Using Dropbox to synchronise existing folders

Dropbox is a great service at a decent price, it’s limited however by the fact that it only synchronises files stored inside your ‘Dropbox’ folder. To get around this limitation on Windows 7 here’s what you need to do (as with anything like this, always backup everything to an external drive first, usual disclaimers apply, follow these instructions at your own risk).

  1. Inside your Dropbox folder, create folders with the same name as the ones you already have on your hard disk, in my case “Music”, “Documents” and “Pictures”.
  2. Move all your data from the existing folders into your Dropbox folder (they should start uploading to Dropbox) – Yes I said move, so make sure you backed.
  3. Delete the original folders (which will now be empty as you moved everything into your Dropbox)
  4. For each folder, create a symbolic link from your original location to the new one inside your Dropbox by running mklink from an administrative command prompt.
    mklink /D “C:UsersMarcDocuments”  “C:UsersMarcDropboxDocuments”
  5. That’s it! When you setup a new PC, you will have to start from step 4 and all your documents, pictures and music will just appear.

It will also work the other way round, creating a link from inside the Dropbox folder to your existing documents folder, however Dropbox only recognises changes when it gets restarted which defeats the point if you’re using it as a backup service and want to make use of it’s ‘Previous Versions’ feature.

Hope this might be of use to someone, and I hope Dropbox make doing this easier like Windows Live Mesh. Happy syncing!

Does Microsoft have a virtualisation trick up it’s sleeve for Windows 8?

Please Microsoft, do the right thing!image

So Windows 8 will be all things do all people, a tablet operating system to rival iOS and Android for consuming content, while at the same time a fully functional desktop operating system that we use to create content. Sounds great, right?

How can that be possible? Can you imagine the iPad having 10 hours of battery life if it had to run all the background processes (and crapware) that comes preinstalled on most PCs? Bloated AntiVirus software, scheduled disk clean-ups, random Adobe icons, it can be a bit unwieldy for a system that is suppose to be “always on” – the iPad will after all, receive notifications while in standby (and yes the 10 hours is actual usage, not standby). I can’t see Windows doing that, and even with specially tuned hardware all it takes is for someone to install a bit of rouge “classic” software (rather than software using the new JavaScript and probably Silverlight APIs) and that all gets thrown out the Window (sorry, bad pun).

So maybe Microsoft has taken the technology it developed for Windows 7’s “XP Mode” and made it so when you buy a tablet PC, the classic side of the system that can run all your old software is completely virtualised. This would mean the entire legacy system would be contained within a single process that could be paused to save battery.

When installed on a desktop, this extra layer probably wouldn’t be needed (Obviously games and other high-end software won’t run well in a virtualised environment) – but for a tablet I think it makes sense.

Obviously this is just pure speculation on my part, so lets hope all will be revealed at this year’s BUILD conference.