Dropbox Not Syncing – How To Fix

Posted by Jamie on May 23, 2019

Dropbox is an incredibly convenient file-sharing, cloud storage, and file backup service that allows you to backup copies of your files in the cloud, enabling you to work and play from anywhere on any of your devices.

Whether it’s spreadsheets for work, homework assignments, programming projects, photos, or even movies and music, Dropbox gives you great cloud file storage and sharing at a very reasonable price. Dropbox enables you to back up your files so that if your hard drive crashes you can recover your data.

With a free account, you can keep 2 GB of files in the cloud, and a personal account gives you 1 TB of file 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, especially if you are using Dropbox to collaborate with other people or if you work on the same files from multiple devices.

This article will walk you through the process of fixing this Dropbox issue and getting your files properly synced up so that you always have the latest version of your important files saved on the cloud so you can use them from anywhere on any device.

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 with Dropbox.

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 both working properly. It’s common for Internet connectivity problems to be the root cause of Dropbox not synching.

Start or restart the Dropbox application

The first order of business is to check that the Dropbox process (i.e., the Dropbox program) itself is running on your computer. On Windows, this will be in the Taskbar, just click the up arrow to see the Dropbox icon. On a Mac, the Dropbox process should show up in the menu bar or dock. The goal here is to start the Dropbox process if it’s not started and restart Dropbox if the process is already running.

It’s very possible that the Dropbox process isn’t running, has frozen up, or just isn’t responding. In many cases, simply starting or restarting Dropbox is sufficient to fix the syncing issue.

If you don’t see the Dropbox process in the taskbar here’s how to start or restart Dropbox on Windows:

  1. Check Task Manager in Windows for the Dropbox process
  2. Right-click the Windows Taskbar 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 Dropbox 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 files time to sync up 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 to make sure it the file name does not contain any special characters such as &, ?, %, #, or $.
  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 taskbar.
  2. Select Preferences and then Advanced.
  3. Then choose 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.

If you found this article useful in solving the Dropbox file syncing issue, then you might find this article useful as well: Does Dropbox Notify You when Someone Downloads a File?

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 or other Dropbox problems you have encountered? Tell us about them in the comments below!

3 thoughts on “Dropbox Not Syncing – How To Fix”

Jenny says:
These instructions are not working for me for a couple of reasons. 1. When I go to selective synch and try to untick the folder as you suggest, it tells me it will delete the folder from my computer. That’s not what I want to do. 2. I can’t find a Dropbox “cache” folder. My synching was working perfectly until recently, and now just won’t work. On my computer it says it is synched but when I go onto the internet, the changes the document just aren’t there. I have to manually upload it to get the changes into the cloud. I just can’t figure out why the changes won’t synch. Two things have changed for me recently and I wonder if it is one of these. 1. My ISP had to reset my NBN profile (Australia) because of a problem, so I have a new ISP address, and 2. I had two Dropbox accounts and I closed one of them. But I have only been accessing Dropbox via the the one I have kept for some time (that’s why I deleted the other one).
Erin Moore says:
I’m having the same issue. Were you able to find a solution?
Jenny says:
Hi Erin, sorry, but I’m not sure I can help much. It just somehow synched itself up again, and I don’t really know how.
Deb Maxeiner says:
I have a Samsung Galaxy camera that has stopped synicing with Drobox. When I try to log in it tells me invalid email address. But this is the same set up as on my computer and it works. Is it a camera problem?
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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Disclaimer: Some pages on this site may include an affiliate link. This does not effect our editorial in any way.