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How does Smart Sync work & what's the difference between Local & Online-only?

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How does Smart Sync work & what's the difference between Local & Online-only?

Explorer | Level 4

I do not understand the difference between how my old "regular" dropbox works, and how my new "smart sync" works. 

I do understand that I have a  choice to leave everything in the cloud or locally, but if I am working between two different computers (one at work, and one at home).

With respect to the technical aspect of a file's location and accessability, what exactly happens if I don't select either? 

What happens to the file if I select "Local Only"? 

What happens to the file if I select "Online Only"?

I am sorry to be so obtuse, but I could use some assistance.  Thank you very much!

2 Accepted Solutions

Accepted Solutions
Highlighted

Re: Smart Sync

Super User II

@Lissa_V_Young wrote:

I do not understand the difference between how my old "regular" dropbox works, and how my new "smart sync" works.


First thing to remember is that regular Dropbox is just a folder on your computer like any other. Anything you put in the folder exists ON your computer, taking up disk space like any other file or folder. It is not a cloud-based folder where everything in it only exists online and you're accessing things directly on Dropbox's servers.

 

Smart Sync adds the ability to mark a file or folder as Online-only. Doing this will remove the file from your computer but leaves behind reference to the original. In other words, the file appears as though it's on your computer but it's really not. The only space used by the file is a very tiny amount for the reference. If you try to access that file, Dropbox first downloads it back to your computer, marks is as a Local file and then it's opened as usual, seamlessly. When you're done working on the file, if you no longer need it to be local, you just mark it as online-only again.

 


With respect to the technical aspect of a file's location and accessability, what exactly happens if I don't select either?

A file has to be either Local or Online-only.

 


What happens to the file if I select "Local Only"?


The file exists on your computer taking up disk space just as it always has.

 


What happens to the file if I select "Online Only"?

The file is removed from your computer to save disk space, and a reference file is left in its place so that you can still open the file just as you always have. When you open it, the file is downloaded by Dropbox and marked as Local.

View solution in original post

Highlighted

Re: How does Smart Sync work & what's the difference between Local & Online-only?

Dropboxer
Hey Lissa V. Y., it’ll be a pleasure to send over some tips to make things a bit more clear to you & we’ll take it from there; thanks for checking in on our Community with that question! 
 
Simply put, if you choose to make your files Local , you choose to keep a physical copy of the file on your pc or Mac. 
 
On the other hand, if you make these files Online-only ☁️, then you’re merely keeping a  placeholder file, that should take up approximately 0kb locally & it’s just a preview of your original file, that’s still available on your account online
 
From there, depending on your needs, you may combine our Selective Sync & Smart Sync features to save up some space & keep only the files you really need available across your devices. 
 
Hopefully my tips are helpful to you, though I’m always here to clarify in more detail if needed, so please keep me updated on how this advice works for you whenever you get a chance & we’ll take it from there. Happy Friday & take care in the meantime! 

 


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

 

Heart Did this post help you? If so please give it a Like below. 
 Did this post fix your issue/answer your question? If so please press the 'Accept as Best Answer' button to help others find it.
 Still stuck? Ask me a question! (
Questions asked in the community will likely receive an answer within 4 hours!)

View solution in original post

17 Replies 17
Highlighted

Re: Smart Sync

Super User II

@Lissa_V_Young wrote:

I do not understand the difference between how my old "regular" dropbox works, and how my new "smart sync" works.


First thing to remember is that regular Dropbox is just a folder on your computer like any other. Anything you put in the folder exists ON your computer, taking up disk space like any other file or folder. It is not a cloud-based folder where everything in it only exists online and you're accessing things directly on Dropbox's servers.

 

Smart Sync adds the ability to mark a file or folder as Online-only. Doing this will remove the file from your computer but leaves behind reference to the original. In other words, the file appears as though it's on your computer but it's really not. The only space used by the file is a very tiny amount for the reference. If you try to access that file, Dropbox first downloads it back to your computer, marks is as a Local file and then it's opened as usual, seamlessly. When you're done working on the file, if you no longer need it to be local, you just mark it as online-only again.

 


With respect to the technical aspect of a file's location and accessability, what exactly happens if I don't select either?

A file has to be either Local or Online-only.

 


What happens to the file if I select "Local Only"?


The file exists on your computer taking up disk space just as it always has.

 


What happens to the file if I select "Online Only"?

The file is removed from your computer to save disk space, and a reference file is left in its place so that you can still open the file just as you always have. When you open it, the file is downloaded by Dropbox and marked as Local.

View solution in original post

Highlighted

Re: How does Smart Sync work & what's the difference between Local & Online-only?

Dropboxer
Hey Lissa V. Y., it’ll be a pleasure to send over some tips to make things a bit more clear to you & we’ll take it from there; thanks for checking in on our Community with that question! 
 
Simply put, if you choose to make your files Local , you choose to keep a physical copy of the file on your pc or Mac. 
 
On the other hand, if you make these files Online-only ☁️, then you’re merely keeping a  placeholder file, that should take up approximately 0kb locally & it’s just a preview of your original file, that’s still available on your account online
 
From there, depending on your needs, you may combine our Selective Sync & Smart Sync features to save up some space & keep only the files you really need available across your devices. 
 
Hopefully my tips are helpful to you, though I’m always here to clarify in more detail if needed, so please keep me updated on how this advice works for you whenever you get a chance & we’ll take it from there. Happy Friday & take care in the meantime! 

 


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

 

Heart Did this post help you? If so please give it a Like below. 
 Did this post fix your issue/answer your question? If so please press the 'Accept as Best Answer' button to help others find it.
 Still stuck? Ask me a question! (
Questions asked in the community will likely receive an answer within 4 hours!)

View solution in original post

Highlighted

Re: Smart Sync

Explorer | Level 4

Thank you to Rich and Jane!  That helps.  

Highlighted

Re: Smart Sync

Dropboxer
Perfect Lissa_V_Young! Glad to hear that this was helpful to you & we appreciate your prompt reply on our discussion here. 
 
We’re always just a message away in case you have further inquiries in the future, so don't hesitate to reach back out here at any time. Again, thanks for posting your question on our Community & I hope you have a lovely week ahead! 😊

 


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

 

Heart Did this post help you? If so please give it a Like below. 
 Did this post fix your issue/answer your question? If so please press the 'Accept as Best Answer' button to help others find it.
 Still stuck? Ask me a question! (
Questions asked in the community will likely receive an answer within 4 hours!)

Highlighted

Re: How does Smart Sync work & what's the difference between Local & Online-only?

New member | Level 2

Is there a way to make it go back online automatically after I'm done? Going back and forth to check online only is a pain and I edit files regularly.

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Re: How does Smart Sync work & what's the difference between Local & Online-only?

Super User II

No. You need to mark it as Online-only yourself when you're done with the file. Dropbox has no way to tell when you're finished with a file. Saving a file isn't a good indicator because you may still be working on it and saving often (which is a best practice).

Highlighted

Re: Smart Sync

New member | Level 2

So, basically, you all removed the free permissions to allow users to save their work at dropbox.com by changing it to "Local" and by charging us to store it online?

I remember a time when I could log into dropbox.com and access my documents for free (the app/local folder) was optional. When did that change?

Highlighted

Re: How does Smart Sync work & what's the difference between Local & Online-only?

Helpful | Level 6

I have recently moved to DropBox Plus (had my arm twisted as a new policy restricts the number of devices). Anyway, From 2010 until now I have been happy with 8GB but now, with 2TB, I decided to use 750GB as a clone of my MacOS Hard Drive. I created the folder (named CLONE) as Online only and started the cloning software (which alerted me to the fact that cloining to a "folder" as opposed to a physical drive might not be optimum). I continued but am now surpised to see that :-

  • On my iMac I see the CLONE folder as an online folder however ALL the child folders are marked with a RED CROSS suggesting a problem
  • If I look at the CLONE folder via DropBox online, the folder is there but states that "This folder is empty" ??? 
  • Despite the CLONE folder being online only, the running of the cloning software have simply DOUBLED the HD space used in my iMac. In other words, the system has done precisely ther OPPOSITE of what was expected!! It was expected that as I populated the CLONE folder on DropBox, it should have populated the CLONE folder in the cloud but NOT populate my local iMac. However, if I look at the size of the folder on my iMac (with all its child folders and files marked with a RED CROSS), the size is stated as ZERO bytes.

Something is clearly wrong. Please advise.

Thanks

John

Highlighted

Re: Smart Sync

Super User II

@rstoker1906 wrote:

So, basically, you all removed the free permissions to allow users to save their work at dropbox.com by changing it to "Local" and by charging us to store it online?


That is not correct. There is still a free Dropbox Basic plan, and that has not changed in features or functionality.

The paid Plus and Professional plans have an additional feature called Smart Sync which allows you to remove files and folders from your local computer while still displaying them on your computer. A Local file is one that is stored locally. An Online-only file is one that only appears on the computer, for reference, but only exists online in your account. Opening the file marks it as Local and re-downloads it.


I remember a time when I could log into dropbox.com and access my documents for free (the app/local folder) was optional. When did that change?


It hasn't changed, at all. Basic (free) accounts can still store their files online just like they always have, and can still access those files on dropbox.com. There's no need to use the Dropbox app on your computer if you don't want to.

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