How can I install Dropbox?

You may run the installation of Dropbox in your home directory on your own. Please follow the instructions below for the installation. If the steps are not clear and you would like some help, or they do not work for you, please let us know:

  • On a terminal window, do the following:
  • Change present working directory to your home directory: cd /home/USERNAME
  • Create a dummy Dropbox directory (case sensitive): mkdir Dropbox
  • Change present working directory to /scratch: cd /scratch
  • Create a directory with your username: mkdir USERNAME
  • Run the Dropbox installer: cd ~ && wget -O - "https://www.dropbox.com/download?plat=lnx.x86_64" | tar xzf -
  • Note: You may have to run the installer twice as the first time may run into permissions errors.
  • Change present working directory to your home directory: cd ~
  • Create a /bin directory. Create /bin only if you do not have a directory named /bin already: mkdir bin
  • Change present working directory to ~/bin: cd ~/bin
  • Create a symbolic link to the executable "dropboxd": ln -s ~/.dropbox-dist/dropboxd dropbox
  • Note: This points "dropbox" on the terminal to your new installation of Dropbox in ~/bin and not the system's that is located in /user/local/bin)
  • Run Dropbox and log in.
  • The default location for Dropbox is /home/USERNAME/Dropbox, so you should get a message saying that a Dropbox folder already exists in that location (created in the first step) and asking you to choose another location.
  • Select /scratch/USERNAME and then click "choose" to confirm (the "/" directory is large and it may seem to freeze when you type it in, but it's actually just loading and may take a couple of minutes before you can type out the rest).
  • Finally, click on "Open my Dropbox folder" and all of your data will start synchronizing to the new location.
  • Remove the dummy Dropbox directory in your home directory: cd /home/USERNAME then rm Dropbox

Dropbox exists on the hard drive of your machine (HOSTNAME) which means that if you ever access Dropbox remotely by SSH'ing into access.cims.nyu.edu, you will have to then SSH into your machine before you can reach /scratch/USERNAME as the Dropbox directory there will not follow you as your home directory does. On that note, I will stress that you should only run Dropbox on your local machine as running it on another machine in our network will cause Dropbox to believe that you have deleted or moved your Dropbox directory and will ask you to either exit the application or re-link Dropbox to another location. Keep this in mind should you ever receive a new machine as this process will have to be started over again if that happens.

What should I do if I already have Dropbox Installed?

It may be the case that Dropbox is already installed in your home directory. Although this technically works, there are actually various risks and downsides for having the directory in a network location instead of the recommended local storage:

  • The files synced from Dropbox will consume disk quota in your home directory and hitting your disk quota will make both Dropbox and your workstation dysfunctional.
  • The constant synchronization between Dropbox and our servers is traffic on our servers that can be mitigated.
  • Running Dropbox on multiple machines at the same time that mount your home directory leads to unexpected results in writing/syncing and can possibly lead to data corruption.

Dropbox mentions on their website (https://www.dropbox.com/help/89) that it is not compatible on network file systems such as ours. For these reasons, we can't continue to support having the Dropbox directory in your home directory. Instead, we highly suggest that you move the directory to your local machine's hard drive which exists outside of our network file system. Having Dropbox located here avoids these problems. Should you like to keep the Dropbox directory in your home directory, you may, but we do recommend against it. We may be limited in what we can do should your data become corrupt due to Dropbox being misused in a network environment.

As of September 2017, the instructions below result in an error. The recommended solution is now to stop syncing Dropbox and uninstall it completely, including, deleting the Dropbox directory in your /home/USERNAME directory (after confirming your data has synced to the cloud). You can then follow the instructions here to reinstall it:

https://cims.nyu.edu/webapps/content/systems/faq/dropbox/install

  • INSTRUCTIONS BELOW FAIL AS OF OCT. 2017

  • Click on the Dropbox icon and choose "Preferences".
  • Under account choose "Unlink This Dropbox..." and confirm.
  • In a terminal, do the following:
    • Change present working directory to /scratch: cd /scratch
    • Create a directory with your username: mkdir USERNAME
  • You may choose to rename the Dropbox directory in your home directory as something else so as to keep it as a backup and not confuse it with the Dropbox directory that will be created in the /scratch/USERNAME directory. However this may unnecessarily take space and you may desire to just delete the directory instead at your convenience.
  • Run Dropbox again and log back in.
  • Click on "Advanced Options" if you are not asked what location you would like to place the Dropbox directory.
  • The default location for Dropbox here is /home/USERNAME/Dropbox, but you can click on the drop-down menu and choose "Other".
  • In the directory search bar type /scratch/USERNAME and then click "choose" to confirm (the "/" directory is large and it may seem to freeze when you type it in, but it's actually just loading and may take a couple of minutes before you can type out the rest).
  • Finally, click on "Open my Dropbox folder" and all of your data will start synchronizing to the new location.

There shouldn't be any functional differences between having Dropbox in in the /scratch partition instead of your home directory. However, one notable difference is that now Dropbox exists on the hard drive of your machine (HOSTNAME) which means that if you ever access Dropbox remotely by SSH'ing into access.cims.nyu.edu, you will have to then SSH into your machine before you can reach /scratch/USERNAME as the Dropbox directory there will not follow you as your home directory does. On that note, we stress that you should only run Dropbox on your local machine as running it on another machine in our network will cause Dropbox to believe that you have deleted or moved your Dropbox directory and will ask you to either exit the application or re-link Dropbox to another location. Keep this in mind should you ever receive a new machine as this process will have to be started over again if that happens.