1. Sharing files and folders
  2. Payments and billing
  3. Security and privacy
  4. Dropbox Business
  5. Syncing and uploads
  6. Sign-in help
  7. Desktop app and dropbox.com
  8. Manage account
  9. Space and storage
  10. Photos and videos
  11. Mobile
  12. Dropbox Paper

File sync is slow, or taking too long to complete

To ensure your files sync correctly, check to see if your computers or mobile devices are connected to the Internet and are linked to the same Dropbox account. If both of these are true, see further troubleshooting below.

Dropbox is syncing slowly—why, and what can I do about it?

Dropbox is smart about using bandwidth. It will only use as much as it can without interfering with your normal Internet usage.

Dropbox automatically throttles itself to 75% of your maximum upload speed to prevent any noticeable slowdown in browsing. Downloads are performed at the fastest download speed available.

To change Dropbox's bandwidth settings, follow these steps:

On Mac OS X

  1. Click on the Dropbox icon from the menu bar.
  2. Click on the gear icon and select Preferences... from the menu.

    The Dropbox icon on the menu bar
  3. Click on Network.
  4. Next to Bandwidth click the Change Settings... button.
  5. You can manually adjust the bandwidth settings by selecting the radio button next to Limit to under the Download rate or Upload rate sections, and entering the rates you prefer in the fields provided. Rates are set in kilobytes per second. If you want the fastest rate possible, select the radio button next to Don't limit.

Note: Setting your Upload rate to Don't limit or a higher number than your connection is capable of will probably cause all your other Internet activity to slow down significantly.

Dropbox Business users: If you are signed in to both your personal and work Dropboxes on your computer, the network preferences will apply across both.

On Linux

  1. Right-click on the Dropbox icon from your system tray and choose Preferences... from the menu.

    The Dropbox icon on the system tray
  2. Click on Bandwidth.
  3. You can manually adjust the bandwidth settings by selecting the radio button next to Limit to under the Download rate or Upload rate sections, and entering the rates you prefer in the fields provided. Rates are set in kilobytes per second. If you want the fastest rate possible, select the radio button next to Don't limit.

Note: Setting your Upload rate to Don't limit or a higher number than your connection is capable of will probably cause all your other Internet activity to slow down significantly.

On Windows 7

  1. Click on the Dropbox icon from your system tray. You may need to click on the arrow to show all system tray icons.

    The Dropbox icon on the system tray
  2. Click on the gear icon and select Preferences... from the menu.
  3. Click on Bandwidth.
  4. You can manually adjust the bandwidth settings by selecting the radio button next to Limit to under the Download rate or Upload rate sections, and entering the rates you prefer in the fields provided. Rates are set in kilobytes per second. If you want the fastest rate possible, select the radio button next to Don't limit.

Note: Setting your Upload rate to Don't limit or a higher number than your connection is capable of will probably cause all your other Internet activity to slow down significantly.

Dropbox Business users: If you are signed in to both your personal and work Dropboxes on your computer, the network preferences will apply across both.

What is a Selective Sync conflict, and what can I do about it?

Selective Sync is a feature that allows you to select only the folders you want to sync to your computer. However, a Selective Sync conflict can occur when you choose not to sync a folder to your computer in your Selective Sync preferences and then create a folder of the same name in the same location. For example, if you create a folder called "Taxes," then uncheck "Taxes" in your Selective Sync preferences, this will stop "Taxes" from syncing to the Dropbox folder on your computer. If you then create a new folder called "Taxes" in the same location in Dropbox, it will appear with a gray minus sign, and Dropbox will not sync that folder.

Selective sync conflict

If you re-check the original "Taxes" (in your Selective Sync preferences) to resume syncing to your computer along with the new "Taxes," the name of the "Taxes" folder with the minus sign will be appended with "(Selective Sync Conflict)." Both folders will sync to your account online.

Selective sync conflict
Selective Sync conflict

How to get rid of a folder with a gray minus sign

  1. Move any files you need from the folder with the gray minus sign to another folder in Dropbox.
  2. Delete the folder with the gray minus sign.
  3. Change your Selective Sync preferences to allow the original folder to sync to your Dropbox folder.

How to get rid of a "Selective Sync conflict" folder

  1. Move any files you need from the "Selective Sync conflict" folder to the original folder.
  2. Delete the conflicted folder.

Dropbox is showing errors or failing to open—why, and what can I do about it?

If your Dropbox desktop installation experiences any of the following behavior, your Dropbox installation may be inaccessible or corrupted:

  • Dropbox closes as soon as it opens.
  • Dropbox fails to open and reports an error message. (If the error message is "OperationalError" or "BrokenTempDirError," fix the permissions for your %TEMP% folder.)
  • Dropbox is not syncing and reports that you're running an old version of the application.
  • The Dropbox system tray/menu bar icon is endlessly syncing (as indicated by spinning arrows on a blue icon), but not making any progress.
  • The syncing status in your Dropbox menu says "Permission denied" or "Rejected by Server."
  • The Dropbox contextual menu is missing.
  • Syncing icons do not appear correctly.

If Dropbox appears to sync files quickly at first, but then appears to be stuck at the last moment, it's possible your antivirus or system optimization application is interfering with the Dropbox application. This is a known issue with antivirus applications such as:

If this happens to you, consider adding Dropbox to your application's whitelist or try disabling your antivirus application and restarting the Dropbox application.

TuneUp Utilities (Windows) is also known to optimize your computer by uninstalling Dropbox. If you're running TuneUp, try disabling the application and reinstalling the Dropbox application. You can report the issue with Tuneup using their online web form.

If you're not running an antivirus application or are sure it's not interfering with Dropbox, your Dropbox settings may be inaccessible. If your settings are corrupted, one way to reset them is by unlinking and then relinking your computer to your Dropbox account. Don't worry, the files in your Dropbox folder will remain untouched.

If unlinking and relinking your account doesn't solve the issue, your settings may be protected or inaccessible due to a permissions problem. If this is the case, you can remove your settings by hand using an administrative account. Here's how:

On Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8

  1. Quit Dropbox by clicking on the Dropbox icon in the system tray, clicking the gear icon in the notifications panel, and selecting Exit Dropbox from the menu.
  2. Press the Windows Key + R (at the same time), then type cmd and press Enter to open the command prompt.
  3. Copy and paste the following lines into the command prompt, one at a time, and press Enter after each one. Please make sure you copy and paste these commands (don't type them by hand), as getting them wrong could cause some harm. Also, you can only paste them by right-clicking and selecting Paste.
    icacls "%HOMEPATH%\Dropbox" /grant "%USERNAME%":(F) /T
    icacls "%APPDATA%\Dropbox" /grant "%USERNAME%":(F) /T

    If the location of Dropbox folder is not C:\Users\YourUser\Dropbox path, please modify the first command to point to it. For example, if your Dropbox is in D:\Dropbox, the command would look as follows:
    icacls "D:\Dropbox" /grant "%USERNAME%":(F) /T
    			

    The other commands should remain unchanged. Please note that, depending on the size of your Dropbox, this operation might take some time to complete, so wait for the C:\ prompt to appear again.
  4. Restart Dropbox by going to the Start menu and selecting Program Files, then Dropbox.

On Mac OS X

  1. Quit Dropbox by clicking on the Dropbox icon from the menu bar, clicking on the gear icon, and selecting Quit Dropbox from the pop-up menu.
  2. Open your Terminal app (located at /Applications/Utilities/Terminal).
  3. Copy and paste the following lines into the Terminal, one at a time, and press Return after each one. Please make sure you copy and paste these commands (don't type them by hand), as getting them wrong could cause some harm. You'll be prompted for your computer user's password (not your Dropbox password) after entering the first command. Keep in mind that the password field in the terminal will remain blank as you type your password. After you type it, just press Return.
    sudo chflags -R nouchg ~/Dropbox ~/.dropbox ~/.dropbox-master
    sudo chown "$USER" "$HOME"
    sudo chown -R "$USER" ~/Dropbox ~/.dropbox
    sudo chmod -RN ~/.dropbox ~/Dropbox
    chmod -R u+rw ~/Dropbox ~/.dropbox 

    If the location of your Dropbox folder is not ~/Dropbox, make sure you modify all the commands above to point to the correct location.
  4. Restart Dropbox. Dropbox is located in your Applications folder.

On Linux

  1. Quit Dropbox by right-clicking on the Dropbox menu from the menu bar and selecting Quit
  2. Open a terminal window and copy and paste the following line into the terminal (exactly as written below):
    sudo chown "$USER" "$HOME"
    sudo chown -R "$USER" ~/Dropbox ~/.dropbox
    sudo chattr -R -i ~/Dropbox
    sudo chmod -R u+rw ~/Dropbox ~/.dropbox

    If your Dropbox folder is not ~/Dropbox, make sure you modify all the commands above to point to the correct location.
  3. Restart Dropbox by going to the Internet menu under Applications.

I'm connected to the Internet and signed in to the same account on my devices, but files aren't syncing—are there issues with the files?

If you're seeing an issue with a file, and you've already checked that your computers are connected to the Internet and are linked to the same Dropbox account, the file may have an issue that prevents Dropbox from syncing.

Operating systems don't always play nicely with one another. The Dropbox desktop application tracks these inconsistencies and will try its best to resolve the problem gracefully. When it can't, the file will still sync to the website, but it may not appear or work properly on incompatible operating systems.

To see which of your files may cause syncing problems, log in to the Dropbox website and use the Dropbox bad files check tool.

General File Type Guidelines

To ensure your files and folders sync correctly on other operating systems, try to follow these guidelines:

Incompatible characters for all operating systems

Don't name your files with the following characters, as Dropbox will not sync them on any platform:

  • / (forward slash)
  • \ (backslash)

Incompatible characters with Windows

When naming your files, avoid characters incompatible with the Windows file system:

  • < (less than)
  • > (greater than)
  • : (colon)
  • " (double quote)
  • | (vertical bar or pipe)
  • ? (question mark)
  • * (asterisk)

Ignored file types

Some small system files aren't synced over Dropbox. These include:

  • desktop.ini
  • thumbs.db
  • .ds_store
  • icon\r
  • .dropbox
  • .dropbox.attr

Max character length

Windows only allows file and folder names of 260 characters or less. On top of this limit, certain applications—such as Microsoft Excel—have shorter limits (218 characters).

Note that Windows counts the file path as part of the name, so the sample file path below would be 142 characters, not 16:

C:\Users\Panda\My Documents\Dropbox\Creative Nonfiction\My Autobiography\Favorite Things\Favorite Foods\Bamboo\Family Recipes\Fresh Leaves.doc

Versions 3.0 and higher of the Dropbox desktop application are able to read and write to locations that are longer than 260 characters long without problems. However, some applications might still be subject to the Operating System limits and may have problems accessing files that are in long paths.

For example, if you have an Excel 2010 file in a path that is 260 characters long, Dropbox will sync it to your computer but when you try to open it Excel will show an error message like "File Cannot be accessed". You can read more about Office and Microsoft path limitations on their Help Center. In general, all you need to do to open those files is to shorten the name or move the file or folder to a higher-level folder.

Case conflicts

Most Linux installations allow you to have two files or folders with the same name but different capitalization. However, by default, Mac and Windows won't differentiate file or folder names by case. Therefore, if Dropbox comes across linux directories named "Sample folder" and "sample folder" (lowercase "s"), it will still sync both folders to Mac and Windows computers, but one will appear as a copy of the original file and appended with case conflict.

Beginning characters on Mac and Linux

Files or folders that begin with a period (such as .myfile.doc or .myfolder) will sync properly and actually be in the Dropbox folder on your computer. However, Mac and Linux operating systems will regard them as system files and hide them automatically. You won’t be able to see them without modifying advanced settings on your computer. It's best to go to your Dropbox on the website and rename the files or folders to something else (such as _myfolder).

Trailing characters

Files and folders that end with periods (.) won't sync properly between operating systems. If a file ends in a period, like file.txt., the file won't sync and it will appear in bad files check.

Trailing spaces in file and folder names are stripped in order to sync properly with other operating systems. If Dropbox finds a file in your Dropbox folder with the same name but different only in white space (or the character created by pressing the space bar), it will add the file to your Dropbox folder and append the file name with white space conflict.

Temporary files

When some applications (such as Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint) open a file, they will often save a temporary file in the same directory and name it in one of the following ways:

  • Name begins with ~$ (a tilde and dollar sign) or .~ (a period and tilde)
  • Name begins with a tilde and ends in .tmp, such as ~myfile.tmp

Dropbox does not sync these temporary files on any operating system.

Unicode encoding conflicts

In some instances, there are several ways to create the same character on your keyboard. Although the characters may look the same, they are not the same to operating systems and Dropbox. When Dropbox notices these encoding conflicts, it will create a conflicted copy of the file and save it in the same folder appended with Unicode Encoding Conflict.

Metadata and resource forks

Avoid syncing files that use metadata (or resource forks), including Mac aliases or Windows shortcuts. These types of files typically only work on the operating systems they were created on.

Junction points and aliases

Dropbox will follow Windows junction points (Windows Vista or later) and sync the files or folders they link to. However, any changes to those files or folders made from the Windows operating system will not sync again until the Dropbox desktop application is restarted. To get around this, move the original folder to your Dropbox and add a junction point from its previous location to link to its new location in the Dropbox folder.

A warning regarding metadata and FAT32 drives

Some documents have file attributes, or xattrs, in data attached to the file. We call this data metadata. Operating systems use metadata for many different ways: storing the icon, labeling your documents, attaching information to the file, permissions, and so on. Dropbox supports xattrs on all platforms. However, thumb drives and portable drives that use the FAT32 file system do not support metadata. If your Dropbox folder is on a FAT32 drive, unfortunately it is impossible to retain metadata when the file is moved or renamed.

Monitoring more than 10000 folders on Linux

The Linux version of the Dropbox desktop application is limited from monitoring more than 10000 folders by default. Anything over that is not watched and, therefore, ignored when syncing. There's an easy fix for this. Open a terminal and enter the following:

echo fs.inotify.max_user_watches=100000 | sudo tee -a /etc/sysctl.conf; sudo sysctl -p

This command will tell your system to watch up to 100000 folders. Once the command is entered and you enter your password, Dropbox will immediately resume syncing.

Turning on extended attribute (xattr) support in Linux

Some Linux distributions have extended attributes (xattrs) turned off by default. If you're running a Linux distribution with an ext3 or ext4 file system, it's possible to turn on xattr support, typically through your /etc/fstab settings file. Please refer to your Linux distribution's documentation for instructions.