Importing Existing Dropbox Folder
Dropbox is a cloud storage service which replicates the files stored in the “Dropbox” folder of your computer to all other devices linked to the account.
If you start using a new computer, you can simply install the Dropbox app, sign in, and the files will be downloaded. It is not necessary to copy the files from a previous computer; in fact, doing so is not recommended, because the Dropbox client will be confused about what is in the account and will create duplicates.
One way to migrate Dropbox from one machine to another is to use LAN Sync, where Dropbox will fetch files from other hosts on the same network as much as possible. So if both machines are on, the Dropbox client of the newer machine can fetch everything from a local source.
But if the previous machine is not available, and therefore there is no other host to sync files from, a new Dropbox client must download files entirely from the Internet, and this could take days, weeks or even months.
However, there is a way to migrate an existing Dropbox folder to a new Dropbox which avoids a lot of downloading. The technique relies on the fact that Dropbox automatically performs two optimisations when syncing files:
So while best practice is to let the Dropbox app download the contents of the Dropbox folder without trying to manipulate the files unduly, advanced users who need to reinstate a Dropbox folder which is too large to download in a practical period of time may wish to try the following process:
This technique should allow a large Dropbox account to be set up locally in a matter of days rather than weeks. The Dropbox client still has a lot of processing to perform, but can largely skip downloading files from the Internet.
Note that in all the operations above, it is best to let the Dropbox app process uninterrupted; so don't log out or shutdown while it is in progress. It would also be best to add or remove files from the Dropbox folder as little as possible.