I love Dropbox. We’ve finally got rid of the file servers in the corner and rely on the Dropbox service for all our internal storage, backup and mirroring to other servers. recently we’ve started building web applications that can be dynamically updated by just copying files into a Dropbox share – and our clients love it! Key to this is getting Dropbox set up as a service on the remote server.

What you need: Windows Server 2003 Resource Kit. Assuming installation was done in default directory.

1. Install Dropbox (I used version 1.2.52)
2. Choose preferences and uncheck “Show desktop notifications” and “Start Dropbox on system startup”
3. Exit Dropbox by clicking exit in the context menu that shows when right clicking icon in task bar
4. Execute at command line prompt:

C:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Resource Kits\Tools>instsrv Dropbox “c:\Program Files (x86)\Windows Resource Kits\Tools\srvany.exe”

If everything went ok, the following will be displayed:

The service was successfuly added!

Make sure that you go into the Control Panel and use
the Services applet to change the Account Name and
Password that this newly installed service will use
for its Security Context.

Next is to change the user for witch the newly added service “Dropbox” runs under. Change this to Administrator.
5. Choose properties on Dropbox service.
6. Click on tab “Log On”
7. Click “This account”, and select Admimistrator. Set appropriate password.
8. Click Apply and OK

If this is the first time you have done this procedure for the administrator user, you will get an notification saying that the “Administrator user has been granted log on as service rights”

Next is to setup some registry settings for the service
9. Start > Run > regedit
10. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Dropbox
11. Create a new key “Parameters”
12. Add a new string value “Application”, (type REG_SZ). Set the value to the path to the dropbox.exe binary. Find the location by right clicking on the Dropbox icon on the desktop. Simply copy the path from there.
13. Close Registry Editor
14. Go back to Services, and start the Dropbox service

Now everything should be in place and work correctly.

Addition: It works fine to stop the Dropbox service, then start Dropbox and make changes in preferences etc, save changes and exit Dropbox. Then you can start Dropbox service again without problems. Work very neat actually. Running now on Windows Server 2003 and Windows Server 2008 64-bit. On Windows Server 2008 you can just copy instsrv.exe and srvany.exe to a folder under Program Files and create the Dropbox service from there.

4 comments on “Set up Dropbox as a Service

  • Thanks for the useful posting.

    I had already done this ages ago and forgotten quite what I did! I would like to stop the service to run Dropbox UI – are there any circumstances you can think of where this wouldn’t work properly eg running Dropbox from the wrong place or pointing it to a wrong directory (if that’s possible). Haven’t quite got to grips with the nitty gritty of how Dropbox actually works.


    • It always appears to work, and I always put Dropbox on the root of the drive, rather than in user folders. It does seem to have problems with larger drop boxes with hundreds of thousands of files though.

  • Hello, I had done this before but didn’t run the intsrv command. What repercussions will this have.

    Also, I am curious if this will work seamlessly if all server users save to this folder. Assuming it is installed on the root of the drive than on a user folder. Any input would be greatly appreciated. thank you!

  • Hey DCC Accounting – if you put it in the root folder and the server is on the domain, then I assume the files and folders put into dropbox inherit the permissions of the user who put the files in there. Have you actually tried it? Do the permissions get removed when a file is put on Dropbox on the server (as part of a domain)?

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