Why Is Dropbox Not Syncing?

There are many causes that can result in Dropbox files not syncing automatically or Dropbox files not showing up on computer. The following will list all the reasons; click on each reason and it will guide you directly to the relative solution.

How to Solve Dropbox Not Syncing?

The following will give solution to each cause listed above based on Windows 10 operating system. And, the following files represent files, folders, shared folders, camera photos, screenshots, saved images, documents, sheets, videos, movies, music, voice files, etc. all kind of files supported by Dropbox.

Solution 1. Shorten File Name

Windows operating systems can only recognize files with filename not exceed 260 characters, counting your Dropbox folder path in. Just rename target files and make their file path within the limitation of Windows recognized character length. Then, they will be viewable on your machine.

Dropbox Filename Too Long

Tips: For Microsoft Excel files, the name length should not exceed 218 characters.

Solution 2. Make Filename Valid

There may be invalid characters in the name of the file that can’t be recognized by Windows OS, including < > : “ | ? * . / \ and a space at the end of the name. Rename your file and exclude the invalid characters will make these files available on desktop as well as fix Dropbox not syncing problem.

Dropbox Filename Invalid Characters

Tips: Filename with a / (forward slash) on a Mac computer can be synced to online Dropbox with / replaced by : (colon).

Solution 3. Avoid Reserved Filename

CON, PRN, AUX, NUL, COM1, COM2, COM3, COM4, COM5, COM6, COM7, COM8, COM9, LPT1, LPT2, LPT3, LPT4, LPT5, LPT6, LPT7, LPT8, and LPT9. Also including these filenames followed right by an extension like con.txt and so on.

Dropbox Reserved Filename

Tips: The case is not sensitive in filename including drive letters on Windows and Mac, but sensitive in Linux (Ubuntu).

Solution 4. Forget Ignored Files

Some small system files won’t sync to Dropbox cloud including:

  • Desktop.ini
  • Thumbs.db
  • .ds_store
  • Icon\r
  • .dropbox
  • .dropbox.attr

Solution 5. Avoid File Name Begin with Period

Files whose names begin with a period (.) will sync properly to Dropbox from Windows machine. Yet, Mac and Linux OS will regard these files as system files and hide them in default. Thus, you won’t see them without modifying advanced settings on your computer. Also, you can rename them in Dropbox cloud drive to solve Dropbox not syncing problem.

Solution 6. Avoid Trailing Characters

Filenames end with period (.) will not sync correctly between systems and they will appear in bad files check. File names end with spaces are stripped. If Dropbox finds a file in Dropbox folder with the same name but different only in white space (there is space in the end) compared with another file, this file will add the file to Dropbox folder but append the filename with white space conflict.

Solution 7. Ensure No File Is Being Editing in Dropbox Folder.

If some types of files left open in certain applications, Dropbox won’t synchronize them and give “file is in use” message.

Dropbox File in Use

Some software, such as Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.), will lock the files they are opening or editing, preventing conflicts coming from edit, movement or changes created on other computers. However, this also lock Dropbox from accessing and syncing the files.

To sync these files, just save and close them and Dropbox not syncing issue will automatically be solved.

Solution 8. Ignore Temporary Files

Dropbox won’t sync temporary files on any OS.

  • Filename begins with ~$ (a tilde and dollar sign) or .~ (a period and tilde)
  • Filename begins with a tilde and ends with .tmp like ~test.tmp

Solution 9. Avoid Unicode Encoding Conflicts

For some characters, there are several ways to create them on keyboard. They look the same by you but not by system and Dropbox. If Dropbox discovers these encoding conflicts, it will create a conflicted copy of the file and save it in the same folder but appended with Unicode Encoding Conflict. Thus, try to create those characters in the same way that you use to.

Dropbox Unicode Encoding Conflicts

Solution 10. Avoid Files with Metadata & Resource Forks

You’d better not to sync files with metadata or resource forks, such as Mac aliases and Windows shortcuts. These files typically only work on the OS where they were created.

Solution 11. Adjust Junction Points

Dropbox will sync the files following the Windows junction points’ links. Yet, new changes created by Windows to these files will only be synced the next time Dropbox restarted. To solve this issue, you can move the original folder to Dropbox and add a junction point from its original location to new one in Dropbox folder.

Solution 12. Sync Files with Reparse Points

Rarely, Windows might append a certain type of extended attribute – reparse point to some files or folders, which can’t be synced by Dropbox. These files/folders usually with a red “X” on them. To deal with Dropbox not syncing all files problem, you should correct them individually. Let’s take a file for example, create a new file of the same file type, copy the contents of the original file to the new one and sync the new copy to Dropbox storage.

Dropbox Files with Red X

Tips: If you keep to encounter such problem, contact Microsoft support for help.

Solution 13. Sync Files with Metadata on FAT32 Drives

Some files have attributes or xattrs (metadata) in data attached to the file. Dropbox supports xattrs on all platforms while thumb drives and portable drives of FAT32 file system don’t support metadata. If your Dropbox folder locates on a FAT32 disk, unfortunately, it is impossible to keep metadata after the file movement or renaming. Thus, if you want to copy files with metadata to cloud, you’d better create Dropbox folder not on FAT32 file system.

Solution 14. Monitoring 10,000+ Folders on Linux

In default, Dropbox Linux version can’t monitor folders more than 10 thousand. Anything more than that won’t be viewed and will be ignored when syncing. To deal with this limitation, enter the below command in the terminal will remove the limitation:

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

Solution 15. Enable Extended Attribute (Xattr) Support in Linux

Some distributions of Linux in default have xattrs turned off. Especially for ext3 or ext4 file system, it is possible Dropbox not syncing extended attribute files. Just rely on Linux distribution docs to turn on xattr through /etc/fstab settings file.

Dropbox Enable Extended Attribute Support Linux

Solution 16. Avoid Referenced Files in Dropbox

Using reference files can result in permission issues, quota usage disparities, high CPU usage as well as poor synchronization performance. Thus, reference files (junction points, networked folders or symlinks) are not recommended.

Dropbox Permissions Error

Solution 17. Make Sure Target Files/Folders Are in the Dropbox Folder

The Dropbox folder is a common folder on local computer. All files and only the files in the folder will be backed to Dropbox cloud server. So, if you want some files to be synced to Dropbox, just move them or put a copy of them to the folder.

Local Dropbox Folder

Solution 18. Resync Un-synced Files

Just find out the un-synced files or folders and right-click on them to sync them again to solve Dropbox not syncing.

Solution 19. Refresh Dropbox Folder

Sometimes, just refresh the local Dropbox folder or online Dropbox files will trigger Dropbox to resync the items that haven’t been synced yet.

Solution 20. Make Sure Source Files Is Not Corrupted

Though Dropbox does not care about what type of files it is operating, if the target files is corrupted, it might also cause sync problems. Check the file that is failed to be synced and open it with a proper program. If it can’t be opened correctly, if there is an original copy of it outside of Dropbox folder, just make another copy based on the source file and put the copy in Dropbox folder to replace the corrupted one.

Solution 21. Disable selective sync

Dropbox selective sync feature only backs up certain files that you choose to sync. Go to advanced settings and put the files you want to sync into the selective sync folder.

Dropbox Preferences Selective Sync

Solution 22. Clear cache

In order to control preserve integrity as well as network latency, Dropbox caches data to facilitate uploading tasks. With the time goes by, cache becomes full or unreadable. This may cause some files not syncing. Thus, just clear these caches will fix the problem.

1. Go to local Dropbox folder.

2. Locate .dropbox.cache folder within Dropbox folder.

3. Completely delete all files in the cache folder and Dropbox not syncing won’t happen again.

Dropbox Folder Cache

Solution 23. Make Sure Internet Connection

Internet connection is the basic to ensuring the normal work of Dropbox application. You should not only ensure Internet is connected, but also keep enough network speed. Thus, you’d better not to limit Dropbox download and upload rate.

Dropbox Bandwidth

Tips: Sometimes, adjust proxy settings can also help.

Dropbox Proxies

Solution 24. Sign in the Same Account

Make sure the Dropbox account you check in is the same one among online Dropbox server, local Dropbox folder as well as Dropbox backup and sync program.

Solution 25. Make Sure Dropbox Is Running.

Check the system tray (Windows) or menu bar (Mac/Linux) to see whether the Dropbox little icon is there or not. If not, restart your Dropbox from Programs menu (Windows/Linux) or Applications folder (Mac). The following will take check Dropbox process in Windows Task Manager for example to see whether Dropbox is running or not.

1. Right-click on the taskbar and select “Task Manager”.

2. In the Process or Details tab of the pop-up Task Manager window, checkout whether Dropbox is in the list or not. If not, just restart it.

Dropbox in Task Manager

You also need to keep Dropbox account logged in. Otherwise, it won’t sync.

Solution 26. Check Sync Status

Put mouse on the icon of Dropbox and see its status. There may be an error message or it may still working. If there is an error message, just solve Dropbox not syncing problem according to the message.

Solution 27. Keep Enough Storage Space

If your quota is totally used, it will stop syncing. So, make sure you have enough storage space on both online cloud and local Dropbox folder to save synced files.

Solution 28. Update Dropbox

If you are not running the very latest version of Dropbox, just upgrade it to the newest one or install the newest one. The update-to-date version will solve almost all problems that occurs in old version.

Tips: Sometimes, update your operating system might help.

Solution 29. Turn Off Antivirus Software

Antivirus software (Windows Defender, BitDefender, Kaspersky, Norton, AVG, etc.) may regard Dropbox as dangerous program and prevent it from working. Therefore, just remove Dropbox from the black list of antivirus App or turn off the antivirus software temporarily and it will sync again.

Solution 30. Resume/Restart/Reconnect/Reinstall

There are several all-mighty methods to solve not only Dropbox not syncing problem, but also not working issues of other cloud drives like Google drive doesn’t sync, MEGA not working and OneDrive not syncing.

1. Pause Dropbox sync App and resume it.

Dropbox Pause Syncing

2. Restart Dropbox program or restart the machine.

3. Open Dropbox as administrator

4. Reconnect your Dropbox account.

Dropbox Account

5. Reinstall Dropbox sync client.

Solution 31. Manually Upload/Download

If you can’t solve your problem in a short period of time but you are in dire need to get local files online or online files to local, you can manually upload/download them on dropbox.com.

Solution 32. Sync Dropbox with MultCloud

If all above solutions failed to fix your Dropbox not syncing problem, you can rely on this last resort. MultCloud is a third party professional and reliable multiple cloud drives manager which enables you to upload/download files between local devices and Dropbox cloud. Just create an account of it and add your Dropbox account to its platform and it will do it in one step.

Dropbox Upload Download MultCloud

Moreover, MultCloud enables you to directly transfer files from one Dropbox account to another.

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