Dropbox is a highly useful cloud storage and collaboration service for a small business, allowing you to share your files with almost anyone. You can collaborate with co-workers or clients on projects using Dropbox, editing and working on files together. And you can use Dropbox as a file backup service, synching the data stored on your laptop with your Dropbox account in the cloud, constantly maintaining a current backup copy of all of your files.
However, there is one thing that can bring Dropbox to its knees and leave you unable to access your files. When you’re having the problem of Dropbox not synching, you are unable to work as efficiently, because you cannot gain access to your files or share them with others. You also will lose the ability to have current backups of your files available.
When Dropbox is not synching with the files you have stored locally, you need to figure out what is happening and quickly. Here are 12 troubleshooting tips you can use when you are having a Dropbox not syncing issue.
1. Check the Easy Stuff First
Before we break down some of the primary reasons why Dropbox not synching may be happening to you, let’s make sure the problem doesn’t relate to something with your network, Internet connection, or system.
Verify That a Problem Exists
Look at the files that you believe are not synching properly, such as some files to which you recently made editing changes. If they have a red X marking them, they are not syncing properly. Files that are synching will have a green checkmark.
If you see only red X marks, the problem is with your files not syncing properly.
Check Your Internet Connection
Are you able to open websites through a browser? Can you receive and send email messages? If not, the problem with Dropbox not synching is not a problem with Dropbox. It’s an issue with your Internet connection.
If your Internet connection is running far slower than normal, or if it is dropping in and out, this also can make it appear as though Dropbox is having a problem with synching.
Storage Space Exceeded
If you are seeing that Dropbox is not syncing your files, make sure that you have not exceeded your Dropbox data storage limits. Once this happens, Dropbox will be unable to add new files until you delete some of the files you have stored in the cloud or until you upgrade to a higher subscription level to gain more cloud storage space.
Sometimes, a simple restart of your computer or your Dropbox app will fix whatever problem you are having. This may seem silly, but the restart seems to work more often than you might think.
Another option is to sign out of the Dropbox app before signing back into the app. This may allow the sync to restart on its own.
2. Corrupted DropboxUpdate.exe File
When Dropbox prepares to sync files from your local storage with the cloud storage, it needs to access the DropboxUpdate.exe file stored on your local computer. If this file is not available, Dropbox will give you an error message that it will not sync because it cannot update.
Dropbox uses this .exe file to check for any updates to the Dropbox app. It makes automatic updates to the app as needed, so you do not have to worry about this file … unless the file has a problem. Then Dropbox will not be able to update, also leaving it unable to sync.
To fix the problem, try downloading and reinstalling the Dropbox app. Reinstalling Dropbox should restore the .exe file to its proper working condition, but it will not affect your stored files.
3. Errors With File Names
If you are using Dropbox on a non-Windows computer, you may be able to include certain characters in your file names that are not compatible with Windows. Because the Dropbox service follows the same file naming rules that Windows requires, Dropbox will not sync those files. The improper symbols for file names in Dropbox include:
- Quotation mark
- Question mark
- Greater than
- Less than
- Pipe stem (vertical bar)
- Forward slash
- Backward slash
Additionally, Dropbox may encounter problems synching certain files if they have a blank space as the last character in the file name. This can be extremely difficult to notice, as it is tough to see a blank space in a list of files, so check for other incompatibilities first that are easier to see.
These symbols are not viable for folder names either for use with Dropbox.
4. Incompatibility With Long File Names
Dropbox typically will not accept file or folder names that are more than 255 characters, so you may need to shorten some file names to ensure the file will sync properly.
Additionally, Dropbox may count the characters in the names of the folders and subfolders as part of the 255 character limit. So if you have a series of files nested in several layers of subfolders with long file names, you could end up with a violation of the character limit, leading to a synching problem.
Reduce the number of subfolders you are using or shorten the folder names to work around this issue.
5. Interference With Other Software
Sometimes, the Dropbox app will be running fine. Then, your antivirus software, firewall software, or system optimization software will do an automatic update, and suddenly Dropbox does not sync properly any longer.
This may mean that an update to one of these other types of software packages has created an incompatibility with Dropbox. Try adding Dropbox to the whitelist for the software package, which tells the software that it should allow Dropbox to operate freely.
If you are running the Windows 10 Defender firewall, you may have to give Dropbox permission to go through the firewall after an update to the firewall software. Click the Start button, and then click on the following Windows 10 levels in order:
- Update & Security
- Windows Security
- Firewall & Network Protection
- Allow an App Through Firewall
Scroll through the apps listed in the popup window until you reach Dropbox. Highlight the checkboxes under both the Private and Public columns in the Dropbox row and click OK.
Otherwise, if you believe you know exactly which software package is causing the incompatibility, you can contact the technical support team for that software to see if it is aware of the problem and knows of a workaround.
6. Interference With Other Synching Apps
If you are using other apps that sync files on your computer, such as Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive, these may cause interference with Dropbox. If Dropbox is not syncing properly, try closing these other apps.
7. Conflicts Between More Than One Dropbox Account
If you use Dropbox for your small business, and if you have a separate Dropbox account for your personal use, it is possible that you’ve signed in to your personal account on a smartphone and to your business account on a laptop. This may cause an incompatibility, making it appear as though you are having a Dropbox not syncing issue.
When you are having trouble syncing certain files, make sure that you are signed in to the same Dropbox account on all of the devices you are using.
8. Remove Cache Files Related to Dropbox
If the cache files related to Dropbox have corruption, you may have problems with Dropbox syncing properly. You can remove these cache files to reset Dropbox and allow it to begin working again.
In Windows 10, press the Windows key on the keyboard and the R key at the same time. You’ll see the Run window. In the Open text box, type:
Then press OK. Windows will open a window with the files and folders related to the Dropbox cache files. Highlight all of the files, right-click on them, and left-click on Delete in the popup menu.
You then will also want to remove those files from the Recycle Bin. Right-click on the Recycle Bin icon and left-click on Empty Recycle Bin. If you need to verify this selection, click OK or Yes.
Dropbox then will rebuild new cache files the next time it needs them, and this likely will fix the Dropbox not syncing issue.
9. Disable Dropbox Selective Sync
Selective Sync is a feature of Dropbox that allows you to pick exactly what files or folders the service will send to the cloud from your computer. If you have Selective Sync activated, Dropbox will not upload your entire catalog of files, which means you may believe that there’s a Dropbox not synching error, when, in reality, you have told Dropbox to only sync certain files through its settings.
Some users activate Selective Sync when they begin using Dropbox, and then forget that it is active.
To turn off Selective Sync, click on the Dropbox icon in the taskbar in Windows. Click Preferences, followed by Advanced. Click on Selective Sync and turn if off, so Dropbox will begin synching your entire list of files.
10. Check Whether Pause Is Activated
When you need to preserve your Internet speed and bandwidth for other tasks, you may want to pause Dropbox from synching, which will ensure that all of your bandwidth is going to your other tasks.
However, if you then forget that you have paused Dropbox, it may appear as though Dropbox is not syncing properly.
To see whether Dropbox’s pause feature is active, click on the Dropbox icon in the Windows taskbar. Then click on the gear icon and look for an option that says Pause Synching or Resume Synching.
If you see Resume Synching listed here, it means you paused the synching service at some point, and it remains on pause. Click Resume Synching, and Dropbox will begin syncing your files once again.
11. Check Your Local Hard Drive Space
When running Dropbox, you will need adequate free space on your local hard drive to allow the app to run properly. Even if you have plenty of cloud storage space available under your Dropbox account, you still need some free space on the local hard drive to allow Dropbox to work.
If your hard drive is at 95% capacity or more, your entire computer (not just Dropbox) may start to perform oddly, so it is important to try to keep the hard drive under this capacity level at all times. Deleting files on the local hard drive to dip below 95% capacity (or below 90% capacity, which is even better) may allow Dropbox to begin syncing properly again.
12. Reinstall Dropbox
You have the option of reinstalling Dropbox to try to fix any synching problems. Start by uninstalling your current version of Dropbox. Open Control Panel in Windows and then click Uninstall a Program. Select Dropbox from the list and click Uninstall.
Next, reinstall the Dropbox app. This process will not affect the files you have stored in the cloud under your Dropbox account, but you may need to re-enter your username and password after you reinstall Dropbox.