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Dropbox is stuck syncing, won't open, or shows an error

Occasionally, you may see an error message related to Dropbox file sync. These errors may appear on the Dropbox folder on your computer, or on the Dropbox icon in the system tray or menu bar. Select from the list of errors below to find out what to do next.

Notes before you get started

  • This article discusses specific sync error messages, and how to fix them. If you’re not seeing an error message, try our list of more general troubleshooting steps instead.
  • If the Dropbox app fails to open, reports you're running an old version, or shows "OperationalError" or "BrokenTempDirError," then there may be an issue with the app itself.

Sections in this article:

The Dropbox icon has a red notification on it

Do you see a red notification on the Dropbox icon in the system tray or menu bar on your computer? Here are some possible reasons:

  • Your Dropbox account is over its storage quota. (To see if this is causing the sync issue, click the Dropbox icon in the system tray or menu bar, click the gear icon, click Preferences, then click Account.)
    • To fix this problem: Remove files from your Dropbox account, or upgrade to Dropbox Plus or Professional
    • To fix this problem: If you already have a Plus or Professional account, check your account page to make sure your plan hasn't been downgraded. If you're on a Dropbox Business team, ask your admin to check the team's account status in the Admin Console.

"Whitespace conflict"

If you have two nearly identical file names, you may see a "Whitespace conflict." A whitespace conflict means that two files names are identical except that one has an extra space at the end of the file name.

Dropbox is cautious about saving files: if the names of two files are even slightly different, the app will create a copy of the file rather than replace the existing one. The most recently changed copy will have "white space conflict" added to the file name.

  • To fix this problem: Either give the copy of the file a more unique name, or else make sure to avoid renaming the file with an extra space or character the next time you save.

"File is in use"

Dropbox won't sync files that are "locked" (or in use) by another application. When Dropbox skips the file, the status message in your Dropbox menu (from the system tray or menu bar) will report that the file is in use.

Applications lock files to prevent conflicts from occurring when the file is opened from one or more locations. For example, Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc...) typically locks its files while they are open.

  • To fix this problem: When you're done with a file, save it and then exit the application you were using. Dropbox will then sync the file right away.

"Dropbox will stop syncing soon because it can’t update"

If the DropboxUpdate.exe process is disabled, you'll see the error message "Dropbox will stop syncing soon because it can't update."

DropboxUpdate.exe is a helper process that checks for new versions of the Dropbox app. It runs during installation of the Dropbox app, and once every hour afterwards. If the process finds a new version, it will auto-update.

This process must exist on any computer where Dropbox is installed. If you want to use Dropbox on your computer, you can’t disable this process.

Dropbox requires access to the internet to function. If the DropboxUpdate.exe helper process is unable to contact our servers to check for updates, Dropbox will stop syncing and you’ll see the “Dropbox will stop syncing soon because it can’t update” message. There are three possible fixes:

  • To fix this problem: If you made adjustments to your firewall or antivirus software in order for Dropbox to run, try making the same adjustments for DropboxUpdate.exe.
  • To fix this problem: Download the desktop app installer and reinstall the application (this will update you to the latest version of the Dropbox app, but won't affect your files or folders).
  • To fix this problem: Check that DropboxUpdate.exe is able to access the internet to check for updates.

"Permission errors"

While using the desktop app, you may be notified that Dropbox was unable to sync certain files due to "permission errors."

Permissions determine who (or which apps) can access files on your hard drive. If file permissions don't allow Dropbox access to your files, then Dropbox can't sync.

Use the menu below to show instructions to resolve file permissions errors on your specific computer operating system.

Windows

  1. Click the Dropbox icon on the system tray.
  2. Click the gear icon, and select Exit Dropbox.
  3. Type 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
      
  1. Go to the Start menu and select Program Files.
  2. Select Dropbox.

Mac

  1. Click the Dropbox icon on the menu bar.
  2. Click the gear icon, and select Quit Dropbox.
  3. Open the Terminal app (at /Applications/Utilities/Terminal).
  4. Copy and paste the following lines one at a time into Terminal. Press Enter 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. 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
      
  1. Restart Dropbox by double-clicking the Dropbox icon in your Applications folder.

Linux

  1. Right-click Dropbox in the menu bar, and then 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. 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
      
  1. Restart Dropbox by going to the Internet menu under Applications.

"Permission denied" or "Rejected by server"

If you see a "Permission denied" or "Rejected by server" message, first try signing out of your Dropbox account in the Dropbox desktop app, then signing in again. If this 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 using an administrative account.

Use the menu below to show instructions for your specific computer operating system.

Windows

  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
    icacls "%LOCALAPPDATA%\Dropbox" /grant "%USERNAME%":F /T
    icacls "%PROGRAMFILES%\Dropbox" /grant "%USERNAME%":F /T
    
  4. 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			
    
  5. 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.
  6. Restart Dropbox by going to the Start menu and selecting Program Files, then Dropbox.

Note: If you don't see a Dropbox option under Program Files, you will need to restart Dropbox by entering %APPDATA%\Dropbox into the Windows Explorer window and double clicking Dropbox.exe

Mac

  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.
    • Don't type commands by hand.
    • 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.
    • Important: We assume that your Dropbox folder is in the default pathway. If you have placed your Dropbox folder in a custom location, replace all ~/Dropbox with 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 "https://www.dropbox.com/Volumes/DifferentPlace/Dropbox".
      sudo chflags -R nouchg ~/Dropbox ~/.dropbox
      sudo chown "$USER" "$HOME"
      sudo chown -R "$USER" ~/Dropbox ~/.dropbox
      sudo chmod -RN ~/.dropbox ~/Dropbox
      chmod -R u+rw ~/Dropbox ~/.dropbox
      
  4. Restart Dropbox. Dropbox is located in your Applications folder.

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

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