The Business Support Factory

What to do when Dropbox isn’t syncing your files

by | Sep 19, 2018 | Tools & Apps

Are you having Dropbox syncing issues? Important files have been shared with you, yet you can’t see them at your end?

Recently, I had this exact issue and it was driving me a little bit crazy. You see, I needed some specific files that a client had shared with me, so I could work on an urgent document which needed to be finalised on this specific day. Yet I was unable to locate these files on my computer. The client confirmed they had shared these with me, but still a no-show at my end. How frustrating, right!?

After investigating this issue, I found out that in some instances Dropbox can have syncing issues due to some characters that it doesn’t like – for both Windows and Mac.

In a nutshell – the files were in my Dropbox folders when checking in via the web, but on my computer, these were not there. This confirmed it is a sync issue between Dropbox web application to my computer.

But how can you find out which files are affected? Here is how I did it:

  1. Go to the web application of your Dropbox account
  2. Log in
  3. Open a new internet tab
  4. Use the following ‘invalid files check’ link:
  5. This will provide you with a list of all files with a character that Dropbox doesn’t like when syncing with your computer.
  6. In the web application of Dropbox, go to the file location and see if any of the below characters are in the file name.
  7. If yes, go ahead and delete the relevant characters from this file name and save.
  8. Dropbox should now update and sync this file or the files in question on your computer

As a guide, for Windows computers, the most common characters that you will find are:

< (less than)

> (greater than)

: (colon)

” (double quote)

| (vertical bar or pipe)

? (question mark)

* (asterisk)

. (period) or a space at the end of a file or folder name

It is hence in your best interest to not use these ones when naming any documents or folders.

You can find more details on this topic by hopping over to Dropbox’s own article on this known syncing problem (the article also covers Mac and Linux)

Have you had this experience before? How did you discover this and also fixed it? Drop a comment, I would love to hear about it.