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How to manually stop sync of a folder, but still retain local copy?

Helpful | Level 6

I've run into an apparent change in behavior with the way selective sync works. It's creating problems for my photography business and I'd appreciate any help that anyone could provide.

For the last few years, I've used Dropbox to sync Lightroom catalogs across the various computers that we use for photo editing. We want the latest versions of the Lightroom catalogs to be accessible to all computers, but there is one sub-folder within the catalog that we un-sync: the photo previews. 

Each time a photo is edited in a catalog, Lightroom creates a small preview file within a subfolder of the catalog. In a given day, several thousand preview files are modified or created, and if they are all syncing across all computers, it fills up our Dropbox quota quickly, and clogs up our network with upload/download traffic throughout the day.

For the last decade or so, we have solved this by using Selective Sync to un-sync that previews folder, so each computer creates their own version of the previews, which aren't shared across the network. 

However, some semi-recent change in the Selective Sync behavior has made it so that when you un-sync a folder from a local disk, rather than no longer uploading it to Dropbox (an intentional grey sync icon is applied), the local version of the folder is deleted but the files remain on the cloud – this is effectively the opposite behavior of how it previously worked!

Strangely, any Lightroom catalogs and previews created before this change (whenever it was; we're not sure exactly) still have the grey "not syncing" icon (which is what we want), but any new catalogs created are forcing us to sync every single preview file, every time we tweak a photo in the slightest, and it's hugely problematic.

I'm disappointed in Dropbox for completely reversing the behavior of this core function, and will have to move our business to a different cloud sync service if we can't find a remedy.

If anyone can help me find a way to stop uploading a folder to Dropbox, but still retain a local copy, it would be a huge help.

78 Replies

Re: How to manually stop sync of a folder, but still retain local copy?

Dropboxer
Dropboxer
Hi Garrett, the folder deletion is actually the default behavior for selective sync.
 
When a folder is unsynced, it should delete the local copy of the folder, and keep the online copy untouched and not syncing to the machine.
 
If a local folder isn’t automatically deleted, it can be for various reasons, such as too many files in the folder to delete, permissions issues, or some other factor. This is when you get the grey minus symbol appear on the folder and files. 
 
Is it not possible to use Smart Sync, assuming you’re on a paid plan, to have the local folder ‘appear’ on the machine, which not taking up any space? This will allow you to amend photos you want to change, and sync with the site when needed.
 
Keep me posted!

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


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Re: How to manually stop sync of a folder, but still retain local copy?

Helpful | Level 6

Jay, I understand that. However, this didn't used to be the way Selective Sync worked – this is a recent change. It seems like you don't understand what I am asking about, nor what I wrote, nor what I need from this product (which has been part of the product offering for a very long time, until recently).

How do I retain a local copy but stop it from syncing to Dropbox?

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Re: How to manually stop sync of a folder, but still retain local copy?

Dropboxer
Dropboxer
I understood your question and the behavior that you’re experiencing, however, since it was introduced selective sync always removed the local copy of the folder, as the article stated.
 
The fact that until now it was leaving the local copy of the folder with a grey minus symbol, and not deleting it completely, means that it wasn’t working as it should. 
 
The main feature of selective sync is to prevent folders from appearing on your local machine (meaning they wouldn’t sync or take up space), so there should never have been a local copy to begin with, as this could later cause selective sync conflicts.
 
Since the app and feature are working as they should, there isn’t an easy way for you to keep a local copy of your folder, while not syncing. You’ll need to keep a copy of the folder elsewhere, unsync the folder, recreate the folder name (so the minus symbol appears) and then move the files from within the backup folder back into the same location as before.
 
Hope this helps to clarify matters.

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


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Re: How to manually stop sync of a folder, but still retain local copy?

Helpful | Level 6

You're not providing a reasonable solution. This is deeply disappointing, and I'm going to need to find another product for our business needs.

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Re: How to manually stop sync of a folder, but still retain local copy?

New member | Level 2

Hi, I think that a workaround is to copy the folder that you want to keep in another location (out of the dropbox folder) and then stop the syncing for that folder.

You will have a local copy (outside of dropbox folder) that is not synced and the synced one in dropbox.

Have a nice day!

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Re: How to manually stop sync of a folder, but still retain local copy?

Helpful | Level 6
The previews files are nested within a folder that is inside of the Lightroom catalog project file. There is no way to maintain Lightroom functionality without the folder being in the correct location.

This feature literally worked millions of times, over almost a decade, before the Selective Sync functionality changed. Many photographers used to use it as I have described, and I’m sure that more and more will begin asking for the old functionality back.

Meanwhile, Mega appears to allow me a lot more control over syncing. I was able to move my Lightroom catalogs into Mega Sync, and specify a filetype (.lrprev) that I want it to ignore when uploading, and it seems to be working flawlessly.

Dropbox devs, please take note!
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Re: How to manually stop sync of a folder, but still retain local copy?

Dropboxer
Dropboxer

Could you let me know when this behavior changed for you? An approximate date would help us look into it further.

Additionally, would it be okay if we reached out to the email associated with your forum profile to investigate?

Thanks in advance!


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


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Re: How to manually stop sync of a folder, but still retain local copy?

Helpful | Level 6

This is unresolved. There has not been an acceptable solution proposed. I moved to Mega and have the behavior I need there. I'm deeply disappointed that this was flagged as resolved.

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Re: How to manually stop sync of a folder, but still retain local copy?

Super User II

It's marked as resolved because Selective Sync has always worked the way @Jay describes it in his reply; when you uncheck a folder, it's removed from the local drive. It even warns of this in the Selective Sync window.

a787cc356971797ff533950abf98c8cd.png

The fact that your folder wasn't being removed is indicitive of a problem that was occuring on your computer. Whatever that problem was, you're obviously no longer experiencing it as the local folder is being removed as it should be. Again, this is how Selective Sync has always worked. There has been no change in that behavior.

Now, that's not to say that you can't still accomplish what you're after. It just takes an additional step. When a folder is removed from your computer using Selective Sync, if you create a new folder with the same name in the same location, it will get the grey icon and will not sync.

This is a folder that I just removed in Selective Sync. I waited for Dropbox to remove the local copy from my drive, then I created a new folder with the same name in the same location as the original.

ce237754135f8be4bb4de57d1587a779.png

The result is a local, non-syncing folder in the same location as the original. This is called a Selective Sync Conflict.

If you temporarily copy the original subfolder (with its content) to another location on your drive, then remove the original with Selective Sync, you can likely move the copy back to its original locaiton without it syncing.

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How to manually stop sync of a folder, but still retain local copy?
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