Evan X. Merz

musician / technologist / human being

How to make Dropbox ignore the node_modules folder

In this article I'm going to show you how to get Dropbox to ignore the node_modules folder.

Why code in a Dropbox folder?

I recently bought a new computer and experienced the pain of having to sync around 300Gb of files from one Windows machine to another. This was primarily due to the in-progress music projects on my computer.

So I decided that I would just work within my Dropbox folder on my new computer. In the past, I've spoken to colleagues who did this. They were mostly artists, and didn't use git.

What I didn't consider at the time, was that this would mean there would be multiple syncing mechanisms for my code. I would be sending the files both to Dropbox and Git.

Even worse, Dropbox locks files while it is working. So if you are running something like "npm install" or "npm update", those processes can fail because they can't work on a file at the same time as Dropbox.

I began experiencing these problems almost immediately, so I either had to find a way to ignore the node_modules folder in Dropbox or stop working on code within the Dropbox folder.

Dropbox ignore syntax

Fortunately, Dropbox gave us a way to ignore files or folders a few years ago. So for Windows users, the following command will ignore your node_modules folder. Please note that this needs to be done for every project, and that the command needs to be completed with your actual directory structure.

Set-Content -Path 'C:\Users\yourname\Dropbox\yourproject\node_modules' -Stream com.dropbox.ignored -Value 1