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Why Does Dropbox Duplicate Files and How to Stop That from Happening

Dropbox is an extremely popular cloud storage and collaboration tool. With its advanced sharing and backup features and convenient to use apps for PC, Mac, iOS and Android, Dropbox is the choice of individuals and teams alike. However, there is one problem - the free plan offers only 2GB of storage space. That’s why you have to be extra vigilant as to what ends up in your Dropbox and avoid uploading junk like photos you don’t really need or duplicate content. The problem is that sometimes Dropbox duplicates files with you being none the wiser.

Why Does Dropbox Duplicate Files and How to Stop That from Happening

Why Does Dropbox Upload Duplicates to My Storage?

According to, the app will upload any files you put in your Dropbox folder, even if the new file is exactly the same as an existing file. Basically, the Dropbox folder on your computer behaves just like any other standard folder when it comes to file uploads. If there is a file with exactly the same file name and parameters, you’ll get a standard popup telling you that the file with this name already exists, asking if you want to replace the old file, cancel the upload, or rename the new file. This means that if you upload a duplicate file to a different subfolder or change its name, Dropbox won’t display any warnings.

Other reasons for Dropbox duplicating files are:

  • Resized photos and videos - you may have visually identical photos and videos in your Cloud storage account but the file size will be different. So, technically, these files aren’t duplicates.
  • Files in different formats - you may have a .jpg and a .png version of the same image. It will look exactly the same to you, but Dropbox (and your computer) will always view them as two different files because the file formats are different. The only quick way to detect and remove files like that is to use a visual similarity finder.
  • Files imported via iOS 11 and higher - if you’ve imported photos and videos from an Apple device running iOS 11 or higher, you may sometimes get what seems like duplicate uploads. This issue is related to Apple’s new HEIC/HEIF codec and is described in this Dropbox support article.

As you can see, the problems with unintended file copies uploaded to your Dropbox cloud storage stem from the way the Dropbox app behaves on your PC or Mac: it creates a folder that works just like any other folder on your computer. Yes, it has the capability to upload, download and sync content (and even maintain a version history), but it is just a folder that doesn’t have any smart file comparison algorithms.

What Can I Do to Avoid Duplicate Dropbox Uploads?

The best way to fix any problem is to prevent it from happening in the first place. When you’re uploading new files to Dropbox, make sure you do a quick folder-wide search using the file name to see if it already exists in the main folder and its subfolders. If nothing comes up, you can safely upload the file.

If you’re using Dropbox to store your photos, use the larger thumbnail view because then you’ll be able to preview the photos on the go and avoid uploading similar images.

To change the view on Windows, follow these steps:

  • Open “File Explorer” and click on the “View” tab
  • Click on “Options” to open “Folder Options” and go to the “View” tab
  • Remove the check mark for the “Always show icons, never thumbnails” option
  • Click “Apply”, then click “OK”

On a Mac, open the folder you want to update, go to the Finder top bar menu, click on View and select either “as Icons” or “as Gallery”.

It’s also helpful to sort files by name because you’ll instantly see files sharing the same name next to each other. That way you’ll be able to decide whether you want to keep the photo in .jpg, .png, or any other format you’ve used.

We hope that now you understand why there may be unintentional file copies in your Dropbox and how to prevent that from happening so that you get the most out of the free storage quota offered by the service.

Is your Dropbox Account Still Littered with Duplicate Files?

Resolving the issue of duplicates or even triplicate files in in Dropbox can be frustrating and time consuming. In addition to following the suggestions above, you can also use a Dropbox duplicate finder and remover to tackle all of that unwanted clutter.

Easy Duplicate Finder’s “Dropbox duplicate finder” works right in the Cloud and is able to find and remove unwanted files in minutes.

Get the easiest duplicate file remover for Dropbox today. Download Easy Duplicate Finder for Mac and PC.