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Dropbox Not Syncing – How To Fix

Posted by Jamie on August 2, 2018

Dropbox is an incredibly convenient file-sharing service that allows you to keep copies of your files in the cloud, enabling you to work and play from anywhere. Whether it’s spreadsheets for work, homework assignments, programming projects, or even movies and music, Dropbox gives you great storage at a very reasonable price. With a free account you can keep 2 GB in the cloud, and a personal account gives you 1 TB of storage and access to advanced features like device reset for just $9.99/month. Unfortunately, however, Dropbox does have one flaw: sometimes the synchronization mechanism which makes sure that your local files and cloud files are both the same and up-to-date fails, and your cloud files just won’t sync up with the computer. A minor but annoying problem. This article will walk you through the process of fixing this Dropbox issue and getting your files properly synced up.

When your files just don’t seem to be syncing, it can be very frustrating. Fortunately, there are a few ways to find out what’s wrong.

How to fix the Dropbox not syncing issue2

Fixes for Dropbox not syncing

As with all troubleshooting, we will begin with the most basic checks and work towards the more complex. Perform each step in order and retest after each one. Then move on to the next only if the preceding step doesn’t fix the problem.

This tutorial assumes your computer and internet connection are working properly and that you have checked both.

Check the Dropbox process

The first order of business is to check that the Dropbox process is running on your computer. On Windows, this will be in the Taskbar, just click the up arrow to see the Dropbox icon. On Mac, it should show up in the menu bar or dock. I use a Windows computer so will troubleshoot using that. Mac users can adapt each step to suit your own system.

If you don’t see the Dropbox process in the taskbar:

  1. Check Task Manager in Windows for the Dropbox process.
  2. Right click the Windows Task bar and select Task Manager.
  3. Look for the Dropbox process in the list.
  4. If Dropbox is present, select it, right click and select End task.
  5. If Dropbox is not present or you have ended the task, restart it using the desktop icon or menu item.

Sometimes the Dropbox process hangs or gets interrupted. Starting or restarting the process should fix that. Give the file time to sync before moving on.

How to fix the Dropbox not syncing issue3

Check the file

A file is copied from the Dropbox folder on your computer to the Dropbox cloud servers. If the file is open in a computer application it will not be able to be copied. If synchronization has stalled for some reason, it will not upload completely. If the file is corrupt, it can occasionally cause issues with sync even though Dropbox is file type agnostic. (That is, it doesn’t care what type of files it is handling.)

  1. Hover your mouse over the Dropbox icon to check sync status. It should say 100%, syncing or error.
  2. Make sure the file you are trying to upload is not open anywhere on your computer.
  3. Check the filename of the file and make sure it doesn’t contain any special characters.
  4. Check that you can open it in an application. Then close that application.
  5. Delete the file from the Dropbox folder and then copy a new version across.

Sometimes it’s a little thing that gets in the way of the syncing process. Dropbox has an entire page dedicated to the reasons why it might not work, including characters its systems will not recognize. The link above takes you to the page describing those.

Disable Selective Sync

Selective Sync is a Dropbox feature that allows you to choose what files or folders you back up. It is easy to overlook it and accidentally enable it or place a file in a folder with Selective Sync enabled.

  1. Right click the Dropbox icon in the Windows task bar.
  2. Select Preferences and then Advanced.
  3. Select Selective Sync and make sure the folder containing the file is not selected.

Clear the Dropbox cache

To help manage network latency and preserve integrity, Dropbox caches data in order to facilitate uploads. Sometimes the cache becomes full or unreadable. Both can result in a file not syncing. Emptying the cache takes just a second.

  1. Open Windows Explorer and navigate to your Dropbox folder. This will usually be C:\Program Files\Dropbox or something similar depending on what version of the app you’re using.
  2. Find the .dropbox.cache folder within the Dropbox folder.
  3. Select all files within the cache folder and delete them.
  4. Confirm if required.

In the vast majority of cases, one of these steps will fix the Dropbox not syncing issue. Got any other ways to fix file syncing? Tell us about them below!

One thought on “Dropbox Not Syncing – How To Fix”

Jim Harrison says:
I have put some large video files that play and work find in my drop box folder. Files under 2 GB will sync, files over 2GB will not sync. My current status is 2.35 GB used out of 1 TB, so I have plenty of space. I have tried normal and selective sync. I am using Windows 7. Everything else is working fine and I have tried all of the trouble shooting steps.
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