It happens when you least expect it: you enjoy the free space on your computer and easy sync with Dropbox only to notice a popup warning that you have no available space in your cloud storage. All the free space in your cloud file repository is suddenly gone and you have no idea where.

Person Using Macbook Pro on Brown Wooden Desk

You decide to go on a mission to eliminate some files and free up space since the free Dropbox plan offers only 2 GB of storage and it won’t possibly hold all the photos and videos from your Mac. Keeping your folders clutter-free is especially important if your Dropbox account is syncing with your hard drive: it will not be working efficiently and will end up draining your system resources.

In most cases, the free space in Dropbox gets eaten by duplicate files — that is, identical files that get created when you sync photos or documents to your devices. Sometimes you can upload a duplicate file accidentally, forgetting that you already have a copy of that file in Dropbox. The cloud storage provider offers another explanation: duplicates can be created if the location of the original piece of data is different from the previous version, or this happens when there’s even a slight variation between names. This is often the case when you work with images and create several versions of intermediate results.

Thankfully, there’s an effortless way to regain a good portion of free space on Dropbox. Keep in mind that Dropbox will not allow sorting files by size or alert you when you create a duplicate copy — the company wants you to move to the paid plan as quickly as possible so it’s not in their interest to make your job of finding duplicates any easier.

One of the easiest ways to clear up Dropbox space is to check how exactly the data is distributed. To do this, go to Settings > Account. Here you can see a bar, very similar to the one in Mac, where you can see how much space you can free up. Now you can decide which shared files can be unlinked or which can be removed.

Image result for clear up Dropbox space

If you notice that several shared folders are becoming too large, here’s how you can stop linking to them. In the web version of Dropbox apply Sharing option to your data. You can sort folders by the time last modified — this is a good way to see which folders have been accessed recently and which ones have been collecting dust for months if not years. This will help you easily make a decision about what to purge from your storage. Once decided, click on “Share”, then on Owner or Can Edit. If there’s more than one person having access to the folder, leave settings as they are, but choose the option Remove My Access next to your username. When Dropbox suggests saving a copy of the folder, don’t agree and keep the square unticked. Congratulations: the folder disappears from your storage! Repeat these steps with all folders that you no longer require.

Removing duplicate data takes longer because you will have to do it manually, otherwise, you will have to install third-party software that will arrange your data by size and detect possible duplicates. If you opt for the easier way, remember to buffer suggested duplicates into a folder and quickly browse through them, to reduce the chance of deleting something valuable.

Deleting doubled-up items by hand is more time-consuming but this ensures that your Dropbox holds only the data that you need. You can make the process more straightforward if you first sort the items by the date of creation and start weeding out the oldest ones. This way you will keep only the most recent data in your storage. People who once had done it know that it’s a long and tedious task.

For more excellent tips on how to remove duplicates from Dropbox head on to this tutorial. Remember that having lots of doubled-up data on your storage can cause quite a lot of problems and expenses.

Tom Parillo

Tom Parillo

I am interested in all things technology, especially automation, robotics and tech that helps change how society will live in the future.