How does Dropbox sync my files?

This article is a basic introduction to how Dropbox syncs your files. It explains how you can store your files in Dropbox and sync them between your devices. 

When you store files in Dropbox, your files are accessible from everywhere you use Dropbox. This includes:

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

Your files are also kept up to date everywhere you use Dropbox. This means that if you add or make changes to a file in one place, the file is automatically updated everywhere else.

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

How to start syncing your files with Dropbox

You can start syncing all your files across all of your devices with a free Dropbox Basic plan, which includes up to 2 GBs of storage space and has no time limit.

You can upgrade to a paid plan with more storage space or additional features at any time. To learn more, see our plans page.

To get started:

  1. Create an account on
  2. Download the Dropbox desktop app for your computer and the Dropbox mobile app for your phone or tablet.
  3. Upload files to your Dropbox account, select files to sync from your computer, or back up a computer or external hard drive.


Can I use Dropbox syncing to move my files to a new computer?

After you follow the steps above to get started, your files are synced to Dropbox, so you don’t need to move or transfer them manually between computers or devices anymore. You can access them from any device through or the Dropbox desktop and mobile apps. 

If you’d like your files saved on a computer’s hard drive (or multiple computers’ hard drives), as well as to your Dropbox account online, you can choose to do so when you download the Dropbox desktop app. When prompted, choose Available offline instead of Online-only.

Note: LAN sync is not currently supported on computers running Dropbox for macOS with Apple File Provider.

What’s the difference between files that are available offline and online-only?

Files that are available offline, which is the default setting, means that files and folders are available whether you’re connected to the internet or not, and they take up space both on your computer’s hard drive and in your Dropbox account. However, if you set your files to online-only set, you’ll still see them in the Dropbox folder on your computer, but you can only open them if you’re connected to the Internet. 

Note: Once you open these online-only files from the Dropbox folder in your computer, they’ll automatically download to your computer.

What’s the difference between syncing files and backing up files?

Backing up files from your computer or external drive to Dropbox creates a safe copy in case things go wrong. Backed up files aren’t meant for sharing, and changes you make to backed up files in Dropbox won’t update on your computer or external drive.

Syncing files to Dropbox makes those files available for editing and sharing wherever you use Dropbox. Whenever you make a change to those files, those changes will be synced in Dropbox everywhere.

Learn more about syncing files with Dropbox

Fix syncing problems in Dropbox

How to use selective sync

How to use Dropbox to save hard drive space

How to stop and resume file syncing

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