Files are different or no longer updating—troubleshoot sync issues

Do your files look different between your computer, tablet, phone, or dropbox.com? Is the sync function failing to complete?

You're most likely experiencing a syncing issue.

Fixes for sync issues can range from easy to complex, but any solution will require you to take some action. This step-by-step article will walk you through troubleshooting steps, and will solve the majority of syncing problems.

  1. Verify that Dropbox is installed on all of your devices, and that you're online.
  2. Fix: If you do not see the tray icon, you do not have Dropbox installed on your computer. You should reinstall the Dropbox desktop application.

    Fix: If the Desktop icon is grey, then you are not currently connected to the internet.

    If you've verified that Dropbox is installed on all of your devices, and that you're online, move on to step 2.


  3. Verify that your files are not synced.
    • Files with a red X are not synced; files with a circular blue arrow are in the process of syncing, and files with a green check mark should be fully synced
    • Note: The icons that can appear on individual files in your Dropbox are different than the icons that tell you about the current state of Dropbox itself. Learn more about the different icons that can appear on your files.
  4. Fix: Learn why your Dropbox may have a red X.

    If you've verified that the files in question are not displaying one of the sync icons described above, move on to step 3.


  5. Verify that you're a member of all shared folders.
    • If the files that aren't syncing with another user are in a shared folder, verify that you're a member of the folder
  6. Fix: If you think you may be missing a shared folder, you can check the list of folders that can be re-added to your Dropbox.

    If you've verified that you're a member of all shared folders, move on to step 4.


  7. Verify that you're signed in to the same Dropbox account on all of your devices.
    • On a computer: click the Dropbox icon in the menu bar or system tray, and then click the gear icon. Next click Preferences, and then Account
    • On iOS: open the Dropbox app and tap Settings
    • On Android: open the Dropbox app, tap Menu, and then tap Settings
    • On dropbox.com: click your name in the top right corner
  8. Fix: If the addresses are different (look carefully for typos), then you have multiple accounts and your devices will not sync. Follow these steps to link a computer and other devices to your Dropbox.

    If the addresses are the same, move on to step 5.


  9. Restart your computer.
  10. If your files have not synced after restarting, move on to step 6.


  11. Quit the Dropbox desktop app and relaunch it.
    1. Click the Dropbox icon in the menu bar or system tray, and then click the gear icon.
    2. Click Quit Dropbox.
    3. Open your applications menu, re-launch Dropbox, and then sign in again (if necessary).
  12. If your files have not synced after relaunching the desktop app, move on to step 7.


  13. Unlink and re-link your computer.
    1. From the desktop app on your computer, click the Dropbox icon on your system tray or menu bar.
    2. Click the gear icon and select Preferences...
    3. Select the Account tab.
    4. Click Unlink This Dropbox...
    5. To relink your computer, open the Desktop application by clicking the Dropbox tray icon and signing-in.
  14. If your files have not synced after re-linking your computer, move on to step 8.


  15. Verify that you haven't turned on Selective Sync.
    1. Click the Dropbox icon on your system tray or menu bar.
    2. Click the gear icon and select Preferences...
    3. Select the Account tab.
    4. Click Change Settings...
    5. Do you see your folder? Be sure to check that its name exactly matches the name on dropbox.com. Does it have a blue checkmark next to it, or a different icon?
    6. If the box beside your folder has anything other than a blue checkmark, you may be experiencing a Selective Sync conflict.
  16. Fix: Learn how to troubleshoot and resolve Selective Sync conflicts.

    If your files are not affected by a Selective Sync conflict, move on to step 9.


  17. Verify that your device and your Dropbox account have enough available space to sync.
    • To verify that your computer has enough hard drive space to sync with your Dropbox:

Mac

  1. Select the Apple menu, and then click About this Mac.
  2. Click More info.
  3. Click Storage.

Windows

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Click the hard disk you'd like to check.
  3. The available space will appear in the Details panel.
  • To verify that your Dropbox has enough space:

Mac

  • Right-click the main Dropbox folder in the finder and then click Get info

Windows

  • Right-click the main Dropbox folder and then click Properties

Note: On dropbox.com, sign in, click your name, click Settings, and then select your account (if you have linked more than one).

Fix: Delete files as necessary, or enable Selective Sync.

If you've verified that both your device and your Dropbox account have enough available space, move on to step 10.

  1. Clear the Dropbox cache. Fix: To clear the cache:
    • Dropbox keeps a cache of files hidden in your Dropbox for efficiency and for emergency purposes. Clearing this cache can free up space in your hard drive.
    1. Stop Dropbox by clicking the Dropbox icon in the system tray or menu bar, and then select Quit, Stop, or Exit.
    2. Carefully follow these instructions. Dropbox Business users, be sure to use the steps under "Dropbox Business users" when reading the article.
    3. Restart Dropbox: on a Mac, find Dropbox in the Applications folder; on a PC, find Dropbox in the Programs menu.
  2. Note: This will not affect or remove the files in your Dropbox folder.

    If your files have not synced after clearing the cache, move on to step 11.


  3. Check your file path names.
    • Files with the following characters in the titles are incompatible with all operating systems
      • / (forward slash)
      • \ (back slash)
    • Files with the following characters in the titles are incompatible with Windows:
      • < (less than)
      • > (greater than)
      • : (colon)
      • " (quotation mark)
      • | (pipe stem)
      • ? (question mark)
      • * (asterisk)
    • Certain language-specific characters will not work on some operating systems.
    • Macs, Windows computers, and Excel spreadsheets have specific file-name characters limits.
    • Dropbox is not case sensitive on either Windows or Mac OS X. When Dropbox tries to write a file, it uses the lowercase version of the path/file name. However with "İ" there are no case insensitive equivalents and so these files cannot be synced.
  4. Fix: Use the tool below to search your Dropbox account for bad file names and make changes as needed:

    If you've verified that your missing files do not have incompatible names, move on to step 12.


  5. Verify that antivirus or security software is not interfering with the file sync.
    • The Dropbox desktop client uses the ".dropbox.cache" folder as a staging area to download your files in small chunks. Sometimes antivirus programs will pick up these partial files as false positives and continuously quarantine them. Dropbox will then continually download the file in an attempt to sync it to your device, which can use extra space.
  6. Fix: Add the Dropbox cache folder to an ignore list on your security/antivirus software. You can also temporarily disable this software. Once synced, you should no longer see these warnings or quarantine messages.

    Note: Unlike other folders in Dropbox, the ".dropbox.cache" folder should have a red X on it—this folder does not need to sync.

    If you've verified that antivirus or security software is not interfering with your sync process, move on to step 13.


  7. Verify that you're not trying to sync too many files.
    • The performance of the Dropbox application can decline if you have more than 300,000 files. This is a soft limit and depends highly on the hardware specifications of the computer running the Dropbox application. Some customers are able to have more files without issue. As a hard rule, we recommend never having more than 1 million files on any single computer. This limit is related to the number of files, not to their size.
    • Note: Dropbox accounts with a large number of files may take longer to sync. A delay in syncing or a prolonged sync is not necessarily a sign of a problem.
  8. Fix: You can use Selective Sync to select only certain files to sync to your computer, but still have them on dropbox.com and on other computers.

    Fix: You may be able to help Dropbox sync faster by adjusting your bandwidth settings.

If you've tried each of the fixes in this article, and still find that your files or devices still aren't syncing, please contact us. (Select the Desktop option so your ticket is properly routed.)

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