Resolved Dropbox won't sync folder called "Documents"

Discussion in 'OS X El Capitan (10.11)' started by RadicalxEdward, Jan 24, 2016.

  1. RadicalxEdward, Jan 24, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2016

    RadicalxEdward macrumors 6502

    RadicalxEdward

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2011
    #1
    Hello all,

    this should probably go on the dropbox forums, but they don't seem very active and the people here are very clever, so please bear with me.

    SUMMARY:
    Dropbox won't sync any folder called "Documents". If I create it on my local machine, it won't sync to dropbox. If I create it on dropbox.com it won't sync to my local machine.

    HISTORY:
    I recently setup an SSD/HDD situation in my MBP after removing the optical drive. I put the OS/Apps on the SSD and my media on the HDD. For my user folder I put everything on the HDD except the "library" folder and symlinked them back to the home folder on the SSD. (I copied those folders to the HDD with all original permissions, resource forks, etc. just an fyi)

    I wanted to backup my Documents folder with dropbox. So I moved the Documents folder inside the dropbox folder and then symlinked that back to the original location. But it wouldn't sync. While trying to figure out why, I found that if i renamed the folder, it would sync. If I created a new folder and named it "Documents" it wouldn't sync. If I named it " Documents" (space first), "_Documents" "Document" etc, it would sync. so I'm assuming the only issue is the name. But I don't recall ever having this issue before.

    I checked Dropbox's documentation as well as running a bad file check. However neither provided any answers. Also made sure selective sync wasn't the problem. Dropbox doesn't even see any folder named Documents, never mind not syncing it.

    TECH SPECS:
    Late 2011 MacBook Pro
    OS X 10.11.2 El Capitan
    Dropbox v3.14.2 (up to date)
    [​IMG]

    Status icons
    Here are all the status icons you might see:
    [​IMG]
    Synced!
    A green circle with a check mark is a wonderful thing and what you'll see most often. When it appears on the Dropbox icon in your system tray or menu bar, it means your Dropbox is fully synced. When it appears on an individual file or folder, it means the file or folder has finished syncing the latest changes.
    [​IMG]
    Sync in progress
    The blue circle with rotating arrows is another great sign that your Dropbox is running smoothly. When it appears on the Dropbox icon in your system tray or menu bar, your Dropbox is currently syncing, with files uploading and/or downloading. (Click on the Dropbox icon to see an estimate of how long syncing will take.) Individual files and folders that are in the process of syncing will also appear with this icon.
    [​IMG]
    A file or folder isn't syncing
    The gray circle with the minus sign may appear on a file or folder when you're using the Selective Sync feature (meaning you've opted not to sync it on your computer). In general selectively synced files and folders won't appear in your Dropbox at all. However, if you create a new file or folder with the same name, it will appear with the gray icon, indicating that it's not being synced.
    [​IMG]
    Sync not happening
    The red circle with the x means that something is wrong, and Dropbox is unable to sync. Usually, this happens because your storage quota is full (can't upload), your hard drive is full (can't download), or you're experiencing connection problems (no Internet). See our troubleshooting page if this icon appears.


    SOLUTION:
    .... As I was writing a response below, I figured it out. So I’m putting this solution at the top here for anyone else who ever runs into this problem.

    Turns out that the online created folder doesn't show up on my computer because for some reason, it doesn't get checked in the "selective sync" options by default. (Don't ask me why. It's never happened before like that) Anyway, I went into selective sync, saw the online created documents folder, checked it, and it synced to my local machine. I then was able to fix things with the following process.

    1. Deleted online-created “Documents” folder on my local machine. (Confirmed deleted online)
    2. Deleted symlink from home folder on SSD and Media drive (HDD)
    3. OS then automatically recreated default “Documents” folder in home folder (SSD) with proper permissions settings.
    4. Using terminal, I copied that folder over to dropbox with all attributes intact:
      Code:
      MacBook-Pro:~ RadicalxEdward$ cp -PRv ./Documents /Volumes/Media/System/Support/Dropbox
      ./Documents -> /Volumes/Media/System/Support/Dropbox/Documents
      ./Documents/.localized -> /Volumes/Media/System/Support/Dropbox/Documents/.localized
      
    5. I added back all my old data. Everything was still syncing correctly.
    6. Next I deleted the system-created Documents folder from my home folder to make way for symlinks.
      Code:
      sudo rm -drfv Documents
      
    7. I then created symlinks back to the home folder (SSD) and HDD
      Code:
      MacBook-Pro:~ RadicalxEdward$ ln -s /Volumes/Media/System/Support/Dropbox/Documents Documents
      MacBook-Pro:~ RadicalxEdward$ ln -s /Volumes/Media/System/Support/Dropbox/Documents /Volumes/Media/Documents
      
    8. All was right in the world.
     
  2. NoBoMac macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2014
    #2
    If I recall correctly, I've never had any real success with symlinks to folders, only files. And even then, once you save a file back to Dropbox from some other app (eg. Excel for iOS), the symlink is overwritten with the file.

    So, I have a weird mix of things regarding Dropbox. Files that I will modify on Mac and other platforms (pretty much only iOS), file is stored in Dropbox folder, with symlink to it from my Mac Documents folder structure. Documents that will be read-only in Dropbox (for reference only; eg. recipe files), those are linked to their master files in Documents.

    Works for me in that I am not looking to put everything into Dropbox. It's only a small subset of files that I might or actually do need to access away from home. Only using 2.8GB on Dropbox.
     
  3. RadicalxEdward thread starter macrumors 6502

    RadicalxEdward

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2011
    #3
    Dropbox recommends against adding symlinks to dropbox. however they do recommend symlinking/aliasing/shortcutting FROM dropbox in many use-cases, which is what i'm doing. i.e.
    Good:
    ~/Documents Alias/
    /Volumes/Media/Dropbox/Documents/

    Bad:
    ~/Documents/
    /Volumes/Media/Dropbox/Documents Alias/
     
  4. jbarley macrumors 68030

    jbarley

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2006
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    #4
    For years now I've used a free app called MacDropAny to sync my Documents folder with DropBox and across several different computers, it has never let me down and always worked as expected.
     
  5. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #5
    I think the problem is you are going about this backwards. Put the Documents folder back where it was then symlink it to Dropbox with this command in Terminal. Or use MacDripAny like jbarley suggested, which does the same thing by creating the symlink for you.

    You may need to alter that first ~/Documents path if you do not have Documents in the default users folder.

    Code:
    ln -s ~/Documents ~/Dropbox/Documents
    Then when you look in the DB folder it will look like this. Anything you put in the ~/Documents folder will get synced to DB. I have been doing this for years and it works perfectly.

    Screen Shot 2016-01-25 at 10.22.36 AM.png
     
  6. RadicalxEdward, Jan 25, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2016

    RadicalxEdward thread starter macrumors 6502

    RadicalxEdward

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2011
    #6
    Thanks for the tips guys, I really appreciate everyone chiming in. Unforunately your solutions aren't bad or wrong, they just don't apply to this situation for a few reasons. (not trying to be rude here) I apologize if my posts are a little...long-winded.

    1. Just as an FYI, I did see this article, explaining how to do things the way you guys are suggesting using macdropany. However macdropany is simply a tool for automatically making symlinks (different than aliases or hard links for those unaware) which is what i've done manually.

    2. As you guys have mentioned, I've done things backwards to the way you recommend, but it both makes more sense to me, and is the way dropbox recommends. and they specifically recommend AGAINST doing things the way you're suggesting and recommend instead doing it the way i do. (putting the original in dropbox and link outside rather than vice versa)
    From their help sections:
    [​IMG]

    3. Most importantly, this issue is actually separate from any linking issues. If we set aside my original documents folder and just put that back where it's supposed to go. Then we go back to dropbox, (which now has nothing in it) and create a NEW FOLDER, which we leave named "untitled folder" it will work fine. If we instead name it "Documents" (or rename it), it will then refuse to be recognized by dropbox. So as you can see, it's got something to do with the name and not how i'm using it. I think i mentioned it before (not positive) but doing the same thing on the dropbox website causes the same problem but in reverse. If I create it online, it doesn't show up on my local machine......................


    SOLUTION:
    .... As I was writing this, I figured it out. Turns out that the online created folder doesn't show up on my computer because for some reason, it doesn't get checked in the "selective sync" options by default. (Don't ask me why. It's never happened before like that) Anyway, I went into selective sync, saw the online created documents folder, checked it, and it synced to my local machine. I then was able to fix things with the following process.

    1. Deleted online-created “Documents” folder on my local machine. (Confirmed deleted online)
    2. Deleted symlink from home folder on SSD and Media drive (HDD)
    3. OS then automatically recreated default “Documents” folder in home folder (SSD) with proper permissions settings.
    4. Using terminal, I copied that folder over to dropbox with all attributes intact:
      Code:
      MacBook-Pro:~ RadicalxEdward$ cp -PRv ./Documents /Volumes/Media/System/Support/Dropbox
      ./Documents -> /Volumes/Media/System/Support/Dropbox/Documents
      ./Documents/.localized -> /Volumes/Media/System/Support/Dropbox/Documents/.localized
      
    5. I added back all my old data. Everything was still syncing correctly.
    6. Next I deleted the system-created Documents folder from my home folder to make way for symlinks.
      Code:
      sudo rm -drfv Documents
      
    7. I then created symlinks back to the home folder (SSD) and HDD
      Code:
      MacBook-Pro:~ RadicalxEdward$ ln -s /Volumes/Media/System/Support/Dropbox/Documents
      Documents
      MacBook-Pro:~ RadicalxEdward$ ln -s /Volumes/Media/System/Support/Dropbox/Documents
      /Volumes/Media/Documents
      
    8. All was right in the world.
     
  7. jbarley macrumors 68030

    jbarley

    Joined:
    Jul 1, 2006
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    #7
    What I said earlier, simple, quick and works every time.
     
  8. RadicalxEdward, Jan 25, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2016

    RadicalxEdward thread starter macrumors 6502

    RadicalxEdward

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2011
    #8
    LOL It's how I already had it set up before i even made the original post. The only thing I did to fix the problem (to sum up my novel up there) was create the Documents folder on the dropbox website rather than on my local machine. Somehow that fixed the problem of dropbox not recognizing the Documents folder I had created locally. But i still deleted the online one and put back a locally created one in the same way i had before. It just worked this time. Nothing change except making that online folder first.

    Unless you're trying to say that it would have been easier to do your way. Can't tell. but despite my writing style, it only took less than 5 min to do. Writing the post took way longer than actually fixing the problem.
     

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