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.
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.
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
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:
- Check Task Manager in Windows for the Dropbox process.
- Right-click the Windows Taskbar and select Task Manager.
- Look for the Dropbox process in the list.
- If Dropbox is present, select it, right-click and select End task.
- 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.
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.)
- Hover your mouse over the Dropbox icon to check sync status. It should say 100%, syncing or error.
- Make sure the file you are trying to upload is not open anywhere on your computer.
- Check the filename to ensure it does not contain any special characters such as &, ?, %, #, or $.
- Check that you can open it in an application. Then close that application.
- 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.
- Right-click the Dropbox icon in the Windows taskbar.
- Select Preferences and then Advanced.
- 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.
- 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.
- Find the .dropbox.cache folder within the Dropbox folder.
- Select all files within the cache folder and delete them.
- 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.
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?