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Free Dropbox Accounts Now Only Sync to Three Devices, Here's What To Do

Published · March 20, 2019
Justin Pot

Do you use a free Dropbox account? As of March 2019 you can only connect Dropbox with three devices.

Don't panic: the change, which Dropbox quietly announced earlier this month in a help document, only kicks in if you're trying to add a new device:

If you're a Basic user and you linked more than three devices prior to March 2019, all of your previously linked devices will remain linked, but you can’t link additional devices.

This means anyone with more than three devices connected doesn't have to worry right this instant. That will change, however, when it comes time to replace one of your current devices or if you add another device to your collection. At that point, you will have to make a decision.

Wait, What Counts As a Device?

The three device limit only refers to computers and mobile devices with the official Dropbox app installed. Opening Dropbox in a web browser does not count toward this total and neither does using a third party app that connects to Dropbox.

You can check how many devices are currently connected to your account and remove devices you're not using on Dropbox's security page for your account. Just scroll down to the bottom, to the Devices section, and you'll see a list of the devices you've connected to Dropbox.

You can remove this restriction entirely by upgrading. Paid plans start at $8.25 a month for 1TB of storage and a bunch of features, like offline folders on mobile and priority email support. If paying isn't an option for you, however, here are a couple of things you can try.

Use the Web App on Mobile

Dropbox's core functionality, for many users, is syncing. Add a file to your Dropbox folder on one computer and it will show up on your other computers. The mobile version of Dropbox doesn't really do this. Yes, there are some nice app-specific features, such as automatic photo uploads. For the most part, however, Dropbox's mobile app is an interface for browsing files and opening them in other applications.

Which is why I recommend anyone who hits the three device limit consider using the web version of Dropbox on mobile. Just head to Dropbox.com in your phone's browser and sign in. You can now browse all of your files and download them, without using up one of your three "Device" slots.

You can even add an icon to your homescreen; here's how that process works on Chrome for Android:

It's not a perfect replacement for the mobile app, but it works well enough for most use cases. Keep this in mind if you're struggling to stay below Dropbox's three device limit.

Make Another Dropbox Account and Share Folders With It

You probably don't need access to your entire Dropbox on every device. And Dropbox offers great sharing functionality.

You can use this a workaround of sorts. Simply create a second Dropbox account and share a few folders over to that new account. You now have three more devices worth of syncing to play with.

It's kinda a workaround, sure, but it works if you just need to sync a few folders over to a couple of extra devices.

Switch to or Supplement Dropbox with Another Service

Do none of these tips quite give you what you're looking for? My friend (and fellow Oregon-based Canadian tech journalist) Chris Hoffman outlined the other cloud storage options for How-to Geek. Here's a quick summary:

  • Google Drive offers 15GB of free storage with no device limit, though that 15GB is shared with your Gmail account.

  • Microsoft OneDrive: offers 5GB of free storage with no device limit.

  • Apple iCloud offers 5GB of free storage with no device limit.

Consider these options if the three device limit is a real dealbreaker for you.

And you don't have to fully replace Dropbox with one of these services! You could use Dropbox on some devices and a different cloud storage service on others, then connect them using Zapier.

For example, you could automatically upload new files in Dropbox to Google Drive, or vice-versa:

Copy new Google Drive files in a specific folder to Dropbox

Google Drive + Dropbox

Try It

Copy new Dropbox files to Google Drive

Dropbox + Google Drive

You can do the same thing to connect Dropbox and OneDrive:

Copy a new Dropbox file to OneDrive

Dropbox + OneDrive

Copy Your OneDrive Files to Dropbox

OneDrive + Dropbox

Curious about integrating Dropbox with other apps? Check out our list of Dropbox integrations to learn more.

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