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conflicting copies and deleted files still appearing

conflicting copies and deleted files still appearing

nathan s.2
New member | Level 1

For weeks now we have been seeing the same users getting conflicting copies in there group dropbox folders. These users won't ever open these specific files therefore don't understand why the same files constantly have conflicting files.
This is not the only problem users have been complaining that when they've deleted files from dropbox that the next day these files have reappeared again.
Help with this is much appreciated.

44 Replies 44

Dropbox Staff

Hi there!

Conflicted files are created as a safeguard to protect your files should changes occur to the same file at the same time.

When changes are made to the same file at the same time, the first computer to sync the change "wins." The other computer's changes are preserved and saved as a "conflicted copy." The conflicted copy is saved in the same directory as the original file and the file name is appended the name of the computer that made the change and the date the conflict occurred.

Conflicted copies can also occur when a file is left open on another computer, especially when using applications with an auto-save feature. Closing the file from within the application on either computer should prevent further conflicts.

For more information on conflicted copies, see the Help Center article here:

If you are sharing the data between computers you must NOT run the application on more than one computer at a time. You will generate file conflicts and other problems.

Thus, the pattern needs to be:

1. Let files sync
2. Start application
3. Save files
4. Quit application
5. Repeat on different computers.

One workaround that can be used to prevent conflicted copies is to move the file out of the Dropbox folder while editing it. Doing this causes the file to appear as deleted and doesn't allow other users to edit the file. Once you're done editing, you can move the file back into its original location in the Dropbox folder. It will reappear with your edits for all users who have access to that file.

The other option is to move it to a second folder designated for "In Use" files. Other members of the shared folder can still access it if they need to, but will know not to make changes.

Also try disabling any anti-virus or any other program and application that could be keeping the file open as you want to sync the file. If any other program or user is accessing the file, a conflicted copy will be created.

I hope this helps!

Nery D.
New member | Level 1

Nathan - were you ever able to correct your problem. I am having the same problem and have not figured out how to fix it.

Tamie W.
New member | Level 1

No good, Marie--I have a similar problem on my end, and while your list makes plenty of sense it doesn't seem to be solving the problem.

Just for the sake of description (because I don't know if Nathan's group problem is quite like my single-user problem) here is the pattern I'm seeing:

  • Move files into DropBox on Computer A.
  • Wait until syncing/uploading is completed.
  • Shut down Computer A.
  • Boot up Computer B.
  • Open DropBox on Computer B.
  • Wait until files are finished syncing/downloading.
  • Remove files from DropBox on Computer B.
  • Wait until DropBox is finished syncing again.
  • Shut down Computer B.
  • Go to bed/work/etc.
  • 12 hours later, boot up Computer A, start up DropBox.

At this point, the files should not be in DropBox because there was never any conflict, no two computers were ever running at the same time and therefore no two instances of DropBox (or the files themselves) were in use at the same time--the files were not being edited by multiple users, just moved from one computer to the other--and all syncing was completed before anything was shut down or anything else started up.

And yet.... all of those files are still in DropBox on Computer A, but with the added label "Computer A's conflicted copy." And that's IN ADDITION to the ones found in the unsyncable cache in DropBox's root folder.

The only explanation I can come up with is that shutting down DropBox needs to be a separate step from shutting down the computer... but since the syncing is already completed, why should this part matter?

Pavel K.10
New member | Level 2

Dropbox guys, you really cannot do something about it? It is so simple: every file has date, hour and second when was created - file with last date matter, others are dismissed.

I lost few weeks work thank to you - I have c# projects and code in dropbox, thus I can acces them from different computers. Then happened that i started my old notebook with linux and installed dropbox, and your genial app replaced new files with few weeks old for some reason. THIS PROBLEM CAN SOLVE EVERY CODING 15 YEAR OLD BOY, WEAK UP, UNTIL IS NOT TOO LATE!!!!!

Richard T.11
New member | Level 2

I can relate to Nathan's problem. It's just not an option to follow the open and save routine for thousands of files.

Dropbox: PLEASE add a feature "Remove Conflicted Copies (older than xx days)" to your future software version! This will help many of your paid users (as multiple issues are reported on this forum).

Scott M.74
New member | Level 2

You guys at Dropbox are killing me. There's a serious bug in this conflicted copy "safeguard". Tonight, I started cleaning up a temporary folder I use on my main machine (running Kubuntu). The only other machine that's on right now is a Windows box and it's idle. NO FILES ARE OPEN on that box. I delete a file on the Linux machine. Seconds later, it reappears, calling itself a "windows conflicted copy". How the hell does that happen? The only workaround is to disable syncing on the Windows machine until after I'm done deleting files. But guess what? As soon as I turn it back on for the Windows machine, all the files I deleted on the Linux box ARE BACK! What SHOULD happen is the Windows machine should see that the files on the Linux machine are NO LONGER THERE and then delete them from Windows. But no. Instead, Dropbox sees that the Linux machine is "missing" some files the Windows box has, so the Windows box starts dutifully uploading them and the the Linux box is happy to download them. Can't your damned server see that I've DELETED the file and then handle it appropriately by DELETING IT everywhere else? It seems simple to me!
Every now and then, I'll go into a folder I haven't opened in a while, and there's a whole shitload of 'em. And don't even get me started on this "case conflict" nonsense when it's DROPBOX that's creating files with the WRONG CASE! But like I said, don't get me started as that's a separate issue (except for when Dropbox - all by its lonesome, starts creating "case conflict conflicting files"! Yep. I see those too.
I've never understood how file syncing can be so complicated. I see this in browsers that sync bookmarks too. Every once in a while, I go into a folder in bookmarks (Firefox) and there are 4 copies of every bookmark! I gave up on Opera years ago for the same reason. This seems to suggest a fundamental flaw with the current "state of the art" in file synchronization. Tonight, I'm forced to uninstall Dropbox on the Windows machine. I'll reinstall it tomorrow and see what happens.

EDIT: FWIW, the next morning, I turned on the laptop (also running Kubuntu). In this instance, Dropbox DID work correctly. It deleted the files I wanted gone. That tells me it's either a timing issue or a problem with the code in the Windows version. Perhaps a corrupted database somewhere? I don't know but for $10/mo. I expect it to work.

Richard M.41
New member | Level 1

This is an awful system. One of my colleagues now has file names with so many instances of "conflicted" in them that the files (or the folders in which they are contained) cannot be deleted or renamed because the file names are too long. Dropbox has managed to bring Windows7/10 to a crashing halt. Well done, and great way to build a customer base (like trying to get help for this!)

Charles B.28
New member | Level 1

I, too, use DropBox for source code. The files are not shared with other people, and I can't sit down on two computers at once. Even when edits are days apart, I still regularly get conflicted copies for no apparent reason, even when edits are done ONLY on one computer!

Richard M.41
New member | Level 1

What is really frustrating is that no one from DropBox seems to address this issue that clearly affects many people. My wife's team stopped using Dropbox because of the conflicted copy issue (and the fact that the conflicted copies were all corrupted and unreadable). Pretty poor performance in an arena that now has a lot of competition. 

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