Expanding cloud use via Symbolic Links

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Today I’m putting up a bit more “techie” of a blog than I normally do.  But this feature is truly amazing for expanding your use of the cloud to applications not designed for cloud use.

The Problem: some applications are configured in a way that is not conducive to storing their configuration in your cloud drive.  

Example: WinSCP.net is a very useful secure and free file transfer protocol application.  But it stores the list of FTP sites in a WinSCP.ini file – that you can’t place anywhere – it sits in a specific local configuration directory.

The Solution: Using a “Symbolic Link” you can set up WinSCP to store its configuration file in your cloud drive – and thus share the same FTP site list on all your computers, with updates on any of them auto-synchronizing to all systems as well.

There is a really nice Windows Explorer Extension tool from an independent developer here: http://schinagl.priv.at/nt/hardlinkshellext/linkshellextension.html

With that installed, let’s take my WinSCP example.  So to link up WinSCP’s configuration to my Dropbox, all I have to do is:

  1. Physically move the “WinSCP.ini” file from its place in c:\Program Files (x86)\WinSCP to a place in my Dropbox folder.  
  2. Then I right-click on the file in my Dropbox folder and pick “Pick Link Source.”  
  3. Then I go back to the WinSCP program directory and right-click and pick “Drop As / Symbolic Link.”  

And POOF WinSCP is now cloud-enabled!  One tip: just be sure to close WinSCP after use, so it closes the file and allows it to copy cleanly up to your cloud.

You can do the same trick for any file or even full folders – so you could, for example, put your entire configuration directory for a video game in the cloud easy-peasy.

One interesting tidbit: I had trouble with both Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive when doing this strategy.  But Dropbox handles it like a champion.  See my Cloud Recommendations blog.