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What's the best way to use Selective Sync?

Level 2

Hi everyone.  

I seem to be encountering a problem with the Selective Sync function. In all honesty I didnt even know it existed until today and I certainly didnt enable it. I have never had a problem with deleting files from my Dropbox before, then today I get the Selective Sync message about deleting files and folders from all accounts and devices.  

So, very confused, I do what it says and open up the Selective Sync section in the settings only to be greeted with the message that the unselected folders will be removed from my dropbox completely! Not what i need at all. Im not trying to delete a folder, Im trying to delete a standalone file! 

To start with, I was only looking to remove selected files that aren't in folders and to follow up I really dont want to start deleting things from my Dropbox by accident. I really dont understand where this came from, as I said, up till now I have happily deleted and added things whenever I feel like it, I did not turn on any file saving options. Im trying to free up space not double my storage load!  

Please if anyone can help me I would be eternally grateful. All I want is for the files I put in Dropbox to be in Dropbox and when I want to delete something for it to delete. Many thanks everyone. 

14 Replies

Re: Selective Sync problems

Super User

Hey @Niksta, Selective Sync feature helps you sync only a part of your Dropbox data to your local drive. Say, you have a large amount of data in Dropbox. You may not have a large hard drive to download/sync all the data to your computer. It is possible that you do not need all the Dropbox data to be available in your hard drive all the time. Here, the Selective sync feature comes very handy. Say, you have Folder1 and Folder2; you want only the contents of Folder1 regularly, while the contents of Folder2 you need occasionally, so you decide to sync only Folder1 with your computer and leave Folder2 on the cloud (everyting will remain saved in Dropbox servers, and available anytime with Dropbox web via a browser). You can just uncheck Folder2 in the selective sync settings, and it will be deleted from your computer hard drive freeing up space in your computer. You can access the files in Folder2 by login into Dropbox web. If you wish, you may re-enable sync for that Folder2 in future. If you have sufficiently large hard drive, you may not need this feature. 

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Re: Selective Sync problems

Level 2

Hi there! 

 

Thanks so much for your reply! Im slowly working it out but that info really helped. I have given up trying to delete things via the PC and not just remove them via mobile device and I dont get the issue. Not a perfect work around but it will do slightly smiling face Thanks again!

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Re: Selective Sync problems

Level 5

when you delete a file anywhere, IF it's in the dropbox special directory on whichever device, it will definitely bin it everywhere EVENTUALLY, but it's not instant as every machine is connecting differently. 

 

If you are not sure about which files are in d-box, go to the online version on your device, and you will see all files d-box is tracking. If you delete online there, it will eventually propagate everywhere. It's not possible for there to be local differences unless the synching is turned off.

 

what is true is that 'selective synch' CHANGES which files are VISIBLE on your local device, but not their existence.

 

by the way undelete function in d-box is really good!!

 

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Re: Selective Sync problems

Level 5

see pic. (that I can't upload because their software is **bleep****bleep**.)

 

it's vital I always tell my staff,!! not to rush, and READ the messages on the telly.  

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Re: Selective Sync problems

EH2
Level 4

Hi,

I was reading through FAQ's about Selective Sync and I noticed that you wrote, "...what is true is that 'selective synch' CHANGES which files are VISIBLE on your local device, but not their existence...."

That is significant to me as I have just signed up for Dropbox Plus which gives me 1TB of Cloud Storage.  

I want to copy > 250GB's but < 1TB worth of files from my home NAS to the 1TB DropBox Cloud so I can then reset the NAS back to factory settings.  To do that I created a folder named NAS_COPY in my local DropBox folder which subsequently was also created in my DropBox cloud account. Then using Selective Sync I unchecked that folder so that it would not be synced locally.  That way I would not run out of space on my 250GB laptop HD.

I began to copy and paste files/folders from the NAS drive to the NAS_COPY folder in my local Dropbox folder so that they would then be subsequently uploaded to my 1 TB DropBox cloud.  All was well and good.

However, once I got past the 250GB laptop HD threshold the DropBox process told me that it could not continue with the copy and paste as I was about to run out of space locally on my 250 GB laptop HD.

So I realized that Seletive Sync is NOT actually removing the locall copy and pasted files.  It is just marking them as 'NOT VISIBLE'  and that they are indeed still taking up local HD space.  Is that correct? 

If so there is big lack of 'truth in advertising' on the part of DropBox as far as Selecive Sync.  It is disingenuous that DropBox now has 'Smart Sync' which appears to actually free up local HD space...but for an additional amount of money. I really think that DropBox is a stellar product.  But in this case I was disappointed.  This technical limitation should initially have been made more apparent.

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Re: Selective Sync problems

Level 4

I am experiencing similar problem.

I recently found all of my Dropbox cloud storage is sync'd to this computer which has nearly filled available space. I then deselect folders in Selective Sync, but the folders and content have remained.

Dropbox does say that if the drive has been filled then I will need to free up some space for this operation, but does not specify how much is needed. I have 4Gb of free space which I hoped was enough.

The thing is Selective Sync used to work on this computer, and I previously selected only the folders I needed. 

I would need to rethink use of dropbox if it has changed its policy and I cannot reduce the number of folders via selective sync.

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Re: Selective Sync problems

Super User II

@EH2:

You don't have it quite right. Selective Sync is used to remove the local copy of a folder from your drive, while leaving it in your account online. The folder is REMOVED from your drive, meaning it's no longer accessible on your computer. You can't uncheck a folder in Selective Sync (to remove it) then continue to add files to it through Explorer/Finder. In order to access the folder going forward, you have to use the Dropbox website, and you do not want to transfer that much data through a browser session.

What you're trying to accomplish, having a folder within Dropbox that, when files are added, are transferred directly to your account online only, is not possible. With Selective Sync and Smart Sync you initially need enough available space on your drive for the files to sync. However, there is a way to accomplish what you want (data transferred to the cloud) in smaller batches.

First, create two folders in your Dropbox. We'll call them UPLOAD and NAS_COPY for this discussion. Using Selective Sync, uncheck the NAS_COPY folder. It will immediately be removed from your Dropbox. Next, copy a portion of your NAS data, whatever will fit on your drive, into the UPLOAD folder. Wait for Dropbox to sync it all then, using the Dropbox website, move that data from the UPLOAD folder to the NAS_COPY folder. As the move takes place, the local copy of that data will be removed. Repeat this as often as necessary until you have all of your data uploaded and moved into the NAS_COPY folder.

The one catch here is that when the files are removed from your local drive, they'll likely go into the hidden .dropbox.cache folder in the root of your Dropbox. This is a precaution that aides in quick recovery in case something was delteed by mistake. Once you're certain that the current batch of files is fully uploaded and moved to NAS_COPY, you may need to manually clear the cache before you can transfer the next batch.

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Re: Selective Sync problems

Super User II

@David G.26 wrote:

I would need to rethink use of dropbox if it has changed its policy and I cannot reduce the number of folders via selective sync.


Dropbox has not changed their policy, but you do need available disk space to perform such tasks. The exact amount is based on the task you're trying to accomplish and the size of the files being worked with, and since files get moved, copied, broken apart, etc. during syncing and other actions, you likely need more available space than you would think for some tasks.

Try splitting each task into smaller batches. Instead of unchecking a lot of folders at once, do one at a time to see if it works. If it does, select a few others. Repeat as necessary.

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Re: Selective Sync problems

Level 4

@EH2 

Firstly thank you very much for taking time to reply and your comprehensive explanation.

I can only think I did not convey my meaning well and perhaps I do not understand your explanation. Apologies. Your "Selective Sync is used to remove the local copy of a folder from your drive, while leaving it in your account online."  is what I am trying to do.  (For sake of space, I determined I don't need a local copy.) It has not worked because my files/folders continue to reside on my (nearly full) computer.

What am I doing wrong?

Since the local copies are already synced with the online account, I wondered about smply deleting the local copies, but guessing this will delete the same from main cloud copy ("account online")?

Any help appreciated.

PS understand yr method for uploading in para 3. Note yr info on "manually clear the cache". Was not aware of this. Thank you.

 

 

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What's the best way to use Selective Sync?
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