By Ivy / Last update October 22, 2021

Backup or sync external hard drive to Dropbox with given solutions:

Need help: Uploading large folders to Dropbox from external hard drive

I've got a puzzling dilemma that I've been trying to solve for weeks. I want to backup about 500 GBs from an external hard drive to my Dropbox Pro account.

  • My computer's hard drive is nowhere near as large as my EHD, so I can't just move the file to the Dropbox folder.

  • I've tried using MacDropAny by Zibity to create a symbolic link, but when my EHD is no longer connected, Dropbox seems to assume these files have been deleted, and propagates the deletion to the cloud.

  • I've also tried using GoodSync to do a one-way sync to the cloud, but the upload speeds seem to be so slow that this is turning out to be impractical. (Dropbox's own streaming upload seems to be orders of magnitude faster.)

  • Finally, I've considered moving my Dropbox folder to the EHD, but this seems very inconvenient for any times when I don't happen to have my EHD plugged in.

I've been trying to find other options, and I just haven't found anything that would seem to suit my needs. Can anyone suggest a solution that will allow me to upload this folder in a convenient and relatively speedy manor? Thanks!

What is the best way to backup an external hard drive?

In the past, external hard drive is considered as one of the most used physical storage devices to protect data from a disaster, because of its portability and large capacity.

However, sometimes, users may find it has some shortcomings. For example, you need to bring your data always with you so as to use it as needed, but it may be lost or stolen accidentally or even be detroyed by a hit or flood. Also, it is easy to be damaged after a long-term use. 

Then, how to protect data on the external hard drive? As a computer user who care about data protection, you may be aware that cloud storage like Dropbox becomes increasingly popular. It allows you to sync local folder to Dropbox and then access files at any computer without taking a storage device everywhere. Also, the data are stored in the remote location, so it's much safer. And you can directly upgrade storage if there is insufficient space to store your files. 

How to backup data on external hard drive to Dropbox

To backup extenal hard drive to Dropbox, you can its Dropbox folder or website, but it does not suitable for uploading large amount of data. The operation is time-cosuming and tedious, and you may also forget uploading some of files.  And the dropbox folder only sync local folder within it. That's to say, if you want to sync folder outside this folder, you need to add it first. 

To upload large files or sync items outside the Dropbox folder, you can use symbol link to achive it. It's a type a file that contains a link to another file or folder, and commonly used for reference files to two places. Also, you can use a free yet reliable file sync sofware like AOMEI Backupper Standard to copy files from external hard drive to Dropbox. It's easier. 

Method 1: Sync external hard drive to Dropbox via Dropbox app

This method is very useful if you just want to sync small amount of files or folders, or only the important folders on the computer, such as, Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Videos. You can set them to sync when you first install the desktop app or in its Preferences setting.

Here I'll show you all the workflow, from install to sync as well as set the important folder to sync in the Preferences setting. 

Step 1. Download the Dropbox desktop app by clicking the download link and launch the DropboxInstaller.exe. 

Step 2. In the Set Up Dropbox window, sign in with email and password or use other options. 

Sign in

If you are asked to authorzie this app to access your files, click Allow. 

Allows

Step 3. Click Next. If you want to change Dropbox Location or selective sync folders to local computer, click Advanced settings and set it up.

Next

Step 4. In the Choose how to sync your files window, select Make files local and then click Continue with Basic. Or, choose  Make files online-only and click Save space with Plus. 

Make Files Local

Step 5. In the Want to keep your PC backed up window, keep the default folders checked and click Setup. Also, you can add other folders by click Add folders. 

Set Up

Step 6. Click Try Plus for free or Continue with Basic If you don't want to. Click Yes when you asked to confirm the option you choose. Note that the Basic account only has 2GB space for free. 

Continue with Basic

Step 7. Click Next and Go to Dropbox after setting your files up.

Go to Dropbox

If you don't set up important folders on the computer during the installation process, you can follow the steps below:

Step 1. Click the Dropbox icon at the task bar. 

Step 2. Select the drop down arrow next to your account and select Preferences.

Step 3. Click the Backup tab and Set up in the This PC section.

Backup

Step 4. Keep the default folders checked and click Setup. 

Step 5. Click Try Plus for free or Continue with Basic per your needs. Then, click Next and Go to Dropbox after setting your files up.

If you want to sync files outside Dropbox folder, select files or folders you want to sync, copy and paste it to the Dropbox folder. Then, it will automatically sync your files to dropbox.com.

Dropbox Folder

If you want to upload files or folder using Dropbox website, you can open the dropbox.com and select Home > Upload Files or Upload Folder to choose whatever you want to backup.

Upload Files Folder

Method 2: Backup external hard drive to Dropbox using Symbol link

This methods works for users whose internal hard drive is smaller and cannot contain all the data on the external hard drive. If you are in this case, try the following steps.

Step 1. Open your Dropbox folder, copy and paste the location of it to a word document. Usually, the location will be C:\Users\YourUserName\Dropbox.

Step 2. Copy and paste the location you want to sync to Dropbox, here is E:\folder.

Step 3. Type cmd and select it. Then, Select Run as administrator. 

Step 4. In  the command prompt window, type the following command and hit Enter.

mklink /d ‚ÄúC:\Users\YourUserName\Documents\My Dropbox‚Ä̬† ‚ÄúE:\folder‚ÄĚ

Sync External Hard Drive to Dropbox Symbol Link

Step 5. Wait untill the process complets, you will see a message like "Symbolic link created for C:\path1… <<===>> C:\path2…".  Then, go to Dropbox folder and website and check if all the files or folders have synced successfully.

Step 6. Remove the external hard drive from your computer and then the Dropbox will remove all of your data.

Step 7. Delete the linked folder as a normal folder.

Step 8. Go to the dropbox.com and select the Deleted files option. Then, select the folder containing all of your files and click Restore. 

Restore Files Folders

Step 9. Go to the Preferences of Dropbox desktop app, click Sync and Selective Sync, uncheck the the retrieved folder to hide it in this computer.

Selective Sync

Method 3: Backup external hard drive to Dropbox using free backup software

If you want to automatically backup external hard drive to Dropbox without human intervention,  it's a wise choice to use free backup software like AOMEI Backupper Standard. It not only allows you to backup files on external hard drive, but also backup specific partitions or the entire disk as long as you have enough space to hold it. 

To backup filles or folders on external disk, you can use both File Backup or File Sync. The previous one makes an image file to avoid any unwanted access and you can only view your files after restoring. Thus, if you need to use your files frequently, the second one will be a better choice.

Then, let's get started to make an exact copy of your files. Please download AOMEI Backupper, and try it for yourself. 

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

To backup data on external hard drive:

Step 1. Connect the external hard drive to your computer and make sure it can be detected by Windows.

Step 2. Launch AOMEI Backupper, in main page of AOMEI Backupper, click Sync and Basic Sync.

File Sync

Step 3. Click Add Folder and select folders from your external hard drive.

Add Folder

Step 4. Click the inverted triangle and Select a cloud drive. Then, you will see all the available cloud drives in the Select Cloud window, select Dropbox and click OK.

Dropbox

Step 5. Click Schedule and select daily/weekly/monthly. From specific time, you can set start time, finish time, and when to sync files. Then, confirm the items you select and click Start Sync.

Schedule Sync

Notes: 
‚óČ Both event triggers and¬†USB plug in feature in the Schedule is not avaiable in the free version of AOMEI Backupper. You need to upgrade to¬†AOMEI Backupper Professional¬†before using it.
‚óČ Don't modify the source folder name, otherwise this software will not sync changes anymore.
‚óČ The core of Basic Sync is on-way file sync, from source directory to destination. If you want to sync changes between both directories, you could use Two-Way Sync (supported by the professional version).¬†

Conclusion

Backing up external hard drive to Dropbox is one of the safest ways to protect your data, because it not only keep your data far away from computer failure, but also other risks may cause data loss, such as, stolen, fire, etc. Also, you can access your files anywhere without bringing your drive.

To backup external hard drive to cloud, using free backup software can be an easier way, compared with the other 2 ways. It has intuitive interface, so all the users (even novices) can understand it easily and operate like a professional. And it allows you to schedule sync files to keep track of changes by daily/weekly/monthly.