Dropbox Power User

So we would probably consider ourselves as power users of Dropbox. Sounds a bit fancier and a bit more macho than ‘we use it a lot’, but we do/are.
So as a wonderful service as it is, we’ve found some limitations to it, and it should be noted that these are natural limitations and not by design – more of that in a bit.



So we fling things across the office, and to 3rd parties and clients all the time and love the sheer versatility of delivering digital on essentially a shared server. Immensely useful. For 10 years. But since we’re always uploading something, somewhere to someone, we’re considered power users. The forever longtime timelapses devour data, and we use Dropbox for some solutions. We had a summer a while back whereby we had 8,000 files uploaded daily to our Dropbox account. Every day. And the weekend.
So Dropbox folders tend to clap out at about 8,000 files per folder. Performance dips at around 7,000 and just flips out at 9,000. Each file has its metadata recorded about its size version and date uploaded from which device etc, and that’s the key info Dropbox needs to keep things balanced across devices. All this tiny metadata though adds up and while its has to check folder lists against its own master checklist that’s when it decide its all just a bit much for it, and stops functions smoothly. Things get confused, mistakes are made.
So that’s been fine and we’ve known about the issue for some time, and happily amended workflows.



But then on one of the office machines, things got sluggish. OSX Finder had fingers pointed at it, even as Dropbox devoured disk space, energy consumption and frustrating stutters. We had Dropbox as archived and backed-up for sure, and all knew it needed some pruning. Think we got a prompt, about the sheer volume of files nested away. We were well over 500,000 closer to 600,000 files to be honest, and a little apologetic prompt told us – we were gonna suffer performance issues.
So we took the hatchet out and liberated some space. One or two purges later and all is tickety-boo. Dropbox is back purring away, all the uploads silently ratcheting up, OSX performance is as it should be. The guesstimates of the file-size of the master metadata file for +500k files including their origins has been bandied about the office. We’re not gonna know for sure but it always nice to test the boundaries of what a digital products is capable of.

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