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My experiences with SmartSync - bummer....

My experiences with SmartSync - bummer....

New member | Level 2

SmartSync is a great idea. Saves a lot of Disk Space. Yeah.. But it does not work reliably. Not for me at least. Your mileage may vary.

I have 3 Dropbox Plus accounts and about a dozen free accounts. I do share folders between those and finally I sync onto my own Dropbox Plus account. Not so much on data, but in my dropbox account it's about 120GB. I have some additional data over on OneDrive (Business). About 200GB. There are historical reasons for that.

Dropbox client version 85.3.138 on all involved machines. I do have 2 Windows 10 at work, one of it virtualized with limited disk space. In addition a business laptop and yet another virtualized Windows 10 at home. 

Here are my experiences with SmartSync:

  • On a machine where I do sync everything (120GB), I selected some larger folders to be online only. Worth about 60GB, I should save 50% on disk space. First of all, it took about 2 days until Dropbox would stay quite. In this 2 days, I won about 30% on disk space. 
    • In OneDrive, I do have all of the data only online. Just to compare, I selected about 50GB to be offline on my disk. That took about two hours to download. Then I selected those 50GB again to be online only. This took about 20 Minutes. 
  • Looking at the remaining Dropbox files, they still take quite some space. Between 1% and 20% of the original size. Probably depends on the file type.
    • The OneDrive foldersize reports 100% local, even if the files are just online. TreeSize Free showed me that the actual local disk space was nearly zero.
  • When syncing occurs and SmartSynced folders are involved, explorer starts to flicker until the sync is done. During that time, I usually have to open another explorer window to continue to work.
  • Switching a folder from offline to online and vice-versa needs a lot of patience. The effect is not immediate and might take up considerable time, even to start. 
    • With OneDrive I see immediately something happening. I see the syncing, thereas in Dropbox I just see number of files counted up or down. After some time..
  • As I have limited disk space on the virtual Windows 10 machines, I do only selectively sync some folders. As per instruction, I selected additional folders that should become visible, but stay online. This seemed to work and I went away. Some time later, I got an alert that diskspace on the virtual machine was full. When I checked, I found that Dropbox had not kept the additional folder online, but actually downloaded it. Twice! There was an additional copy of each file in the hidden .dropbox.cache folder. I was not able to recover the space with SmartSync settings on the folder (set to online only). This either took too long or just would do nothing. I was also unsuccessful with de-selecting the folders in the selective sync config screen. It would just not give up the local disk space. At the end, I had to disconnect the account from the local dropbox, then manually delete the files, and finally reconnect again and let the selected folders resync again. 
  • Even today, on my main PC with plenty of disk space, SmartSync seems to switch itself on or of on certain folders. Very annoying. 

Today I lost hours on something I have to admit, is partially my own doing. Or my stupidity perhaps. 

Instead of using Sandboxie and Virustotal, I executed an unknown file on my disk. Fortunately it did not contain a virus, but it produced a strange error. Concerned, I wanted to start some troubleshooting tools (which are located in one of the dropbox folders). 

I was not able to start them. The system could not access the files. (dropbox was happily running, by the way). I downloaded fresh copies of the tools from the ( website, and then I checked several other files, then folders, then found that none of the .docx, .xlsx, .txt files were working anymore. Not all of my folders were acting like this, thus I made a wrong conclusion. I assumed I had stopped an ongoing cryptovirus when I killed some flaky processes. 

After hours of troubleshooting, restoring backup, always finding again the files not accessible, it dawned on me... The "crypted/damaged/whatever" files were always only in the dropbox folders. 

SmartSync has shown some hidden talent to confuse me. Actually, what I found out is that SmartSync/dropbox made those files not accessible for me. No file was encrypted. Just dropbox did not let me access those files and folders. Shame on me.

I disconnected dropbox, removed all the local files, connected dropbox again without enabling SmartSync. Now all files are accessible again.

I won't use SmartSync anymore. It just does not work as expected. 

What experiences do you have?




1 Reply 1

Betreff: My experiences with SmartSync - bummer....

New member | Level 2

Seems nobody but me has any experiences...

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