Dropbox Not Syncing—How to Fix

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. Services like this make it incredibly easy to manage your important data across all of your devices.

Dropbox Not Syncing—How to Fix

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 you can recover your data if your hard drive crashes.

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 glaring flaw: sometimes, the synchronization mechanism, which makes sure that your local files and cloud files are both the same and up-to-date, fails. When this happens, your cloud files won’t sync up with the computer. This issue is a minor but annoying problem, primarily if you use Dropbox to collaborate with other people or work on existing files from multiple devices.

Credit: Dropbox.com

If you’re having this Dropbox issue, don’t worry. This article will walk you through the steps to solve the problem and get your files synced up correctly to always have the latest version in the cloud. You can then use them anywhere on any device.

When your files 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.

Fixes for Dropbox Not Syncing

How to fix the Dropbox not syncing issue2

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 solution only if the preceding step doesn’t fix the problem.

This tutorial assumes your computer and internet connection are both working correctly. It’s common for Internet connectivity problems to be the root cause of Dropbox not syncing. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some potential solutions for when your Dropbox isn’t syncing.

Start or Restart the Dropbox Application

The first order of business is to check that the Dropbox process (i.e., the Dropbox program) itself runs 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 run the Dropbox process if it’s not started and restart Dropbox if the process is already running.

It’s 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 has 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 Copying File in Dropbox

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 sync issues 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 to ensure it 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 simple thing that gets in the way of the syncing process. Dropbox has an entire page dedicated to 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 in Dropbox

Selective Sync is a Dropbox feature that allows you to choose what files or folders you back up. It is easy to overlook this setting 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.

It can be easy to enable this feature without realizing it. Fortunately, it’s super simple to check and disable by following the three steps listed above.

Clear the Dropbox Cache

To help manage network latency and preserve integrity, Dropbox caches data 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 location 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.

Hopefully, one of these methods was able to fix your Dropbox syncing issues. If not, it might be time to contact Dropbox customer service.

Final Thoughts

Dropbox is generally a handy and easy-to-use application. The ability to store and manage your files across multiple devices is an invaluable service, but it can be frustrating when your files don’t sync across your devices.

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!

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

11 thoughts on “Dropbox Not Syncing—How to Fix”

Roberto Soares says:
Hello I want to add ANOTHER SOLUTION: I had the same issue, and what I did was UNLINK my account and wait a few seconds for the pop up to come in order to login again. After you are signed in again, the files might upload normally.
Matthew John Lesnewski says:
Best work-around; nothing else worked. Thanks!
Jan Kleinnijenhuis says:
Dropbox suggestions on how to solve the not-syncing-anymore problem are completely inadequate: they don’t work, assumptions in their suggestions are mistaken (e.g. .dropbox.cache folder, as told by Jenny September 2nd 2019). Problem still unsolved.
Bob says:
I have had dropdox for years. I have the 2TB account with only about 500GB used. I have Windows 10 and store all off my dropbox files on the D: drive. Last week dropbox shows syncing all day long and it never stops. I clear the cashe and even reinstalled Windows 10.
Judy Weleminsky says:
i’ve tried hovering over the dropbox – it doesn’t show anything
Harry Babb says:
How easy is it when your first step fixes the problem!!! My system crashed about 3 weeks ago and wiped out the app when reload occured. Time machine doesn’t necessarily do a complete backup as I am learning. Thanks for the tip.
Diane Sunar says:
Ever since the “Dropbox badge” started showing up when a document is opened from Dropbox, files have not been syncing.
Theresa says:
Since I downloaded updAte 13.2.3 iOS
I can open Dropbox and all my resumes and documents are there. BUT when applying for jobs pressing attach resume it no longer shows my files in Dropbox to attach a resume. It’s connecting to Dropbox but my file aren’t there. Only when I open Dropbox on my phone. Thank you this is real puzzle
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.

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