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Dropbox sync stalling on Big Sur

Dropbox sync stalling on Big Sur

dacX
Helpful | Level 6

Dropbox has always worked well for me -- until I updated my (very new) iMac to macOS "Big Sur" (11.1) about a month ago.

 

The issue in a nutshell is that Dropbox will upload changed files for a little bit after starting, then stall entirely, or slow to a creep.  It's a little tricky to characterize, because it's not consistent.  A few times I quit Dropbix and restarted it and (judging from the "Recent" activity listing in the menubar dropdown) a few files would quickly upload, but then would stall and nothing else would upload, or a few items at random.  The little wheel at the bottom of that dropdpwn is turning and says "Syncing XXX files", but nothing seems to happen, and the number of files just keeps going up ... and down ... and up ... it's very difficult to tell what's actually happening or what Dropbx is doing because there doesn't appear to be a sync log I can access.  I've tried quitting and deleting the Dropbox app and re-installing.  A couple of times when I've done that there would be a burst of upload activity, but then it would stall again, but I can't even get that to happen consistently.  Of course Iv'e tried the usual things like restarting and so forth.

 

Another reason it's difficult to in down is that the behavior is so erratic.  In one instance a file I put in a particualr Dropbox folder uploaded right away.  But in that same folder are things I added WEEKS ago now that have yet to sync.   If there's a pattern or characteristic common to things that are not uploading, or when or why Dropbox stalls, or how to kick-start those bursts of uploadeds, I can't identify it.  (No clues in "View sync issues".  Just a few Outlook emoji that won't upload because they have an emoji in the file name.)

 

I'm feeling stytmied.   Suggestions as to things to try welcome, or tools to help figure out what Dropbox is doing or trying to do to help narrow down the issue.  (I have  about 1.6 TB worth of stuff in Dropbox, though, so solutions that involve re-uploading everything from scratch will not be particularly welcome.)

 

I've Googled around and not been able to identify others with similar issues. 

 

Thanks.

1 Accepted Solution

Accepted Solutions

Re: Dropbox sync stalling on Big Sur

dacX
Helpful | Level 6

Ok, time to summarize the situation.  (Punchline: problem seems to be fixed!  Here's how.)

 

Side issue: the steps to fix permissions now work with an update to the Dropbox app itself.  (Namely, open Dropbox preferences, go to the Account tab, and hold the option key (on a Mac) to see the options to Fix Permissions or Fix Hardlinks.  Be aware that when you click those buttons there's no visual feedback anything's happening, but if you wait a while you should get a message the operation has been successful (or presumably not, if not).  That did not, however, fix my particular problem of Dropbox sync stalling after just a few files every time it restarted.  But at least the option is now available on Big Sur if needed in the future.)

 

After being bumped to a couple of higher levels of support...  [One of the lower levels, I kid you not, tried to argue that the issue I was having was because Dropbox was bad at what it does, and it was unreasonable of me to expect Dropbox to backup a lot of stuff.  In spite of the fact that Dropbox tries to upsell me to a larger Dropbox every time I login.  But anyway...]  ... support suggested unlinking Dropbox online from the machine exhibiting the problem and then re-linking it.  This worked!   And it did not require re-uploading all of my stuff (somewhat less than 2TB), or an unreasonable amount of time, both of which I had feared.  But since the only alternative was switching to another backup solution (my planned next step), I was willing to give it a try.

 

Here are the steps I took:

1) Login to Dropbox.com

2) Click on my avatar [top right] and choose Settings

3) Select the Security tab and scroll down to Devices

4) Find the device exhibiting the problem and click the trash bin icon to the far right.  [Note: this was a bit scary -- I was concerned Dropbox might do something nutty like remove files on my home device.  I proceeded after reading the information under "Learn more", which promises it won't do that.  Still, if you're smart you'll have a complete backup before proceeding.]

5) Click "Unlink" in the resulting dialogue.  [Do NOT tick the scary checkbox.]

6) Wait a few minutes while Dropbox on the affected machine spins around in confusion.

7) When a dialogue pops up asking to re-enter your account information on the affected machine, do so.

 

At that point Dropbox on the affected machine began furiously re-indexing my Dropbox (/not/ re-uploading everything, which I had been fearful of), and within an hour or two had completed re-indexing everything in my Dropbox, synced all the stuff that hadn't synced over the last couple of months (with the expected assortment of "conflicted copies" of some things, so be sure to check carefully which is the one you want to keep -- in my case, it was always the "conflicted copies"), and for the first time in months finally reported itself as "Up to date".  It's been a few days and Dropbox has been humming along happily ever since, syncing my stuff more or less instantaneously as it always had up to the point this problem began (when I updated the machine in question to Big Sur).

 

So I'm going to report this as "solved" for now!  Thank you for everyone's assistance.  Even the nice person who said Dropbox was bad at what it does 😉 

 

[If they want to be taken seriously -- and to keep taking people's money to provide, you know, a file backup and sync solution --  they really should stop saying that.]

View solution in original post

42 Replies 42

Re: Dropbox sync stalling on Big Sur

Daphne
Dropboxer

Hi @dacX, thanks for reaching out to us here!

 

Just so I can have a better idea of your current setup, can you send me a screenshot of the current sync status of the app?

 

Has the sync status showed "up to date" recently, or does it appear to always get stuck on "syncing" at some point?

 

Also, what version of the app do you have installed?

 

Looking forward to your reply!


Daphne
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
dropbox.com/support


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Re: Dropbox sync stalling on Big Sur

dacX
Helpful | Level 6

Thanks for getting back to me.

 

The "current sync status" says "checking for updates".    This is what it has said for WEEKS now.  (Once, the very first time I tried re-installing Dropbox, it showed some files for a while, but it didn't stay that way.) Screen Shot 2021-01-20 at 12.29.48 AM.png

 

The number of files it says it's syncing goes up and down.  While I've been typing this it went from the 180 in the screenshot to 181.   Earlier in the day the number listed was in the thousands.   (When you hold down the option key and click on the Dropbix menubar item it actually says "indexing 181 files", so maybe there's something messed up with the indexing process or index itself?)  At no time in over the past month has it shown "up to date" on this machine.  The "recent files" list frequently shows the most recent file as added hours or even days ago.  In Activity Monitor Dropbox shows a pretty consistent 10%-ish CPU activity. 

 

It's hard to make sense of, because some things DO apparently sync, but on the other hand there are items that haven't synced in a month now that are in the same folder as items that have.  Dropbox has been a reliable partner for me for years, but this has me frustrated.  I have two other computers also upgraded to Big Sur that have not had this problem.

 

Preferences says v113.4.507.  I have downloaded a new installer an re-installed the app several times.  (I also found and deleted the cache in ~/Dropbox/.dropbox.cache as I saw recommended in another post, and like other things I've tried this got Dropbox "unstuck" briefly before it stalled again.)

 

Any help will be welcome.  Thanks!

Re: Dropbox sync stalling on Big Sur

Daphne
Dropboxer
Thanks for the additional info @dacX, it's very helpful.

Can you try out these steps to see if that does the trick? 

You might need to allow the app some time to apply the changes, but you should see the sync status changing if the syncing starts to progress.

Daphne
Community Moderator @ Dropbox
dropbox.com/support


Heart Did this post help you? If so, please give it a Like below.
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Re: Dropbox sync stalling on Big Sur

dacX
Helpful | Level 6

Thanks for the advice @Daphne .  Actually, I found that advice over a month ago and bookmarked it.  However, even though I've tried many variations on it, the problem begins at step 5: no variation I have tried of modifier key combinations, spacebar, holding the key(s) before selecting or after, has changed the contents of the "Account" tab in any way.   It always looks just the same.

 

Screen Shot 2021-01-22 at 7.52.46 PM.png

Hence, I've found no way to "Fix Hardlinks" or "Fix Permissions".   I'd be happy to try it if the secret to accessing them can be revealed!

(I should add that on at least one other Dropbox community page I saw that had this same advice, other users said the same thing -- that they didn't see these options appear.)  As I noted previously, I have installed the Dropbox app again multiple times.

 

So, thank you, but ... any suggestion as to how to make these options available?

Re: Dropbox sync stalling on Big Sur

tomsamuels
Helpful | Level 5

I'm having the exact same problem on my Big Sur. Could this be more widespread than it appears? If there's no solution to this problem, is it fair to make Dropbox users downgrade to Catalina, just to make Dropbox work? I'm looking at switching to another service at the moment.

Re: Dropbox sync stalling on Big Sur

zip99
Helpful | Level 5

I also have the exact same issue on 2 mac's with bigsur. Tried the same steps, and stuck on sync

Re: Dropbox sync stalling on Big Sur

zip99
Helpful | Level 5

worked with support and discovered I was on an early release version ( I had forgotten I opped into this in the past). Disabled that then did a re-install with the main version and all my issues went away. 

Re: Dropbox sync stalling on Big Sur

dacX
Helpful | Level 6

That's interesting information.  Thank you for sharing it!  I have not, however, opted-in to getting early release versions.  (How did you discover this?)

 

You say you "Disabled that then did a re-install with the main version".  Did you just quit, trash the Dropbox app, and re-install from an installer downloaded from the web site?  Or was it something more complicated than that? 

 

Thanks!

Re: Dropbox sync stalling on Big Sur

ceeeeeeej
New member | Level 2

I have big issues as well.

Just updated my 2019 5k iMac to Big Sur.

 

It has been a nightmare for business, as I share a tonne of content and files with my team each and every day. I usually do that from finder, but I can't because the options aren't showing in the right click menu and files aren't syncing properly.

 

Nightmare!

Hoping there's an easy fix for this, because I just reset permissions and hardlinks and that hasn't solved it.

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