How to Use Dropbox Smart Sync? [2 Practical Ways]

Haven’t heard about the Smart Sync feature in Dropbox? Yes, you landed on the right track to know How to use Dropbox Smart Sync.

When we use a cloud storage service like Dropbox, we may be looking for an easy way to create automatic backup copies of our most important data, storing a copy of our files in a location other than our physical computer.

However, there is another aspect of Dropbox that you may not be aware of that can assist you in maintaining storage space on your computer’s hard drive.

If our hard drive is nearly full, we can use the Dropbox Smart Sync feature to move files off the hard drive and into the cloud.

I’ll help you learn everything you need to know to take advantage of Smart Sync.

  • What is Dropbox Smart Sync
  • Features of Dropbox Smart Sync
  • Dropbox selective sync vs Smart Sync
  • How to use Dropbox Smart Sync
  • What to Do If Smart Sync Doesn’t Work
  • Are There Any Drawbacks to Dropbox Smart Sync

What is Smart Sync

Dropbox’s Smart Sync feature allows us to free up space by marking our files and folders as “online only.” This means they’ll only be available online until we decide to save them to our hard drive. The copy of the hard drives goes to the cloud storage.

It is not similar to selective sync, we can see these files or folders in our Dropbox folder. When we open the file, Dropbox Smart Sync will immediately download it to our hard drive, making the file local again.

Dropbox Smart Sync works like an x-ray machine. Instead of physically inspecting someone’s body, the machine provides an image of it. It does something to files as well. It scans them and gives the end user to see them without downloading them to their hard drive.

Features of Dropbox Smart Sync

Smart Sync is a useful feature for several reasons. Let’s see them one by one.

Enhancing Performance: Once the hard drive gets full to nearly 90% we may face some performance issues. By using the Dropbox Smart Sync feature it can free space to regain the speed and reliability which had already.

Transferring old files: When we have not opened the file for a long time, this means we don’t need to access it frequently. So by using Dropbox SmartSync we can move it to the cloud without saving it into the hard drive.

Keep track of shared files: When we try file request options in Dropbox, we will receive a lot of files in our store which occupies much space. At that time we can go for the Dropbox Smart Sync feature to save in the cloud and access only when we are online.

Improved Organization: Smart Sync will clean up the clutter on our hard drive, making it easier to stay organized. Because of this, we can find the files easier and faster.

Quick access: The best thing is when we need to access files that are available only online, we can gain access to it quickly if we have a proper internet connection. If we try to store that particular file on our local disk, it will take more time to track down the portable drive.

Dropbox Selective Sync vs Smart Sync

Despite having similar names and performing similar functions, Smart Sync and Selective Sync are distinct Dropbox offerings. We can use either one, but we should consider which one will best meet our needs.

Smart Sync allows users to access content from their desktop without taking up hard drive space. Selective Sync allows users to choose which files are synced. In this way, we can avoid files and folders from taking up space in the hard drive.

When Should Smart Sync be Used?

Dropbox is useful and works perfectly when we have a lot of people sharing files with us and also when we have more files and folders in Dropbox as well. The ease of seeing and accessing these files without having to store them on our hard drive is enormous.

Another reason for using smart sync is if we have limited hard drive space. One of the primary reasons people use Dropbox is to store files without taking up valuable hard drive space.

Smart Sync goes a step further by allowing them to access files from their desktop without storing them there.

How to use Dropbox Smart Sync

Dropbox’s new Smart Sync feature allows us to manage all of the files in our Dropbox account from our desktop without syncing them to our PC and taking up space.

All Dropbox Plus, Professional, Advanced, and Business plan users can use the Smart Sync option. While Dropbox basic users can use only selective sync features.

Using Smart Sync

With Smart Sync features, we are in control of which folders to sync and which should stay online only.

  • Open the Dropbox folder on the computer both (Mac and windows).
  • Right-click the folders or files inside the Dropbox click Smart Sync and select either Local or online only.

Local – It downloads all the files to the PC so that it takes up hard drive space.

Online only – It will show in Dropbox but won’t download to our PC until we open it. We can still rename, move and preview these files.

The green color tick for the files and folders that synced locally. This means that is available offline on the PC. An image like the cloud in the below picture is everything is online only.

Double-click the file and it will open and download without any interruption unless and until it is large data.

Keeping online or local fully depends upon the end user. Setting files online only by default and if we want to work without an internet connection under some circumstances, we should sync the files before itself.

smart sync in desktop

Choosing Online-Only or Local as the Default

We can choose the online-only or local by default by using the Preferences setup. Let’s check the process.

  • Go to the Dropbox icon in the system tray which is in the bottom right.
  • Click the Profile picture or avatar and click the Preferences.
use smart sync dropbox
  • Select the Sync option and choose between local or online-only.
smart sync in Dropbox

If you are not sure about which setting to choose, just select or enable Let my admin manage this setting which is under the sync option.

What to do if Smart Sync Doesn’t Work?

If you find Smart Sync not working then check for the internet connection and if that works well check windows defender and Anti-virus and make sure your Dropbox is working well.

If that is also not solving, the reboot technique might do the best. Still facing difficulties then contact customer support in Dropbox by email, or via live chat.

Are There Any Drawbacks to Dropbox Smart Sync?

There are a few cons of Smart Sync but still, they don’t affect us depending on how we are using the cloud storage app.

Internet Connection: If we don’t have an internet connection, we could not able to pull the files online from our cloud account. This thing makes us pause about Smart Sync rather than using the local hard disk.

The corrupted Dropbox.exe file: If this file damages our computer, we will lose access to our online-only files with the Smart Sync.

Choosing the appropriate files: It will take a bit of time to check which file we would like to move online only status with Dropbox Smart Sync. To save time, we want to allow Smart Sync automatically choose the choices about which files to make online only. Since this might cause issues too the automatic feature selects files that we would prefer to keep locally stored.

Compatibility issues with software: In some software, we may find files we have to Dropbox sync are downloaded back to the hard drive without our knowledge. Certain software may expect to find certain files on the hard drive and will force a download if the file is only available online.

End Message

Here we come to the conclusion, that we have seen how to use Dropbox Smart Sync. Implement the simple above method to use Dropbox Smart Sync.

We have touched on features and what to check if doesn’t work as well. Make sure you follow the above steps to proceed in a smooth way.

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