If I move files from one folder in my Dropbox folder structure to another, what happens on the other synced devices? Do they:

  1. Move the files on the synced device from the source folder to destination without and upload / download of files
  2. Remove the file from the source folder on the synced device and re-download the file into the destination folder

I have some large shared files that I want to move, but am wary of triggering a large upload & download to my other PCs using dropbox, which will cause problems with my ISP bandwidth limit.


What's for certain is that Dropbox will not re-download files that already exist on your machine. So if the OS simply moves the file, but the actual file stays the same (probably based on a checksum), then Dropbox will simply move it in the index as well.

For other users of that shared folder, Dropbox will simply say "file has been added to your Dropbox" (or similar), but it won't download the file from the Dropbox servers. You could then, e.g. after a few minutes, safely delete the file from the original folder.

(This, according to the OP, definitely works on Windows. I will check Mac OS X later.)

  • sounds promising, thanks. Will give it a go on a test file presently
    – Kris C
    Dec 4 '12 at 14:04
  • I've moved the files on one Windows PC. The other windows PC then executed the move without having to redownload etc. Haven't tried on other OS's yet. This answer is the nearest to actual behaviour - please can you add in these details and I'll accept (not sure I can answer my own question)
    – Kris C
    Dec 4 '12 at 19:48
  • I rewrote the answer based on your findings. Feel free to edit it though if you have further comments. You could answer your own question if you like, it's up to you!
    – slhck
    Dec 4 '12 at 20:10

From experience: Moving / Renaming a file via Dropboxes own Web Interface will reliably just rename the file on the sync'ed machines. Moving a file one of the boxes can cause a full upload and download.


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