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Dropbox hammering the same four Windows registry values forever

Explorer | Level 4

I've been having the popular "constant high CPU usage, even when finished syncing" on Windows 10.  I checked the list of seven possible causes and none of them apply (except maybe "lots of files" with around 300k files).  There aren't any symlinks.

To see what Dropbox might have been up to, I ran Microsoft's "Process Monitor" utility.  It appears the process is checking the same four registry entries in a loop, hundreds of times a second.  (This admittedly makes many normal operations take much longer--like right-clicking the desktop and waiting 5+ seconds for the context menu--because Dropbox is essentially performing a denial of service attack on the kernel by flooding it with Win32 registry calls.)

The registry values are:

  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\MyComputer\NameSpace\ValidateRegItems
  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\MyComputer\NameSpace\MonitorRegistry
  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Desktop\NameSpace\ValidateRegItems
  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Desktop\NameSpace\MonitorRegistry

ProcessMonitor.png

I couldn't find any documentation on what those registry entries are, should have for values, or anything else about them anywhere on the Internet.

The Dropbox process' memory usage also appears to slowly grow without bound until after ~40 minutes, it crashes once it hits 4GB or so.

This is a new install on a new machine.  I copied my old Dropbox folder from the previous computer (over the network, manually) then installed the Dropbox client and pointed it at the copied folder.  It was working fine until after the first reboot.  I eventually found the community post about resetting permissions.  That didn't change any behavior.  From very nearly after the app is started right up until it crashes, those four registry entries are constantly assaulted.

If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Dropbox v86.4.146 / Windows 10 Pro

3 Replies

Re: Dropbox hammering the same four Windows registry values forever

Dropboxer

Hey @Falonn, I greatly appreciate the detailed description of the issue and the screenshot. 

We have a new Dropbox install on a new device,  a loop of Dropbox entries in your activity monitor, high CPU usage an the app crashing eventually. thinking face

How did you point the Dropbox desktop app to the copied folder? 

When you say you backed up your old Dropbox folder from the network manually. Can you you let me know more about this? A step by step walkthrough would be super helpful. Please, name any third party services, apps involved.

Finally, please provide me with the Community post that helped you change permissions. 

Once I have all the info on the matter I will help you solve this. tools

Thank you! 


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


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Re: Dropbox hammering the same four Windows registry values forever

Explorer | Level 4

I found most of the advice (including the permissions reset under #3), on this page.

The copy was done using xcopy (specifically, from the new computer, over a network share "xcopy /b /c /e /h /i /k /s /x /y /z Dropbox D:\Dropbox") and again for the AppData\Local\Dropbox folder.  I was hoping everything would just carry over automatically.  At first, it appeared to work just fine.  During the first launch wizard, it even had my selective sync folders correct already.  I believe my "installation" method is unrelated, but I do see your point that there are a lot of non-standard moving parts in my problem description.

So, over the weekend, I tried to simplify my case to rule as much out as possible:

  1. I uninstalled Dropbox on the new machine, made sure the D:\Dropbox folder and the AppData\Local\Dropbox folder were completely deleted, and wiped out any lingering mentions of Dropbox I could find in the registry.
  2. On the old computer, I spent a few hours trimming the number of files down considerably.  (There were several groups of a few (or ten!) thousand small files I wasn't actively working with that made sense to zip into a single file instead.)
  3. I let those changes (bringing my Dropbox file count down from 330k to 140k) completely finish syncing overnight.
  4. I performed a clean install of Dropbox on the new machine, pointed it at D:\Dropbox and let it do everything itself (using LAN sync).

I'm still a few hours out from that initial sync completing, but the registry craziness started again almost as soon as the app was launched.

Looking more closely, (now that the sync is down to just the bigger files and things are moving a little more slowly), that pattern of four registry checks seems to be happening four to six times per synced file.  If you include the surrounding hkey open/close calls, that means Dropbox is making 144 registry calls to the Windows kernel per synched file, which seems a little... abusive.

Filtering out all but one of the calls, you can see each block of events grouped by timestamp:

timestamps.png

With the Dropbox popup open at the same time, you can see the burst of activity happen at the same time the "Syncing X files" counter changes.

I might suggest you cache those four values instead of attacking the computer. winking face

We'll see after the sync is complete whether it continues.  With about 1,600 (of the largest) files to go out of 140k, the Dropbox process is sitting at "only" 1.8GB of RAM, so we may be able to chalk the crashing up to the large file count.  That simplifies the story even more.

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Re: Dropbox hammering the same four Windows registry values forever

Dropboxer

I am sorry to hear that the advanced reinstall you performed did not help. unamused face

I am happy to read this post though, because I have all the information I need to work on this with our team. 

I am creating a ticket for you now, please respond there whenever you get the time. 

Thank you so much for your efforts and patience! 


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


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Dropbox hammering the same four Windows registry values forever
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