Dropbox is syncing slowly—what factors external to Dropbox impact sync speed?

Sync generally refers to making files available across all your devices and on the web. Depending on what devices and files you're working on, sync can involve both uploading and downloading data between Dropbox storage servers and your device. In short, sync is a complex process that we've worked hard to perfect.

If you're experiencing slow sync, you can visit this article to customize the bandwidth Dropbox can use on your device. This article will address factors outside of Dropbox that impact syncing speeds.

For a file to sync to Dropbox, it is uploaded from your device to our servers. Dropbox sync works smartly to maximize upload speed; however, upload speed is dependent on your Internet Service Provider (ISP), not Dropbox.

To measure your connection on a certain device and at a certain time, you can use a speed test (there are many free speed test tools online). Download and upload speeds are reported in Mb/s (megabits per second not megabytes per second). Higher upload speeds translate to faster syncing, and higher download speeds mean faster downloading and streaming. You can use the upload speed measured by a speed test to estimate how long it will take to sync a particular file.

When you consider your current internet package or shop for a new one, you should take note of these important facts:

  • Upload and download speed might differ in the packages offers by ISPs. If you've ever noticed that downloading and streaming in Dropbox is faster than uploading files, then you're experiencing faster download speeds compared to upload speeds.
  • ISP reported speeds are theoretical maximums—the actual connection you experience may be slower than what your internet package advertises.
  • Download and upload speeds are reported separately by ISPs and speed tests in Mb/s (megabites per second not megabytes per second), while the Dropbox client reports both upload and download speed combined in kB/s. SO be aware that the sync speed reported by the Dropbox client may not match speeds reported by a speed test.

Latency and sync speed

Latency measures the response time between your device and a service's server, which means that distance is important to consider when measuring latency. As it travels from device to server, data must perform multiple hops, and more hops increases latency. The further that you are from Dropbox storage servers the longer the period of latency you’ll experience. Latency can explain the disparity you may see between upload seeds in a speed test and your actual Dropbox upload speed.

Other factors that impact sync speed

In addition to the factors described above, the following also play a role in sync speeds:

  • Traffic/Packet shaping and Bandwidth limits: ISPs and other organizations set limits on the amount of network traffic allotted to a service or to prioritize bandwidth for certain services over others.
  • Network Congestion: Too much traffic on a particular network (congestion) impacts connection speed.
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