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Troubleshooting storage space issues

When you work with really large files, you can use up a lot of space on your computer. Dropbox can help you with that—selective sync and Smart Sync can help store what you absolutely need.

Manage your storage the right way

Maybe you don’t have a ton of space on your computer or you’re working with really large media files—either way, Dropbox can help you free up some of that space when you run out.

With Dropbox Business, you have a few ways to manage what syncs to your Dropbox folder, including selective sync and Smart Sync. You can use either one or both.

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Selective sync

Selective sync is a feature that allows you to select only the folders you want to be synced to your computer. It gives you the control to ensure you have only the files you need on your computer. It's especially handy if you want to save space on netbooks and other computers with small hard drives.

Using selective sync means certain files won’t appear in the Dropbox folder on your computer. Not to worry, though: they’re still safely backed up to Dropbox and available on dropbox.com.

Know your sync icons

In the Dropbox folder on your computer, you and your team members will see one of the following icons on all of your files and folders. These status icons tell you what’s happening with your stuff when it comes to syncing.

Learn more about Dropbox syncing icons.

A green circle with a check mark icon means your content is fully synced to Dropbox.

Synced

A green circle with a check mark means the item is fully synced to Dropbox.

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In progress

An icon of a blue circle with arrows means the item is currently syncing.

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File or folder isn't syncing

An icon of a grey circle with a minus sign appears if you’re using selective sync. It indicates that an item is not being synced on your computer.

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Sync not happening

An icon of a red circle with an X indicates something went wrong and Dropbox can’t sync your item.

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Online-only

If you’re using Smart Sync, you may see an icon of a cloud in a grey circle. This icon indicates the item is appearing in your local Dropbox folder, but doesn’t use the full amount of space that the file would. You can see the content in File Explorer or Finder, but the file won’t be on your hard drive unless you need it or until you edit it offline.

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Local

If you’re using Smart Sync, you may see an icon of a green circle with a white check mark. This icon indicates your content is stored locally on your hard drive and uses storage space. You can edit these files right from your computer.

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Mixed state

If you’re using Smart Sync, you may see an icon of a white circle with a green outline and green check mark. This icon indicates a folder contains both online-only and local content.

Using selective sync

To enable selective sync, head to your Dropbox preferences from the Dropbox icon in the taskbar or menu bar.

How do I enable selective sync on my Mac?

To enable selective sync, select the Dropbox icon from the menu bar. Then click your avatar and choose Preferences. Click the Sync tab. From there, you’ll be able to enable selective sync. Dropbox Business users: If you have connected your personal and work Dropbox accounts, you'll also need to select the Dropbox account for which you want to change settings at the top of the tab. Learn more about selective sync on our help center.

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How do I enable selective sync on Windows?

To enable selective sync, select the Dropbox icon from the task bar. Then click your avatar and choose Preferences. Choose Sync, and from there, you can enable selective sync. Just click the corresponding button. Dropbox Business users: If you have connected your personal and work Dropbox accounts, you'll also need to select the Dropbox account for which you want to change settings at the top of the tab. Learn more about selective sync on our help center.

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Using Smart Sync

To use Smart Sync, you need to first install Dropbox on your computer.

How do I make content online-only on my Mac?

Once you’ve opened the Dropbox folder on your computer, find the file or folder you want to make online-only. Control-click on that file or folder, choose Smart Sync, and then select Online-only. Now that content will only be kept online, freeing up valuable space on your hard drive. Learn more about Smart Sync on our help center.

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How do I make content online-only on Windows?

Once you’ve opened the Dropbox folder on your computer, find the file or folder you want to make online-only. Right-click on that file or folder, choose Smart Sync, and then select Online-only. Now that content will only be kept online, freeing up valuable space on your hard drive.

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What will you do with all that space?

Selective sync and Smart Sync won’t remove content from your Dropbox accounts, just your computer–giving you more space to work with. Everything is still readily accessible on Dropbox, where it belongs.

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