Can I delete files from my laptop’s Dropbox folder without deleting the files from my account?

February 17, 2014
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I’m wondering if I can delete the files from my designated Dropbox folder on my laptop without them being deleted from my Dropbox account? For me, the whole purpose of purchasing a Dropbox account was so I could upload my pictures to the cloud and delete them from my laptop, as I don’t want to bog it down with excess memory. Thank you!

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  1. Curtis James McConnell
    February 20, 2014 at 8:42 pm

    Side note about expensive cloud storage, box.com gives you ten free gigs, plus bells and whistles for file management.

  2. Saad Q
    February 18, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    I you upload your Dropbox files on to a memory stick then you could restore your laptop then upload it to laptop to put your things in your device again.

  3. Oron J
    February 18, 2014 at 10:44 am

    While Sam's method should work, Jan's right. The whole point of Dropbox is to synchronise the data on your device(s) and on the cloud. It is not designed to be an upload service. If you merely want to "offload" data from your hard drive to the net, you should get a different service, as Dropbox is relatively expensive and not designed for this job.

    That said, something about the way you frame the question suggests to me that there is a different issue at play here. Hard disc space if very cheap nowadays. Certainly much cheaper than cloud storage. The point of (expensive) cloud storage is to offer a safe backup (that is, a copy) of your data. If your hard drive is too small for your photos (unusual in itself), the best thing to do would be to buy an external hard drive and store the photos there. You could then back that up to the cloud if you so wished. In any event, the computer's memory is a separate electronic component which is quite independent of the hard drive and will not get "bogged down" by the drive's contents.

    • Bruce E
      February 18, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      A computer can get bogged down because of a large number of folders and files on a hard drive. Microsoft just loves to cache file data and is reluctant to release it. This is one of the reasons that CPU power is not as important on file servers than the amount of RAM. Users who have a lot of files like photos that are in a small number of folders that are accessed frequently will see heavy RAM usage and if Microsoft's caching algorithm decides to drop them from the cache, it will see heavy IO usage when it goes to reload any of those folders, thus bogging down the entire system. So if this isn't merely a hard drive space issue, but an overall system performance issue, OP may see better performance by splitting folders with a large number of photos into multiple folders with fewer photos in each. It should reduce both RAM usage and IO operations.

  4. Sam K
    February 18, 2014 at 7:56 am

    Yes, you can do so by using the Selective Sync feature of Dropbox. Say out of 100 items, you only want to keep 5 items on your laptop, while leave the rest deleted from laptop - yet keeping them in Dropbox.

    Create a folder say - keep - put 5 items here
    Create a folder say - delete - put 95 items here

    Do a selective Sync for keep, so that Dropbox will only sync those 5 items you want to keep on the laptop.

    For further details, please refer below
    https://www.dropbox.com/help/175/en

  5. Jan F
    February 17, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    Anything you remove from the Dropbox folder locally will be removed from the Dropbox cloud storage too.
    Only by disabling the Dropbox app you can remove things without having an impact on the cloud storage. But then again, it won't upload stuff you put in either.

    Dropbox is primarily considered a cloud synchronization and backup service. So changes you make locally are reflected to the cloud storage and vise versa.

    If you just want to use it for hosting your pictures without having them on your hard drive I suggest to remove the application from your system and upload them using the Dropbox website.

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