Smart Sync is a feature of the Dropbox desktop app that makes files online-only so you can save hard drive space on your computer. You can choose which files to make online-only or let automatic Smart Sync choose for you. Dropbox's Smart Sync allows you to see and preview all files in your Dropbox, including any shared with you by others. They all appear inside the Dropbox folder on your PC, but they don't actually download and take up space unless you open them. Thus, Smart Sync provides a seamless experience. Alright, so the scanning is done. Now let’s take a quick look. As I mentioned in the previous video, the larger the square, the bigger the file within the space you selected. So the space I selected is my Dropbox folder. So the bigger the square, the bigger the file is taking up space in my Dropbox folder. Break free from your hard drive Forget you ever worried about storage space. With Dropbox Smart Sync, you can see and access every file in your account and every folder that’s been shared with you, right from your desktop, without taking up your hard drive space. Dropbox will warn you that once you update your selective sync settings, the folder will be deleted from your computer, but they will still be available online and other devices. Note, make sure that when you use other devices with Dropbox installed, you update your selective sync settings because otherwise your Big Files folder will be downloaded.
If you set a file or folder to online-only, it is removed from your hard drive so that it’s only stored in your account on dropbox.com. You can still see the file or folder on your computer, but it’s just a placeholder. You need to be connected to the internet to open it. If you open the file, it becomes local and saves back to your computer’s hard drive. If you move, delete, or re-name it on your computer, even while offline, those changes will be mirrored on dropbox.com once your device is back online.
Smart Sync vs. selective sync
Selective sync also helps you save hard drive space by removing files from your hard drive so that they’re only saved on dropbox.com. However, you won’t be able to see those files or folders on your computer at all and there’s no automatic option for selective sync.
Automatic Smart Sync
You can turn on automatic Smart Sync so that files you don’t open from your computer for a few months become online-only automatically and new files you add to dropbox.com become online-only by default.
To turn on automatic Smart Sync:
- Click the Sync tab.
- Under Save hard drive space automatically,select On.
If you don’t open a file or folder from your computer for a few months, it’ll become online-only to save you hard drive space. If an application on your computer needs a file to be local to function properly, automatic Smart Sync will set it to local temporarily and return it to online-only later.
Make files added to the web default to online-only
You can make all files that you add to dropbox.com online-only by default in two ways:
- Turn on automatic Smart Sync. (Instructions above).
- Change this in your preferences. To do so:
How To Get More Dropbox Space Free
- Click the Sync tab.
- Click the dropdown next to Files added on web default and click Online-only.
- If automatic Smart Sync is on, you can’t choose this option because your files already default to online-only.
Why online-only files may take up a little space
Online-only files take up a small amount of space on your hard drive because the placeholder requires space to store the file name and the shortcut to dropbox.com, but it takes up much less space than the file itself would.
Note: On Mac, online-only files may appear to take up the full amount of space. To fix this, follow the instructions in the “Set online-only files to zero ‘logical’ size” section of this article.
How To Free Up Space On Dropbox
System requirements for Smart Sync
Mac: OS X Mavericks (10.9)
Dropbox Space Increase
Windows: 7 and up
Note: You can’t use Smart Sync on a mobile device, but you can set your Dropbox files to open on your mobile device while you’re offline.