Multiple DropBox Instances on Windows 7 (or Vista)
If you are a current user or fan of Dropbox, you can skip this first bit and get straight to the Tutorial. If you’re a friend or regular reader of my page who isn’t familiar with Dropbox, it’s a cloud computing service that gives you 2GB of free storage space for your data. You can do some things to get a little more free storage space as well. Do the tutorials, tell your friends, get your friends to sign up, tweet, talk on Facebook, etc. I currently have 3.25 GB of space on my free account. There are also larger paid accounts if you need more space, but nothing as big as your hard drive, unfortunately.
There are some great uses for Dropbox. I’ll quickly summarize, but to read in detail, I recommend a great article in Lifehacker – The Cleverest Ways to Use Dropbox That You’re Not Using. There’s also another good article called Dropbox Hacks. They recommend using is as your My Documents folder, as a shared work Network folder, as your iTunes music folder, as an SVN folder (for programmers), and so on. (Here’s another great article on The Ultimate Dropbox Toolkit Guide)
My personal choice is to use it to easily access documents that I need often across multiple computers. For my needs, I need one personal Dropbox account for my personal documents and I need to access documents to a business account that has shared documents. This gets a little tricky.
First off, if you do not have a Dropbox account, you’ll need to sign up for one. If you use my REFERRAL LINK, we both get a free 250 MB of free storage for your trouble. (Thanks in advance.)
Disclaimer: I do not condone using this method as a workaround to get extra storage space. If you need the extra space, get your friends to sign up. Even if they don’t use the service. If you can’t do that, get better friends. Seriously. 8 people will get you 2 GB of storage. I needed this method because I needed to access different Dropbox accounts for personal and business accounts. If this is your purpose, read on…
Step 1 – The Main Dropbox Account
You have multiple Dropbox accounts. Most likely one of those is a personal account and one is a business account. Or you have a main business account and have to link to client accounts. Decide which account is your main account. If you don’t have any installed, install and connect that one now.
If you have a different one connected, you will have to unlink your computer first.
Unlinking your computer from your Dropbox account means Dropbox will no longer sync files from that computer to the website and other linked computers. Your files will remain in the Dropbox folder of the unlinked computer afterwards.
To unlink your computer from your account:
- Right-click on the Dropbox icon from your system tray. You may need to click on the arrow to show all system tray icons
The Dropbox icon on the system tray
- Choose Preferences… from the menu
- Click on Unlink this computer…
That’s it! Next time you start Dropbox, it will ask you if you want to link your computer to an account again. To link your computer to a different account, you should move your Dropbox folder somewhere else first. Otherwise, Dropbox will ask if you want to merge any existing files with the new account.
You can move your Dropbox folder to any location on your hard drive via the Dropbox desktop application.
Once you have downloaded and installed the Dropbox desktop application, you will be given the chance during the setup wizard to choose where you want your Dropbox folder to reside. If you’ve already installed Dropbox on your computer and want to move your Dropbox folder to a new location, you can select the new location from the Dropbox desktop application preferences:
Using the Dropbox desktop application on Windows Vista or Windows 7
- Right-click on the Dropbox icon from your system tray
The Dropbox icon
- Select Preferences
- Change the Dropbox folder location by selecting Move…
- Select the new location for your Dropbox folder
- Let Dropbox move your folder and its contents to its new location.
Important: your folder will still be named My Dropbox. Dropbox will not sync your Dropbox folder if it has been manually renamed or moved through your operating system. If Dropbox loses track of your Dropbox folder, it will attempt to re-sync the folder in its entirety using its last known location.
Step 2 – New Windows User Account
In order to connect to a second Dropbox account, you will need to link to Dropbox through a different Windows user account. Create a new Windows User. The user doesn’t need to be an administrator. I’m assuming that you have rudimentary Windows knowledge and can create users and have administrative privileges on your computer systems. If not, you’ll need to get someone to help you with this. Get an aforementioned friend. If you don’t have any friends, you are probably an advanced computer hacker. 😉
NOTE: I am on an enterprise computer where my computer is named CS10SWO. My main username actually logs in through a network domain (named “NA”), but this is not taken into account for usernames, so make sure you create a unique username and don’t use your domain if the situation applies. If you’re on a home computer, you can ignore this.
I created a user named “Steph” that was just a User.
- Log Out from your main account
- Log In to your new account
- Open a browser and go to www.dropbox.com
- Download and install the sofwtare
- If your new Windows account is only a user, you will need to user your administrative login username and password to install the software
- You will have to log in to your created Dropbox account during this process. Make sure you have already created an account using the REFERRAL LINK I gave you. Get free storage. I need it. You need it.
- Change the location of the Dropbox folder. I put mine in C:\Business\ instead of the default C:\Users\Documents. Make the change when you get to this screen:
- Log out of your new user
- Log back in to your main user account
Step 3 – Connecting as a different user
Now you get to see the reason you had to sign in and install Dropbox as a different Windows user. Your main Windows account is connected to your main Dropbox account. You must now connect to your secondary (or third or fourth) Dropbox account using the secondary Windows user account username and password. We’re going to create a batch file to do this.
- Open Notepad and enter the following:
runas /user:username/savecred dropbox.exe
- Substitute your username for username. When I created my Windows user account, the username was steph. Here’s my file:
runas /user:steph /savecred dropbox.exe
NOTE: I am on an enterprise computer where my computer is named CS10SWO. My main username actually logs in through a network domain, but this is not taken into account for usernames, so make sure you create a unique username and don’t use your domain if the situation applies. If you’re on a home computer, you can ignore this.
- Save the file to your desktop as dropboxOpen.bat.
- Right-click on the file and Run as Administrator
- A Black Command Prompt Dialog Box will Open. It will look similar to this. I’ll improve this image later:
- You will be prompted to enter the password for your alternate Windows User account. Type that in and press the Enter key.
- You will now have a new instance of Dropbox in your system tray, indicating that you are now connected to two different Dropbox accounts. 🙂
Step 4 – Make your shortcut
You can now access your My Dropbox folder as if it were any other folder. Navigate to C:\Business\My Dropbox and view your files or go to C:\Business and right-click on My Dropbox to create a shortcut on your desktop. I put it in my Rocketdock like so:
If you’re not familiar with Rocketdock, it’s a nice Windows desktop dock you can add to Windows to give it the feel and functionality of a Mac. When I get time, I’ll do a tutorial on my Rainmeter desktop CMS, my Rocketdock desktop dock, and the Stacks Docklet Add-On I’m using.
If you use Dropbox for both personal and business use, you may run into your size limit. This article discusses how to use two different Dropbox accounts on one computer.