Is Dropbox Filling Your Hard Drive – Take Control

Image Credit - DepositPhotos
Image Credit – DepositPhotos

Dropbox kicks butt in my humble opinion. It is by far the easiest way to keep files in sync between multiple computers, your tablet, and your phone. For the meeting planner or event professional, this can be a godsend when you need to access stuff like site inspection photos, graphic files, attendee lists, or floor plan layouts when you don’t have your laptop handy. There is a certain sense of calm that flows over you knowing that you can access your stuff anywhere, any time, any how. Heck, you can even share the calm and get Dropbox for business and your entire meeting team can share folders.

What sets Dropbox apart is that it is stupid simple to use. So simple that it works just like your “My Documents” folder.. that is if your “My Documents” folder was a steroid pumping muscle freak that could clone himself every 30 seconds.

Now even though Dropbox is all amazingly awesome, this does not mean it doesn’t have a couple faults. The faults are minor and  complaining about them is just nitpicking to nitpick but there is one little fault that stands apart from the rest. Wanna know what that fault is?

Dropbox syncs between your computers and devices…

WAIT. What. Am I a dumbass. Well, maybe, and I did just say that Dropbox is amazing because it is the easiest way to sync between devices so I must be going bat-shit crazy. Or maybe I’m not.

You see, Dropbox syncs between devices, we get that. On your phone or tablet, no biggie. It only syncs the file name, you only download the file when you click on it. Computers are another story. The sync actually moves the whole file and if you have one computer that has a MASSIVE amount of storage and another that has an itty bitty amount of storage you can conceivably max out the storage of one of your computers by just doing normal share type stuff.

What a pain in the ass. That little travel computer you got to go on those glamorous meeting planning adventures to Des Moines is now so filled to the brim that you can’t even save a word document never mind that really important 5 gig speaker video that your boss needs pronto pronto.

Relax oh-caffeinated-wine-drinking-friend. We can fix that.

What you want to do is selectively sync certain folders. Basically, this will keep your files safe in the cloud but will not push them down to the computer with the small amount of storage thus saving the day because your boss can now get that 5 gig video that he will never actually watch but made you jump through flaming hoops of doom to get.

To start, we should probably pick on one of the worst storage offenders, Camera Upload. You enabled Camera Upload when you installed Dropbox on your phone or tablet and now it is quietly sucking up storage like a Dyson Vacuum on crack… You remember don’t you? A little pop up said “pssst, hey buddy, you want to upload some pictures” and you got all twirly eyed and said “sure man, this won’t hurt me will it?” aaaaand so began your march to a full hard drive.

Camera Upload is a work of simple genius. You snap a photo on your phone and it is uploaded to Dropbox and then pushed back down to your computers. Cool? You bet your meeting ass it is cool but maybe after a little introspection, backup copies of what you ate at Le Fancy Bistro and that little after party are not needed on every machine you own or work on.

Enabling Selective Sync

These steps are for the machine that is lacking storage.


  • Down in the system tray (bottom right), click on the Dropbox icon
  • Click the gear icon
  • Click preferences
  • Click the account tab
  • Click Selective Sync
  • Deselect camera uploads


  • In the menu bar, click on the Dropbox icon
  • Click the gear icon
  • Click on Preferences
  • Click the Account tab
  • Click Change Settings
  • Deselect Camera Uploads

Now Camera Upload works perfect. You snap, it uploads to the cloud thus saving a copy and only pushes the photos down to the machine with the large amount of storage. A good start but are there other folders that you can selectively sync? For me, I am also pretty selective about music, videos, and graphic design files. All of these folders can be handled in the same fashion…

Now, go forth you crazy Ansel Adams, Annie Liebovitz wannabe. Snap all the pics you want of your neighbors little dog, that funny looking tree, that dinner at The Freaky Taco. Snap, snap, snap…

Not using Dropbox? Go get yourself some cloud storage, the first 2 gigs are free.

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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