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Mac client continuously syncing with no file changes

Mac client continuously syncing with no file changes

cgnerd
Helpful | Level 6

For the past couple of weeks I've noticed that the Dropbox client is continuously syncing, even though there are no new files to sync. I can confirm that no files have been updated and need to be re-synced by looking at the sync history. This by itself wouldn't be a problem, I don't really care if the system tray icon continuously shows the sync in progress icon, but when it's happening, Dropbox is using up a hell of a lot of CPU power. On average, it idles around 100%, sometimes it drops lower, but often it goes past 200%. It causes the laptop to heat up, the fans to spin and is definitely shortening the battery life if I'm not plugged in. See the screenshot below of my activity monitor while I was typing this up. Dropbox has absolutely nothing to do right now, but it's using up 260% CPU.

 

This has been an issue on macOS 12.2. I updated to 12.3 today and the issue remains.

 

I could understand this happening now and then as maybe some sort of background maintenance/housekeeping, but it's pretty much constant. I'm having this issue on an intel MacBook Pro and an M1 Mac mini.

 

Screenshot 2022-04-13 at 14.25.40.png

21 Replies 21

Nancy
Dropbox Staff

Hi @cgnerd, and thanks for posting here today. 

 

Is there any chance that your desktop app is syncing more than 300k files at the moment? If yes, then this could be one reason why this is happening. 

 

Besides that, I’d like you to clarify whether you have any symlinks in your Dropbox folder or if there’s any kind of antivirus/firewall that could be interfering with your Dropbox app. 

 

For more info, you can also check this Help Center article

 

Give me a shout, when you’ve got more updates!


Nancy
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
dropbox.com/support


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cgnerd
Helpful | Level 6
I’d need to check, but yes, it’s possible that there are over 300k files. Does this include files that aren’t saved locally?

No symlinks, no anti-virus software and no firewall.

Nancy
Dropbox Staff

No, we basically want to make sure that the desktop app doesn’t sync more than 300k files. 

 

So, if your Dropbox account has more than 300k files in total, but you don’t have everything syncing locally and some of them are only available on www.dropbox.com, you should be good.


Nancy
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
dropbox.com/support


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cgnerd
Helpful | Level 6

I have way over 300k files (I'm an animator, rendering out image sequences means loads of files). The terminal command I used below includes online-only files, not sure how to count only offline files. Is 300k files some kind of limit for Dropbox in general, or is this just the Mac client? Do you know if this is something that will be improved/resolved?

Screenshot 2022-04-14 at 09.28.33.png

 

Jay
Dropbox Staff

The 300k file limit is a soft limit depending on the machine itself. 

 

Are you able to use selective sync to prevent entire folders from syncing to the site to see if this helps?


Jay
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
dropbox.com/support


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cgnerd
Helpful | Level 6

I've made all of the folders that I don't currently need 'online-only' and I've calculated the number of files in the offline folders (28,438), less than 10% of your soft limit. The issue is still occurring.

 

This is a screenshot of Dropbox not syncing, yet it's using up a whole core.

 

Screenshot 2022-04-22 at 10.59.19.png

 

 A couple of seconds later, it ramps up to 217%. Clicking on the Dropbox icon says it's syncing x number of files, but no changes have been made to the dropbox folder. There are no new files to sync. No new files are in the sync history either.

 

Screenshot 2022-04-22 at 10.59.49.png

 

After a minute of this intense draw of power, it stops for a minute or so, then the process repeats again. I often have to pause Dropbox syncing if I'm having a video meeting as this excessive use of processing power makes the fans kick in.

Hannah
Dropbox Staff

Sorry to jump in here, @cgnerd.

 

The process of making a file online-only and selective sync are a bit different from each other.

 

Making a file online-only stops it from taking up space on your hard drive, but a placeholder file still remains in the folder.

 

With selective sync you can remove entire folders off of the Dropbox folder completely. 

 

Can you try it, using the steps here, to see what happens?


Hannah
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
dropbox.com/support


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cgnerd
Helpful | Level 6

Hi Hannah, thanks for the reply and the clarification. I've used selective sync to remove most of the folders from Dropbox on my MBP, I'm left with 53,208 files:

Screenshot 2022-04-28 at 12.38.18.png

I have given the Dropbox client time to chew through these changes and the icon is no longer regularly showing the sync symbol. I am finding that your client is still using a lot of power when there's nothing to do, but it's nowhere near as regular as before:

 

Screenshot 2022-04-28 at 12.36.40.png

It's no longer regularly jumping up to and over 200%. Now, it's just a steady 100% for about 5 minutes every 20 minutes or so, which still causes the laptop to heat up and the fans to spin, just not as hot and loud as before.

 

As a comparison, I've been testing Nextcloud for file syncing. Maybe it isn't as smart as the Dropbox client and doesn't need to do background work when no new syncing is needed, but it never causes my computer to heat up and the fans to spin 😕

 

I think using selective sync to remove folders from your local Dropbox folder is a bit of an extreme step to take to reduce the load of your client, but it has made things slightly better so I'll mark your answer as correct. Thank you all for your help.

TomBoo
Helpful | Level 6

Hi!

 

Thanks for pointing out this issue, @cgnerd, and for the suggested workaround, @Hannah. However, I don't agree with closing this topic...

 

We're facing the same issues, both before and after upgrading to macOS 12.3. It's also causing Dropbox to be slow, and the dropdown-menu doesn't show the Dropbox features... so we can't use "Send with Transfer", "Copy Dropbox link", etc. 

 

In our case, not being able to rely on SmartSync and having to switch off a number of folders through SelectiveSync, is very troublesome. F.e. as Executive Director of our architecture office, I need to be able to view and check all folders directly from the Finder, relying also on the Spotlight search capabilities. We're on Dropbox Business Advanced, paying a substantial amount of money, so we should be able to rely on Dropbox to work properly. If certain functionalities and services are offered, they should work fine. Moreover, these functionalities are some of the reasons why we opted for Dropbox instead of another application. If such functionalities are no longer working or will be discontinued in the future, we should be informed in due time, allowing us to reconsider our subscription.

 

This being said, I sincerely hope there is a proper solution coming very soon to resolve this issue.

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