Anyone found workaround for using Dropbox / Google Drive on an External Hard Drive?

For context, Apple are depreciating the kernel extensions that allowed you to select where the locally downloaded Dropbox and Google Drive files lived. You can no longer put them on a larger external hard drive rather than your local drive, for example. This is because they are moving over to the File Provider API which does not allow for this.

Technically, the old kernels are still working right now, but could be completely unusable/unstable in the next big MacOS upgrade. Google Drive, OneDrive and others has completely moved over to File Provider now, and if you are running Dropbox and already had your storage set to an external drive, as long as you don’t mess with storage settings, it continues to let you work via the old kernel rather than File Provider it seems. Someone I work with is in that position.

I work with large video files that take up more space than my 1TB internal hard drive. I recently bought an M1 Max MacBook Pro that I hoped would last me 5-6 years and I can’t afford to buy a Mac with 8TB internal storage with specs I would need.

Does anyone have any good solutions for this problem? Given my work, this is mission critical for me. With the new MacOS Sonoma being released this autumn, I feel like I am running out of time and options other than switching to Windows when the whole thing breaks. (I have never used Windows in my life and consider myself a Mac Power User, so this does feel cataclysmic lol).

I have been trailing Insync as a possible solution but I have not been able to identify if InSync is just using the same depreciated kernels that the cloud storage providers are moving away from or if they have a future proof solution.

Any suggestions welcome!

Do you really need all of those files in Dropbox?

I use external drives as extra storage (I have about 8TB of files), I back them up with Backblaze and Time Machine.

Maybe you can just put files you want to share on Dropbox

1 Like

My Google Drive is running just fine on an external drive w/ Sonoma dev beta. Are you saying this is going to just stop working soon?

1 Like

If Sonoma breaks our ability to sync to external drives I won’t upgrade. And if/when a patch breaks Ventura I’ll switch to a Windows computer. My main computer is an iPad Pro and I don’t rely on any Apple only software/service.

Do you have enough internal storage to handle your work in progress? Do you have everything backed up both locally and offsite? If so, have you considered streaming your files as needed and using something like Panic’s Transmit to automate your uploads?

You would need to tailor your workflow to make sure everything is backed up before you upload it to Google Drive but it seems you should be able to continue with your current equipment should the worst happen.

Automating Syncs with Automator in Transmit 5 - YouTube

As a reminder, a backup system keeps backup copies of files after they are deleted/lost. A sync service will sync the deletion/lost of the file. That is why we are often reminded to never consider file sync services as backups. If you need to sync your files across multiple systems and/or share them with others, then a sync service is the correct tool for the job. However, if you want to keep a backup of the files, then use a backup system (like Backblaze, Time Machine, etc.) not a sync service.

Presumably, Apple considers sync systems as applying to your current working files, which would normally be on the local file system. Therefore, for the vast majority of users, a sync system which is “properly” used would not be negatively affected by this change. However, not everyone fits the normal model so a third-party client may be needed for some users.

The third-party Dropbox client Maestral allows you to select any location for your files (and it even supports multiple Dropbox accounts, each at a different location). However, that still only applies to the local (internal) file system (mostly). As the documentation explains:

Network drives and some external hard drives are not fully supported as locations for the Dropbox folder because Maestral will not be notified of file changes in those locations. The same holds for distributed filesystems or other filesystems where inotify events may be disabled. In such cases, Maestral will only upload changes when it runs a full indexing of the local folder, for instance when resuming the sync.

So, if you are using an external hard drive in which inotify works, then Maestral should work for you. YMMV. If you are using a location in which inotify doesn’t work, then I doubt you will find any working solution for a sync service. And yes, that may mean you need to purchase different hardware.

1 Like

I use an external 2TB Crucial SSD to store all my data. Nothing goes on the internal drive. If you don’t need to collaborate this works great. I’ve found no slowdown using the external drive. It has a small footprint so I can put it in my pocket and plug it into a different computer and take up where I left off. I’ve not looked back since doing this. It allows me to purchase baseline macs and saves me a ton of money on cloud services.


so do you have a remote backup of this data?


Yes, daily backups to another external hard disk via carbon copy cloner


I do the same thing. A few years ago when I was trying to use iCloud I booted and ran my Intel Mac mini on an external Samsung SSD. I didn’t do any measurements but I didn’t notice any difference in speed.

Today I keep most of my files on an encrypted SSD and occasionally use it with my iPad Pro.


A lot of things to consider, depends on your goals and budget.

I’m in the same situation, using video and outgrowing a 4TB internal SSD, which was already a PITA because I use several Macs and only one of them has 4TB internal, the rest have 1TB.

First define the primary objective:

Fast and big working storage - need more than size of internal drive
Backup and archiving (local and/or cloud backup)
Collaboration with other people or systems (local and/or remote)

Original workflow:
Dropbox folder is primary working folder. Moving to any computer and the files were always available (syncing was in the background most of the time no delay or issue).

I developed an interrim workflow:
Using a fast USB-C external SSD for actual working storage.
I can physically unplug and move it rapidly between my three Macs (two desktops, one laptop)
Solves the problem of moving between systems.

For backup/archive, I have a large external drive (rotational not SSD, cost more important speed) always plugged into one Mac so Carbon Copy Cloner keeps a second local drive up to date and BackBlaze keeps a cloud copy.
Solves archiving/backup requirements

The only remaining issue is collaboration remotely. I am not yet doing this, but may be working with a remote editor in the future.
Consider various options, including video workflow specific collaboration/cloud services such as and others. (Primary benefit would be integrated proxy workflow for overlapping editing with uploading of full res originals, versus generic cloud services that have no knowledge of video editing workflow needs.)

If I was doing even more, I would consider a local NAS storage array with 10gbit Ethernet and consider editing directly off the NAS (it would be faster than local drive), and having backup/cloud archiving running in the background on the NAS unit. Elegent solution, but too expensive for the scale of what I am doing now (small to medium).

It depends which backup type you have. E.g. if you use Carbon Copy Cloner to backup to a single drive once a month, it won’t keep copies of deleted files. If you have 3 backup drives you rotate, you have a couple of months to restore.

Online services tend to have a grace period before deleted files are removed.

It will if you turn their Safety Net feature on!


Has anybody tried moving your home folder to an external? I saw it from a dropbox forum thread. It also seems like most people are moving from dropbox to

I moved my home folder to an external SSD on an Intel Mac mini a few years ago. Startup may have been a bit slower but otherwise it worked normally. YMMV.

After a while I decided to install OSX and my home directory on an external SSD and stopped using the internal drive altogether. Again everything worked normally.

I’ve never tried either on an Apple Silicon Mac