How to remove files from Dropbox without deleting them

Tashreef Shareef
by Tashreef Shareef
Windows & Software Expert
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  • Dropbox not only allows you to store your files on the cloud, but certain degrees of file management is also possible.
  • This guide will show you how to remove files from Dropbox without deleting them.
  • Our dedicated Dropbox Guides hub is where you can find even more articles like the one below.
  • For more information that can be useful, check out our Storage page.
How can I remove files from Dropbox without deleting them

Dropbox is a popular file-sharing and collaborative platform available on multiple platforms, making it an ideal file sharing solution. However, sometimes the user may want to delete some files from their Dropbox account to free up space without deleting the files on their computer.

Dropbox, by default syncs all the files and folders in the Dropbox folder on your PC. If the user deletes files from their Dropbox online, Dropbox will resync the files and will remove any files that are deleted from dropbox.com.

In this article, we explore how to remove files from Dropbox without deleting them from your computer hard drive.


Remove files from Dropbox without deleting them

1. Delete from Dropbox.com but not local Dropbox folder

Delete from Dropbox.com but not local Dropbox folder

If you want to delete a folder from the Dropbox account online but want the file to remain on your local Dropbox folder, Dropbox does not have an option to make it happen.

However, what you can do is move the file or folder from the local Dropbox folder to outside the Dropbox folder and keep it as a backup. Now open the Dropbox account and delete the files you don’t want to free up some space.

Make sure to move the folder/file first from the local Dropbox folder and then delete the files from the account. If not, Dropbox will sync and remove the file from your local folder.


Accidentally delete some files? Here’s how to recover deleted Dropbox files


2. Delete files from your hard drive but keep them in Dropbox account

Delete files from your hard drive but keep in Dropbox account

  1. Right-click on the Dropbox icon in the taskbar.
  2. Click on your profile picture or initials.
  3. Select Preference from the options menu.
  4. Open the Sync option.
  5. Select the Selective Sync option.
  6. On the left-hand side, uncheck the boxes of any folder that you don’t need on your computer’s hard drive.
  7. Once you have selected all the folders, click on Update.

Now you can delete all the files that you don’t want on your hard drive. While these files will still be available in your account on Dropbox.com, Dropbox will not sync the folder/files with your local folder.

Selective Sync allows you to free up space on your hard drive by deleting some files from the Dropbox folder without removing the files from the Dropbox account.


3. Use Smart Sync

Note: Smart Sync is only available for Plus, Profession, and Dropbox Business users.

Turn on Smart Sync  

Use Smart Sync

  1. Sign in to the dropbox.com account.
  2. Click on your profile and select Settings.
  3. Open the General tab.
  4. Scroll down to Dropbox system extension, make sure it is set to On.
  5. Click the Dropbox icon in your system tray.
  6. Select your Profile.
  7. Go to Preferences > General.
  8. Click Enable to activate Smart Sync.

Save hard drive space automatically.

Use Smart Sync

  1. Click the Dropbox icon in your system tray and click on your profile picture.
  2. Go to Preferences > Sync.
  3. Choose your work Dropbox account.
  4. Toggle the On/Off settings under Save hard drive space automatically.

To enable the Save hard drive space automatically option will allow Dropbox to remove the file from your computer hard drive while saving a copy of the same in the Dropbox account online.

Dropbox will only delete the files that are not used in a few months by the user.

To remove files from dropbox without deleting them from your hard drive, you need to create a copy of the same and move it out of the local Dropbox account.

However, if you want to clear your local hard drive space by deleting Dropbox files without deleting the files from the Dropbox.com account, you can use the Selective or Smart Sync feature.


FAQs: Learn more about Dropboxfile management

  • How do I free up space on my Dropbox?

If you have exhausted your Dropbox storage space, try deleting the unused old files from the account. You can also download the files/folders to your local driver before deleting them for future use.

  • How do I remove local files from Dropbox?

If you want to delete the files in your Dropbox folder from your hard driver, simply drag the folder to the Trash. This will delete your local Dropbox folder/files. If you want to recover them, check out this guide on how to recover deleted Dropbox files.

  • How many files can I store on Dropbox?

Depending on your subscription plan, the available storage space varies. For example, the free version gives you 2GB of free storage space. while Plus gives you 2TB and Professional 3 TB. You can also consider simply getting a bigger external HDD.