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Why is Smart Sync downloading my files?

Helpful | Level 5

I am trying out Dropbox Professional and the Smart Sync function. I noticed that if I open a file that is set as "Online-only", even just to preview (such as a photo), when I close the file it now defaults to "Local". If I want it "Online-only" again, I have to right-click and select the option.

I guess this is the normal behavior, but why would I want that? This means that if I want to keep my files in an "Online-only" state, I can't actually open them on my computer. If I forget to go through the right-click procedure, then I end up having random files scattered about that are local.

Is there any way to automatically keep certain files "Online-only", even after viewing them? For example, having a special folder that, no matter what, always keeps its contents in an "Online-only" state, even if I open them.

It doesn't work like that on mobile devices, does it? Is every file I preview on my iPad going to end up permanently stored on it?

Thanks ahead of time,

David

1 Accepted Solution

Accepted Solutions
Highlighted

Re: Smart Sync Downloading of Files

Dropboxer
Dropboxer
Hey there David (@relayer).
 
When opening a file on your computer that is set as online only, Dropbox will need to sync that file as local to be able to open it. So if you are double clicking the file to “preview” it, it will actually open the file, which is why it becomes local. 
 
While the smart synced files are not expected to preview (as they are only placeholder files), what I could suggest you try to preview the files rather than open them would be to do this:
Windows: From the file explorer, click View from the top left and then “Preview pane”, then click on a file.
Mac: Open the file with the Quick Look (select the file and press the space bar).
 
Also, currently there isn’t a way to have files/folders automatically change back to online only as there wouldn’t be a way for the app to recognize if you are, for example, finished working on a file. However, I would be more than happy to pass this along as feedback to our dev team for review. 
 
Finally, on mobile devices, opening a files from your account will not download it to your device. It is similar to the way you would view a file on the web rather than the desktop.
 
Hope this clarifies the matter for you - Cheers!

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


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4 Replies 4
Highlighted

Re: Smart Sync Downloading of Files

Dropboxer
Dropboxer
Hey there David (@relayer).
 
When opening a file on your computer that is set as online only, Dropbox will need to sync that file as local to be able to open it. So if you are double clicking the file to “preview” it, it will actually open the file, which is why it becomes local. 
 
While the smart synced files are not expected to preview (as they are only placeholder files), what I could suggest you try to preview the files rather than open them would be to do this:
Windows: From the file explorer, click View from the top left and then “Preview pane”, then click on a file.
Mac: Open the file with the Quick Look (select the file and press the space bar).
 
Also, currently there isn’t a way to have files/folders automatically change back to online only as there wouldn’t be a way for the app to recognize if you are, for example, finished working on a file. However, I would be more than happy to pass this along as feedback to our dev team for review. 
 
Finally, on mobile devices, opening a files from your account will not download it to your device. It is similar to the way you would view a file on the web rather than the desktop.
 
Hope this clarifies the matter for you - Cheers!

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


Heart Did this post help you? If so, please give it a Like below.
Still stuck? Ask me a question!
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View solution in original post

Highlighted

Re: Smart Sync Downloading of Files

Helpful | Level 5

Daphne,

Thank you for your response. I certainly think it would be a good feature to have. It shouldn't be difficult to have an option to set a folder (or file) as "Always online". When you open a file in that folder that is marked "Online-only",  it downloads it temporarily, and then when you're finished with it Dropbox automatically switches it back to "Online-only" (just as if I had right-clicked and selected that option). This is kind of what happens when you open a file from the Web. The file may not be "downloaded" and saved on your computer in the traditional sense, but it is downloaded to a temporary or cached location while you view it.

Thanks again,

David

Highlighted

Smart Sync randomly downloads

Explorer | Level 4

This has been an issue for a while and in every post I've found, Dropbox punts.

My smart sync CONSTANTLY and RANDOMLY downloads stuff from Online Only and ALL Dropbox does is blame it on the other Apps.  This is NO EXCUSE.  Dropbox created this service, so DROPBOX SHOULD MAKE IT WORK.   I may have an App open, but Dropbox needs to figure out how to PREVENT things from going Local that have not SPECIFICALLY been selected for Download.  If I have delineated something as ONLINE ONLY then DROPBOX should figure out how to make that file REMAIN Online Only until it is SPECIFICALLY selected for moving to Local.  This is INCREDIBLY ANNOYING.

Sorry for the ALL CAPS but this has been FRUSTRATING me for a WHILE.

Highlighted

Re: Smart Sync randomly downloads

Super User II
Super User II

Smart Sync is working as intended.

When you mark a file as Online-only, Dropbox removes the file from your local drive and leaves behind a place holder file. If you try to open or access that file, Dropbox downloads it back to the computer and marks it as Local.

Now, it doesn't have to be YOU that accesses the file. Any application or service that attempts to access the file will cause Dropbox to download it and mark it as Local again. This is SUPPOSED to happen because the file cannot be accessed while Online-only. Dropbox can't (and it's not its job to) determine whether it's you accessing a file or some other process. All it knows is that a file has been requested, so it's delivered.

You'll see this a lot with backups, virus scans, applications that build thumbanils of a folder of files, etc. ANYTHING that accesses a file will cause it to be downloaded again, and this is by design.

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