some of the steps in this tutorial or if you have a suggestion. Thanks for reading!