Dropbox (review, bonus 250MB, or [ad#CJ-DropboxPro-TextLink]) and ZumoDrive both offer an amazing cloud-based file synchronization service, yet their features do not completely overlap. Until the services have closer feature parity, there are different reasons to use each. For me, one the the biggest features of Dropbox is the availability on Linux, which ZumoDrive does not offer. On the other hand, ZumoDrive has a client for iPhone, which Dropbox does not yet have. If I want truly want to access my files on any platform, I have to use both services.
Aside from these feature differences, using two services allows me to escape the lock-in of a single provider. If either company experiences a service interruption, I can rely on the other in the meantime, giving me a mirroring-like setup.
To accomplish automatic synchronization, we are going to leverage a feature called Symbolic Links (symlinks). Linux, Unix, and Mac users are likely familiar with the concept, as it has been around for more than 15 years and is now part of the POSIX standard. For those new to the symlink concept, it acts similar to a Windows shortcut, but provides direct access to a file. A shortcut in Windows is actually a .lnk file containing information on the destination; the Operating System or application must be acutely aware of how to interpret this .lnk shortcut. This contrasts with a symbolic link, which is treated as an actual destination in the file system.
Think of a path as driving directions: There are many roads (paths) to get to a destination (file or folder). Instead of going right-left-left, you can just go straight. You arrive at the same destination, but have traveled via different routes to get there.
Linking Dropbox and ZumoDrive
As mentioned, NTFS supports symlinks, but the tools for creating them were not widely distributed before Windows Vista. To overcome this inconvenience, we’ll be using a tool called Link Shell Extension. This tool provides right-click access to link creation through shell integration. The tool is available for Windows NT4, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 for all common architectures (32-bit, 64-bit, and Itanium).
- Install Link Shell Extension. Vista users should “Run as Administrator”
- Ensure that ZumoDrive is running
- Exit Dropbox
- Copy the contents of the My Dropbox folder (not the directory itself) into ZumoDrive
- Navigate to your Computer, so you can see a listing of all system drives
- Right-click on ZumoDrive and select “Pick Link Source”
- Navigate to the parent folder above My Dropbox (i.e. your user folder) and right-click empty space and choose, Drop As… → SymbolicLink
- A new directory will be created called “ZumoDrive (Z)”, but you’ll notice a small arrow badge in the lower left corner. That’s because this is – unsurprisingly – a symbolic link.
- Delete the “My Dropbox” folder
- Rename “ZumoDrive (Z)” to “My Dropbox”
- Start Dropbox
After Dropbox has started, it should synchronize like normal. You can now copy files into your Dropbox or ZumoDrive location and have them synchronize to both services. If you’d like to verify everything is working properly, feel free to log into each website and verify the contents.
Because of restrictions placed on folder destination, using symlinks is a great workaround to ensure both services stay in sync.
See also: Dropbox Review