Synching Garmin Basecamp across multiple machines using Dropbox

  • Updated: August 08, 2012
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

As I've mentioned elsewhere I'm rather a fan of the Garmin Basecamp software. Since I've spent the last half decade or so working out of state and most trips "home" are just long enough to do laundry and grab my outdoor gear before running screaming out to the wilderness somewhere it's very useful to me to be able to access all my old GPS tracks and planning resources across multiple computers.

Basecamp is intended to work on a single machine but with a bit of trickery you can utilize Dropbox (or similar cloud services) to synch the database between multiple machines.

What you need:

(As far as I know you can't manage this between the Windows and OSX version.  For transferring between those I generally just export gpx files to another Dropbox folder)

So while Basecamp is a big improvement to the old MapSource application the thing you lost was control over where your information is stored.  While MapSource let you keep distinct files wherever you wanted Basecamp maintains a database in its application folder.

So, the trick is to use a cool Windows filesystem trick to make everything think the Garmin database is in one place while it's actually inside the Dropbox folder.

Copy Your Data

First you need to know where your BaseCamp database is located. Open explorer and browse to Windows 7 or 8:

Windows 10: 

Copy the BaseCamp folder to your DropFolder. For me I used
Windows 7 or 8:
C:\Users\<UserName>\Documents\My Dropbox\Maps\BaseCamp

Windows 10:

Create The Symbolic Link

Open an elevated command prompt by going to the Start Menu -> All Programs -> Accessories -> Command Prompt, right clicking, the selecting Run as Administrator.  You'll now get a popup asking if you want the following program to be able to make changes to the computer. Say yes.

You'll now be looking at a somewhat less than friendly window with the title Administrator: Command Prompt.

Type the following substituting in the paths you used when copying the data above

Windows 7 or 8:
mklink /D "C:\Users\<UserName>\AppData\Roaming\Garmin\BaseCamp" "C:\Users\<UserName>\Documents\My Dropbox\Maps\BaseCamp"

Windows 10:
mklink /D "C:\Users\<UserName>\AppData\Roaming\Garmin\BaseCamp" "C:\Users\<UserName>\Dropbox\Maps\BaseCamp"

You'll get a message back telling you that a symbolic link has been created.

What did I just do!?

Now when you browse to C:\Users\<UserName>\AppData\Roaming\Garmin\ you will notice the BaseCamp folder is back but the folder now has the shortcut indicator. When you open the folder it looks like you're browsing in to C:\Users\<UserName>\AppData\Roaming\Garmin\BaseCamp but the folder is actually located under the DropBox folder.

Now go to all your other machines and repeat the steps under Create The Symbolic Link. Please note that you'll have to install Basecamp, run it once, and then delete the resulting BaseCamp folder under AppData\Roaming\Garmin before running the mklink command. Once the link is created when you run Basecamp you should see your database.

I'm sure there's potentially some way for this to mess things up but I've yet to find it.  Just make sure to keep the application versions in synch in case they change the database or file structure.

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