Monday, August 20, 2012

DropBox revisited ...

    A while ago I was having an issue with DropBox trying to copy my entire HardDrive to the cloud, thus filling my 2GB cloud storage rather easily. I had received no word from DropBox support at the time of the post. The problem is now resolved.

    As it turns out, the problem was not with DropBox at all. The problem was, my own ignorance of how a piece of software called "Wineskin Winery" worked. The application is a basically a wrapper for Wine, which in turn is a wrapper for running MicroSoft Windows Applications without windows.

    When you create one of these "Wine Bottles", the Windows Application you are trying to run does not know about the Mac/*nix file system. It still relies on things like C:\ and other such "windows conventions". To counter this Wine uses a system called SymLinks.

    SymLinks basically lie to the application and tell it that "C:\users\Name\Desktop\" is really there, and when it asks for files from that folder it really feeding it the *nix version which is something like "~/Home/Desktop". These SymLinks are special files that are handled at a very low level by the operating system.

    In turn, osX applications are really just special folders that contain all of the application files. The OS can recognize these folders and gives them special permissions. The DropBox application is not no smart.

    DropBox sees these Applications as just a folder. When it encounters a SymLink, it thinks that is also "just another folder". So if your WineSkin application has "C:\" pointing to your root folder (i.e. "/") then it will see your entire Hard Drive as a subfolder of that application.

    This is worse than it sounds. If I had unlimited storage available, the DropBox application would have been stuck in an endless loop of copying the contents of the hard drive over and over again each time it ran into this "SymLink" and started again. This would place multiple copies if itself in ever deeper subfolders.

    So how do you fix it? You have to go to the DropBox website and manually delete the offending application, which shows up as a brown folder. However, you will get an error message saying your trying to delete to many files. So you have to go into each subfolder and remove them one at a time. You have to do this each time you get the error. It took me around three hours to clean it all out.

    Also, Move or Delete the offending application from your DropBox folder on your computer, and shutdown the DropBox application to prevent further syncing until you are finished cleaning up. Once this tedious task is complete your DropBox account should return to normal.

    In the end, I have to give props to the support agent who discovered the issue. Even though it took a very long time to get back to me, when they did, there response was spot on. I am now able to use DropBox again, just as I always have.

    For future reference, if your on a Mac, don't drop applications into your DropBox folder. If you do, compress them first or take your chances.

    Until next time ...