Fix syncing problems in Dropbox

This article covers basic and advanced fixes for Dropbox sync issues. If you’re experiencing syncing problems on any device, including your computer (Windows or Mac), phone (Android or iPhone), or tablet, or Dropbox appears to not be working, use this article to troubleshoot.

Use this article to fix the following issues:

  • Dropbox is not syncing, updating, or refreshing files, folders, or shared folders.
  • Dropbox is not “downloading” or not “uploading”, meaning not syncing or updating, files.
  • Dropbox appears to have stopped syncing, is no longer syncing, or is stuck indexing.
  • Files are taking a long time to sync, are syncing slowly, or appear to always be syncing.
  • You see a “can’t establish secure connection” error or a different sync error message.
  • Dropbox has unexpectedly high CPU, memory, or RAM usage.
  • You see “permission error”, “access denied”, “permission denied”, or “rejected by server”.
  • You see a “Dropbox is damaged”, “OperationalError”, or “BrokenTempDirError” error.
  • If your files aren’t showing up or you don’t see files that should be there, visit the selective sync feature article in addition to this article.
  • If the Dropbox Smart Sync feature isn’t working as expected, visit the Smart Sync feature article in addition to this article.
  • If you see a sync icon that you don’t recognize, like a gray circle with a minus sign or a red circle with an “X”, visit this sync icons article in addition to this article.

For a basic introduction to how Dropbox sync works, visit this sync overview article instead.

Not using Dropbox yet? See how Dropbox makes syncing files easy.

Basic solutions to file syncing issues

Many file syncing issues, no matter what device you’re using or what the specific issue is, can be solved with the following solutions. 

 Make sure you’re looking in the right places

    Here are all the places you can access your files in Dropbox:

  • Dropbox.com in a web browser on your phone or computer
  • The Dropbox desktop app, which includes:
  • The Dropbox mobile app on your phone or tablet

 Wait a few minutes and check back

    There are a lot of reasons why syncing could be temporarily delayed. For example, your device could be struggling to connect to internet or your files may be very large. Wait a few minutes and then check back.

 Check your internet connection

    For a file to sync, Dropbox must connect to the internet on the device where you added or changed the file, and the device where you’re trying to access it. Make sure the device you’re using is connected to the internet. If you’re using data, connect to Wi-Fi instead.

 Reopen the Dropbox app or refresh dropbox.com

    To restart, resync, or force sync Dropbox, close and reopen (quit and relaunch) the Dropbox app or refresh (reload) dropbox.com on your device. If you added a file to the Dropbox folder in File Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac) and it’s not syncing on dropbox.com or the mobile app, make sure the Dropbox desktop app is open and running on your computer.

 Close other applications that are open on your device

    If Dropbox files are open in another application, they might not sync. You might see an error message indicating that your file is in use. Even if you don’t see this error, double check by closing all non-Dropbox applications.

 Make sure your Dropbox app is up to date

 Make sure you’re signed in to the right Dropbox account

 Follow our filename recommendations

 Restart your computer or phone

    Whether you’re on a computer, phone, or tablet, restart your device and reopen the Dropbox app.

  If it’s a shared file or folder, make sure you added it to your account, and that no one changed it

    If a shared file or folder isn’t syncing, make sure you added it to your account. If changes to it aren’t syncing, it could have been moved, deleted, or renamed by someone you’re sharing it with. Check your account on dropbox.com to see if the file is still in its original location with its original name, or ask whoever you’re sharing the file with if they moved, deleted, or renamed it.

Advanced solutions to file syncing issues

If the above, basic solutions don’t solve your file sync issue, try some of the more-advanced solutions below.

 Allow Dropbox permissions in your computer’s firewall, security, and antivirus software

 Check if the internet you’re trying to connect to has security restrictions

 If the Dropbox desktop app is on an external hard drive, check your connection

    If you have your Dropbox folder on an external hard drive, make sure the external hard drive is connected and recognized by your computer. If it is, and you’re still having syncing issues, move the Dropbox folder back to your computer temporarily to see if the external hard drive is causing the issue. If it is, contact support.

 Uninstall and reinstall the Dropbox desktop app

 Make sure you’re not trying to sync a file that Dropbox can’t sync

    There are certain types of files that Dropbox can’t sync or that create sync issues. These include:  

  • The files “desktop.ini”, “thumbs.db”, “.ds_store”, “icon\r”, “.dropbox”, and “.dropbox.attr”.
  • Temporary files created by applications (such as Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint). They often start with a ~$ (a tilde and dollar sign) or .~ (a period and a tilde).
  • Certain types of files and metadata like symlinks (symbolic links), aliases, shortcuts, junction points, resource forks, networked folders, and extended attributes. Learn what types of extended attributes Dropbox can sync.
  • Files that Dropbox has flagged as copyright violations, DMCA violations, or malware. If this is the case, you might see an error message that says that permission has been denied or that your file has been rejected by the server. If you suspect this is the problem, contact support

 Make sure Dropbox supports your device and operating system

    Check our system requirements article to make sure the device and operating system you’re using are supported by Dropbox. If it’s not, update your operating system or use a different device.

 Make sure you’ve saved any changes back to Dropbox

    If a file isn’t updating, and you made a change to it in a different non-Dropbox application, double check that your changes saved back to Dropbox. Some applications automatically save your changes back to Dropbox, while others need to be saved back manually. You may also have saved it somewhere else on your computer. Search your computer for the file with the search bar in your taskbar (Windows) or Spotlight in your menu bar (Mac).

 Make sure your devices’s date and time settings are accurate

 Make sure the file isn’t read-only (Windows) or locked (Mac)

 See if you’re out of disk space on your computer and free up space

 Update or reinstall any non-Dropbox applications you’re using

    If you’re making changes to files in Dropbox with a non-Dropbox application, make sure those applications are up to date or uninstall and reinstall them.

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