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How do I enable selective sync on my machine?

Can someone please explain selective sync in layman's terms? I've reinstalled Dropbox on my desktop PC because I wasn't seeing the same thing on PC and ipad or even on PC and when I try to post a photo from Dropbox onto facebook. I selected all folder to sync with computer, but it seems to be actually downloading them. I want to access, not have them reside on this pc. Obviously I don't understand how it works and cannot find a simple explanation. thanks

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Dropboxer
Dropboxer

Re: How to enable selective sync on my machine?

I’ve moved all relevant queries about selective sync here to help users who are new on how this feature works.
 
Selective sync is available to all Dropbox accounts, free or paid. It allows you to deselect folders, thereby preventing them from syncing to your machine.
 
The primary use of this is to free up space, since whenever a folder is unticked in the settings page, the folder itself is deleted from your local machine, and the hard disk space taken up by those files is freed up.
 
To do so, you need to make sure of the following:
  • The files in that folder all have green ticks
  • You have enough hard drive space to make the change
 
The green ticks are there to confirm that the files are the same as the site, so you don’t prematurely apply selective sync and lose any local files forever.
 
Somewhat ironically, to use selective sync to free up space, you’ll need enough space to apply the settings. You can do this by temporarily moving files outside of your Dropbox folder from your hard drive to a USB stick, and then make the change to remove the folder. 
 
Later, you can move those files back when the change is done.
 
For instance, say you have two folders in your Dropbox account, _BACKUP and BACKUP, like so:
 
 all synced.png
 
To use selective sync, click on the icon in the system tray or menu bar, then the gear icon, and Preferences.
 
Click the Sync tab > Choose folders to sync
 
You then get the following prompt. Untick the folders you don’t want to appear on your machine.
 
 selective sync.png
 
Click okay, and then the app will remove the folder from your machine, and you’ll be left with this:
 
 one synced.png
 
The files will still exist on the site however, these settings only affect that machine, and no other.
 
What this means is that if you use a laptop, desktop and netbook, all with the desktop app installed, applying selective sync on the laptop won’t automatically apply it to the desktop and netbook devices.
 
Deleting files from that folder on the desktop or netbook will delete the files from the site, since it is syncing normally. If you don’t want that folder to sync, make sure to apply the selective sync settings as above.
 
There isn’t a way to keep the folders on your machine by default. Why? 
 
The main reason is that keeping a local copy will cause a conflict in future. Either the desktop app was unable to remove the local folder (which can happen rarely), or you recreate the folder name and added files in there.
 
Immediately, the desktop app will see that a folder with that name now exists on your machine, and is unticked in the selective sync settings.
 
To show this, a gray icon with a minus symbol on the folder and any files within:
 
If you later choose to tick the unticked folder, because Dropbox doesn’t know if the files online, or the local files in the folder with the gray minus are ‘correct’ according to you, the folder above is renamed with Selective Sync conflict at the end:
 
This is to prevent data loss. You’ll need to manually check the files you want to keep from both folders, and delete whatever you have to.
 
Hopefully this should help clear up any confusion about how selective sync works!



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


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24 Replies
Dropboxer

Re: Selective sync

 
Hi Lynnda T., welcome to Dropbox Community!
 
Selective sync is a feature of the Dropbox desktop application that allows you to select only the folders you want to be synced to your computer. Selective sync gives you the control to ensure you have only the files you need on any computer.
 
If you decide that you need the deselected folders back on your computer, go into your Selective Sync settings and check the box next to the folder's name. Dropbox will then sync the updated folder to your computer again. To learn more about Selective Sync check here.
 
Let me know if this helps or you need anything further!
 
 
 

[This thread is now closed. If you have a similar or new question, you can ask here]




Norah
Moderator @ Dropbox
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Level 4

Selectively un-sync without deleting files

I'm in the process of switching to sync my file with a different service, but still would like to keep Dropbox for some of its services. What I would like to do is unsync some of the folders between my desktop and Dropbox, while keeping the files on my computer so that I can sync that folder using a different service. The problem is when I un-sync the folder with Dropbox it also deletes the folder from the computer. How can I go about unlinking the folder without deleting it?

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Level 2

Selective Sync unexpected behaviour

Windows Version 48.4.58

I''ve created a folder in Windows Explorer, and then unselected in Selective Sync, the folder is gone on the client computer, fine.

But then, accesing on the web app, I've renamed it, and it reappeared in the client computer.

Shoudn't be the beahaviour that this unselected folder no longer syncs, regardless if it name changes?

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Super User II

Re: Selective Sync unexpected behaviour

No, that behavior is expected. Dropbox sees it as a new folder and syncs it. It doesn't know that it's the same folder, renamed.
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Super User II

Re: Selectively un-sync without deleting files

Unchecking a folder in Selective Sync will always delete the local copy of that folder because the intended purpose of that feature is to remove the local copy of a folder to save disk space while it remains in your Dropbox account online.

If you don't want a folder to sync to Dropbox, move it out of the Dropbox folder.
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Level 2

Can I store files on Dropbox online without having them take up space on my computer?

Aargh! I've read through some of the questions but I am still completelty confused. 

Basically I want to move my photos and or videos onto Dropbox so I don't have to keep a copy on my computer (where they take up a ton of space). 

Does anyone know how to do this? 

THANK YOU! 

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Super User II

Re: Storing without syncing

You need to move them to Dropbox first (where they will take up space).
Then once they've all uploaded (look for the green ticks) use Selective Sync to remove them locally: https://www.dropbox.com/help/syncing-uploads/selective-sync-overview

Note you must NOT do Selective Sync until they've uploaded or you WILL lose any that have no yet been uploaded

 


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Dropboxer
Dropboxer

Re: Storing without syncing

 



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


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Level 2

cant find selective sync on laptop

I can't find selective sync on my laptop . it says I am low on disc space but can't find out how to use this.
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