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Dropbox's new magical placeholders save you hard drive space

Dropbox is previewing a new feature that will make owners of small laptop hard drives very happy. Codenamed Project Infinite, Dropbox is planning to enable desktop placeholders for files stored on the cloud storage service. If you’ve got 20GB of Dropbox storage then you’d typically sync that all to your desktop to get immediate access to your files, but Project Infinite will just produce shortcuts to your files that don’t use up any local storage space.

While files will look like they’re still stored locally, a cloud icon indicates they’re actually still stored on Dropbox’s servers. In a demo, Dropbox notes you can choose to sync specific files and folders to have them stored locally, and any remote files will be fetched immediately as soon as you attempt to open them. Project Infinite will work on Windows PCs and Macs.

It’s all very similar to a feature Microsoft used to have in OneDrive. Microsoft used placeholders to reduce local disk storage, but the company controversially axed the feature in Windows 10 —€” a move that disappointed Windows fans. Nextbit Robin also operates in a similar way, attempting to store data and apps in the cloud so they’re ready on demand. Dropbox is testing this new Project Infinite feature with “a select number of sponsor customers” right now, and the company isn’t saying exactly when everyone will have access to placeholders.


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