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Serious problem with Hard Drive space

Explorer | Level 4

Hi

 

I have a major problem with disk space, and I just can't seem to find an answer to the problem.

 

I have a little macbook with minimal HD space, hence why dropbox is very handy for me.

 

I am using shared dropbox within a company. That is, we are all connected to the same account but only sync our one personal folder.

 

With 16GB of space available, I download and install dropbox, then proceed to sync the one and only folder I wish to sync, which is 2.5GB large.

 

Having done this, I now have 13.5GB available. Which is spot on.

 

However, over the course of a few days I suddenly begin to get messages warning me that my HD space is running low, until eventually the messages turn to "your hard drive is full".

 

If I uninstall dropbox, I get my 16GB back. I start again, and it just keeps happening.

 

If I leave it and get on with something else, I find that my HD space begins to gradually and erratically creep back up again.

 

I have tried and checked and tried and checked, and I am only syncing the folder I require. So why does dropbox keep stealing my available space? Note: this situation doesn't happen if dropbox is not installed.

 

This is incredibly unproductive as I seem to be spending most of my time at work configuring dropbox. Not only that, but when my computer HD goes down to 0bytes of space, I can't get anything done at all.

12 Replies

Re: Serious problem with Hard Drive space

Super User II
Is there a lot of activity in the shared folder? If so, as files are deleted, Dropbox doesn't actually delete them right away. It stores deletions in the hidden .dropbox.cache folder in the root of your Dropbox folder. Deleted files are typically kept for 3 days before being purged. This is done to aide in recovery in case something was deleted by mistake.

You can delete the content of the folder, but don't delete the folder itself. Also, if you're in the process of syncing and you delete the content, you'll likely have to start that sync process over again as the cache is also used during the sync process.
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Re: Serious problem with Hard Drive space

Explorer | Level 4

Hi Rich

 

Thanks for your reply.

 

There is a fair amount of activity on the overall dropbox account. But not in my single chosen selectively synced folder. I estimate that I am running at about a 20% ratio of dropbox activity to hard drive space. I certainly am not deleting files that would quickly fill up 13GB+ of space.

 

Is it possible that there's some ropey programming that is causing dropbox to allow other people's files to be downloaded to my machine in the background?

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Re: Serious problem with Hard Drive space

Super User II
Highly unlikely. Have you looked to see where the 13GB of data is actually located? If it's taking up that space on your drive, it has to be somewhere.
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Re: Serious problem with Hard Drive space

Explorer | Level 4

I'm not sure how to find out exactly where any other space may be taken. But I found another hidden .dropbox folder within the root of my Home directory (HD > Users) that has a file named "instance 3" and is a further 3GB in size.

 

Just for testing purposes, I unlinked my account, uninstalled dropbox and regained my 16GB.

 

I've just reinstalled and finished syncing as before. So far I have the expected amount of HD space free; 13.5GB. At some point over the next few days, I expect to be in the middle of my workflow before my HD space begins depleting rapidly to Zero bytes for now logical reason.

 

I guess there is no plausible answer for this one. Anyone with hundreds of GBs of space on their computer would probably never even notice it. Unfortunamtely for those of us with very limited (read: ridiculously small!) space it is going to be a continual problem.

 

On a separate note, I have previously tried to solve this issue by getting myself a nice big TB external hard drive. However, dropbox has terrible support for external hard drives; everytime the mac is shut down, all knowledge of dropbox folder path is lost, meaning that you then have to navigate to the dropox folder on the external hd, and then relink the account, thus having to go through the sync process from scratch each time. I have noted this in the past, and would be good if a dev manager was to pick up on it and improve dropbox's usability by incorporating some form of buffer link between the dropbox folder location and the application's rather eager decision that there is no folder therefore we must resync the entire lot.

 

Oh well. Ces't La Vie aas they say

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Re: Serious problem with Hard Drive space

Super User II

@kaywert wrote:

However, dropbox has terrible support for external hard drives ...


Officially, they have NO support of external drives. Not only are they prone to issues like you experienced, but also loss of data under certain circumstances. The Dropbox client will now let you move the Dropbox folder to an external drive with a warning, but it's still not officially supported. The safest bet when trying to use an external drive with ANY sync solution is to just not do it. Loss of your data isn't worth it.

 

You might want to look into a disk space analyzer. There are some, like Disk Inventory X (I'm assuming you're on a Mac), that show your files in a graphical list with larger files being represented by larger blocks. It makes it a lot easier to quickly find the larger items on your drive. I use an equivelant application on Windows and they work great.

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Re: Serious problem with Hard Drive space

Dropboxer
Dropboxer
Hi @kaywert, welcome to the forum!
 
I just want to doublecheck something, when you say that you’re connected to the same account, and only sync your personal folder to your computer, are you referring to a Dropbox Business team, or are you all accessing the same personal account?
 
This can affect things, since it’s possible that your personal folder is shared somehow. 
 
If you’re in a paid team, the team admin can enable Smart Sync, thus preventing files from taking up space on your machine.
 
If it’s a personal account you’re sharing with everyone, or you’re on a free team, then there could be files in the root folder that are being created and taking up space. 
 
There could also be symlinks on your account that make the Dropbox desktop application detect more files to sync, causing further issues.
 
More information on how exactly you’re accessing this folder is vital. A screenshot, excluding any personal data or names, would also help!

Jay
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
https://dropbox.com/support


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Re: Serious problem with Hard Drive space

Explorer | Level 4

@Rich wrote:

@kaywert wrote:

However, dropbox has terrible support for external hard drives ...


Officially, they have NO support of external drives.

So it is worse than terrible smiling face with open mouth and tightly-closed eyes

 

Would it not be just as easy to implement a protocol that says "Woah! Your dropbox folder isn't where I am setup to find it. Please make sure your external hd is connected and click proceed" - effectively halting the sync process, leaving all files and account links in tact, and awaiting successful connection to the custom dropbox location before continuing on with sync? At the moment, dropbox rather inelligantly falls over the minute you turn on your laptop (external connected and everything logically in place) without question.

I appreciate this kind of use is clearly not how the powers that be at dropbox feel we should be using the service, so it's therefore not setup for that, but I would like to point out that there's nothing to stop or even warn an unsuspecting user from choosing their own dropbox location and going ahead with the setup and sync process.

 

I have a requirement to edit many reasonably large garphic and video files remotely from one computer, for use on another computer in a fixed location. Dropbox (or any other syncing application for that matter) is the perfect solution for this. The other option is to go back and forth with a memory stick, but aside from the obvious ball ache of fiddling with USB drives etc, there's the inherent risk of ending up with multiple versions of the same file and confusion over which version is which. Perhaps this is a unique situation and not worth the hassle of adding a feature to suit only me.

 

I appreciate this is not necessarily a thread about external hard drive support (and I am not a programmer so am possibly talking nonsense) but it's a constructive discussion none the less. And it's my dream to have my many GBs of working content at my fingertips whenever I need it grinning face

 

Anyway, enough said on that I guess. Food for thought to any keen coders out there.

 

I have been using Disk Inventory X which is how I managed to find the other hidden folder. But cannot for the life of me see anything else related to dropbox which is taking up the remaining huge chunk of space.

 

Thanks for your time and info.

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Re: Serious problem with Hard Drive space

Explorer | Level 4

@Jay wrote:
Hi @kaywert, welcome to the forum!
 
I just want to doublecheck something, when you say that you’re connected to the same account, and only sync your personal folder to your computer, are you referring to a Dropbox Business team, or are you all accessing the same personal account?
 

I have to be honest, I do not know what level of account we have. All I know is that we have quite a large amount of space on it, I know it's a paid for account, but whether that's business or personal I'm not sure. I shall check on that.

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Re: Serious problem with Hard Drive space

Dropboxer
Dropboxer
Thanks, this would help us greatly! 
 
You can easily find out by logging into the account online and visiting here in order to see what plan it’s on.
 
Keep us posted!

Jay
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
https://dropbox.com/support


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Serious problem with Hard Drive space
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