Why is Dropbox using high CPU on my computer?

Updated Oct 18, 2023

Sometimes, Dropbox uses more memory (RAM) or CPU than you expect. This may slow down your computer. 

What causes Dropbox to use lots of memory (RAM)?

The more files you have in your Dropbox folder, the more memory Dropbox needs to keep track of them.

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Note: Dropbox performance in File Explorer (Windows) and Finder (Mac) starts to decrease at around 300,000 synced files.

You can free up memory on your computer with the selective sync feature in the Dropbox desktop app. This feature removes Dropbox folders from your computer and stores them in your account on dropbox.com to save space on your hard drive. You can free up memory on your computer by using selective sync or making files online-only.

What causes Dropbox to use high CPU?

Dropbox uses several processes to store, sync, and update your files. Dropbox also checks for version updates and performs self-monitoring tasks. These tasks can increase CPU usage and may slow down your computer.

Other reasons that Dropbox might use a lot of CPU include:

1) Dropbox is syncing a large number of files

When you sync a lot of files, especially for the first time, Dropbox may use a lot of CPU. To fix this issue, you can reduce the number of files on your computer with selective sync.

2) Other apps interfere with sync 

Some programs, like anti-virus apps, security software, or backup apps, can access files in your Dropbox folder. Dropbox may interpret this access as edits. If the apps request access continuously, Dropbox will always be attempting to sync the changes.

To check which app is causing Dropbox sync to slow down, you can temporarily disable each app in the Activity Monitor or Task Manager. Then, check to see if the CPU usage decreases. 

Learn how to troubleshoot other Dropbox sync issues.

3) Files in your Dropbox folder have the wrong permissions

If the files in your Dropbox account have the wrong permissions, Dropbox can’t sync them. Learn how to give Dropbox full permissions.

Dropbox also can’t sync folders that are flagged for copyright violations, DMCA violations, or malware. If you get an error like, “Permissions have been denied,” or “Your file has been rejected by the server,” contact support for help.

4) The Dropbox folder is installed on a NAS device

Dropbox doesn't work with network share file systems, so it doesn’t work on NAS devices. To fix this issue:

5) Your device doesn’t support extended attributes

If your computer has a file system that doesn’t support extended attributes, Dropbox can’t sync your files. However, the app will try to sync continuously, and this causes high CPU use. To fix the issue:

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