Moving a Dropbox Folder

Moving a dropbox folder isn’t difficult, but you have to do it the right way

Dropbox logoWhen you install Dropbox, it will initially place the local copies of your files (ie the copies that are on your computer, as opposed to the copies that are in the cloud) in a default place on your computer that is probably perfectly adequate and reasonable, but which you may want to change at a later date. This could be desirable, for instance, if Dropbox has placed your files on a small SSD (solid state drive) but you would prefer them to be on a large hard drive.

In fact, the default location is within your “user” folder – eg “c:\users\username\dropbox”. Moving a Dropbox Folder is easy but you need to do it the right way. If you try to move a Dropbox folder by just dragging it from its current location and dropping it to a new one, then one of two things will happen:

  • If Dropbox is currently open, Windows will object and not let you do it
  • If Dropbox is not currently open, Windows will not object and will move the folder. However, the next time you open Dropbox, Dropbox will say it can’t find your files

So, how do you do it properly?

Dropbox - icon and settings
Dropbox notification area icon and Settings button
  • With Dropbox open, click on the Dropbox icon in the notification area of the taskbar (ie at the bottom righthand side of the screen)
  • Click on the “Settings” cogwheel at the top right of the window that has just popped up
  • Click on the “Preferences” option
  • At the top right of the window that has popped up, click on “Sync”
  • You will now see that the last option on the screen allows you to move the Dropbox folder location. Click on “move” and select the new location. So, if you want to move your Dropbox to drive d: for instance, select the new location as being drive d. Don’t create the “Dropbox” folder within drive d: or you will end up with the final location being “d:\dropbox\dropbox”. Just select the location as “d:” and the program will create “d:\dropbox”

Dropbox - sync and move
Dropbox Sync option and Move option
After you have selected your new location, Dropbox will copy all the files from the old to the new location and delete the old location. It will then perform a “sync” – ie it will check that the files at your new location match the files at your Dropbox cloud location. This is a fairly quick process and will certainly be a lot faster than if it performed the move by copying all your files from the cloud into the new location on your computer.

Note that you can not move your Dropbox folder to an external drive (and that includes not being able to move it to a USB stick). This makes sense, as Dropbox would not be able to function properly if the external drive was either not connected or connected under a different drive name (eg “f:” when Dropbox previously identified it as “d:”).