How to fix common issues with selective sync

If you’re seeing a problem with selective sync, choose the option below that best describes the issue you’re seeing.

Sections in this article:

My folder has “Selective sync conflict” added to the name

A selective sync conflict happens when a user creates a folder with the same name and in the same location as an unsynced folder.

When Dropbox tries to the sync the two folders, it'll create a "selective sync conflict" to keep the files in both.

The easiest way to solve a selective sync conflict is to rename that folder something unique from any existing folder you have. Then, compare the files in both folders and choose which ones to keep and delete.

Example of a selective sync conflict

To see how a selective sync conflict could happen, imagine you create a folder called "Taxes." If you 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," it will appear with a gray minus sign, and Dropbox won't sync that folder.

If you resume syncing both the original "Taxes" folder and the new "Taxes" folder, the name of the "Taxes" folder with the minus sign will be appended with "(Selective Sync Conflict)." Both the old and new folders will sync to your account on dropbox.com.

Grey minus sign Selective sync conflict

To remove the folder with the 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.

To remove the "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.

"Performing initial sync with server. Please wait…"

Selective sync is unavailable while Dropbox is paused or in the process of syncing files. This means that if you're running the Dropbox desktop app for the first time, you may have to wait until Dropbox has finished indexing the files in your Dropbox folder before you can access selective sync settings.

If you see the message "Performing initial sync with server. Please wait…" it means the Dropbox desktop app is in the process of indexing the files in your Dropbox folder, or that you paused syncing from the Dropbox menu. If either of these are true, you can choose to wait until indexing is complete to access your selective sync settings. Otherwise, select Cancel to dismiss the message and return to your preferences window. If you paused syncing, you can resume at any time.

Dropbox will continue indexing (as indicated by the icon with rotating arrows over your Dropbox icon) and you'll still be able to browse and change other preferences while Dropbox finishes.

Selective sync preferences won’t update

Dropbox might not update your selective sync preferences if any of the following are true:

  • Your hard drive is low on space
  • Files or folders are in use
  • You're using symlinks or referenced files
  • You have incorrect file permissions

Check your available hard drive space

It's possible that there's no room to save the data that's necessary to update your selective sync preferences. To see if this is the case, check your available hard drive space. If your hard drive is very low on disk space, you may need to first make space available outside of the Dropbox folder.

Files or folders are in use

Dropbox is not able to selectively sync folders if they (or the files they contain) are being used in other applications. To resolve this issue, close any applications that are accessing files in your Dropbox folder before attempting to update your selective sync preferences.

You’re using symlinks or referenced files

We strongly recommend against methods that add referenced files (symlinks, junction points, or networked folders) to the Dropbox folder. In addition to interfering with updating Selective Sync preferences, reference files can cause high CPU usage, poor syncing performance, permissions issues, and space usage discrepancies.

Incorrect file permissions

If files in your Dropbox don't have correct permissions, Dropbox may not sync them. Select your operating system below to troubleshoot file permissions:

Windows

  1. Click the Dropbox icon in your system tray.
  2. Click the gear icon, and select Exit Dropbox.
  3. Press the Windows Key + R (at the same time).
  4. Type cmd and press Enter to open the command prompt.
  5. Copy and paste the following lines one at a time into the command prompt. Press Enter after each one.
    • If the location of your Dropbox folder is not C:\Users\YourUser\Dropbox, modify the first command to point to its actual location. For example, if your Dropbox is in D:\Dropbox, change the command to:
          icacls "D:\Dropbox" /grant "%USERNAME%":(F) /T
      
    • Regardless of where your Dropbox folder is located, other commands remain unchanged.
    • Depending on the size of your Dropbox, this operation can take more time to complete. Wait for the C:\ prompt to appear before moving to the next step.
          icacls "%HOMEPATH%\Dropbox" /grant "%USERNAME%":(F) /T
          icacls "%APPDATA%\Dropbox" /grant "%USERNAME%":(F) /T
      
  6. Go to the Start menu and select Program Files.
  7. Select Dropbox.

Mac

  1. Click the Dropbox icon from your menu bar.
  2. Click the gear icon, and select Quit Dropbox.
  3. Open your Terminal app (at /Applications/Utilities/Terminal).
  4. Copy and paste the following lines one at a time into Terminal. Press return after each one.
    • You'll be prompted for your computer password (not your Dropbox password) after entering the first command. The password field in Terminal remains blank as you type your password. After you type it, press return.
    • Important: We assume that your Dropbox folder is in the default pathway. If you placed your Dropbox folder in a custom location, replace all ~/Dropbox for the full location of your Dropbox folder in quotation marks. For example, if you have your Dropbox folder in the path /Volumes/DifferentPlace/Dropbox, you need to replace ~/Dropbox from the following instructions to "/Volumes/DifferentPlace/Dropbox".
    • Once the Terminal prompt shows up again, the instruction completed the requested task and is ready for the next command. If any of the the commands return an error or do not respond after an hour, try restarting your computer and repeating these steps.
          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
      
  5. Restart Dropbox by double-clicking the Dropbox icon in your Applications folder.

Linux

  1. Right-click the Dropbox menu from your menu bar and select Quit.
  2. Open a terminal window and copy and paste the following commands into the terminal:
    • Important: In the commands below, we assume that your Dropbox folder is in the default pathway. If you placed your Dropbox folder in a custom location, replace all instances of ~/Dropbox for the full location of your Dropbox folder in quotation marks. For example, if you have your Dropbox folder in the path /Volumes/DifferentPlace/Dropbox, replace ~/Dropbox from the following command lines to "https://www.dropbox.com/Volumes/DifferentPlace/Dropbox".
    • Once the Terminal prompt shows up again, the instruction completed the requested task and is ready for the next command. If any of the the commands return an error or do not respond after an hour, try restarting your computer and repeating these steps.
          sudo chown "$USER" "$HOME"
          sudo chown -R "$USER" ~/Dropbox ~/.dropbox
          sudo chattr -R -i ~/Dropbox
          sudo chmod -R u+rw ~/Dropbox ~/.dropbox
      
  3. Restart Dropbox by going to the Internet menu under Applications.
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