In the last few days I have noticed an oddity with the Dropbox folder in the Home directory.

I cannot be certain whether it is Ubuntu or Dropbox influenced hence the question here in case someone else has experienced it or can offer advice.

a file .dropbox (openable with geddit) which contains some lines of text:-


and a folder .dropbox.cache which itself contains another folder prefetch_cache which doesn't contain anything appears in the Dropbox folder which is used to sync with dropbox.

When closing down my PC last night (as the previous night) these files/folders were removed by me from the >Home>Dropbox folder. This morning, on switching on the PC, I checked the >Home>Dropbox folder to see that the files had returned. They are date/time stamped the time I switched my Ubuntu machine on.

I then checked my Dropbox account on the web by launching the dropbox website from the dropbox icon at the top of the screen and bizarrely these files/folders are not shown to be present - effectively invisible to dropbox itself.

Yesterday, following researchon this site, I opened a terminal and typed:

`rm -R ~/Dropbox/.dropbox.cache/*`

This does not seem to have have had a desirable effect as evidenced by the same problem appearing this morning.

This is not affecting my installation in any other way, just a curious annoyance deserving of some attention to get to the bottom of it.

All suggestions gratefully received.

  • A tip for novices : don't delete files and directories if you don't know their purpose, from where they come and how they are used, or it may break your system !!
    – Benoit
    Jul 31 '14 at 8:07
  • 2
    Point taken Benoit. I'll steer clear until I can justify upgrading my username ;)
    – 24601
    Jul 31 '14 at 8:18

The .dropbox file is used by Dropbox itself to track shared folders. So you should absolutely not delete it! It is not uploaded to your Dropbox, as Dropbox explicitly ignores it. This is outlined in their FAQ here:

Ignored files

Some small system files aren't synced over Dropbox. These include:


The folder you are talking about is mentioned here:

How do I clear my cache?

Dropbox keeps a cache of files hidden in your Dropbox for efficiency and for emergency purposes. If you've deleted a lot of files from your Dropbox but the file size has not changed to reflect the deletions, the files you deleted may be kept in your cache folder.

Your cache folder is automatically cleared every three days. If you need to delete sensitive files immediately or need to clear up some space on your hard drive, you can manually clear the cache by following these steps:

rm -R ~/Dropbox/.dropbox.cache/*

  • Marvellous. Thanks for that. But why have they only now been appearing (after over 2 months since beginning to use dropbox on Ubuntu)?
    – 24601
    Jul 31 '14 at 7:22
  • .dropbox.cache only appears when you delete files from your Dropbox folder. It keeps them around for 3 days in case you add them again, so you don't have to redownload them. I have updated my answer to reflect this.
    – jmiserez
    Jul 31 '14 at 7:27
  • Thanks for the prompt reply. What of the .Dropbox text file in the >Home>Dropbox folder (not in the cache folder)? Is this automatically purged too after 3 days?
    – 24601
    Jul 31 '14 at 7:48
  • Is it possible to hide it? Curious why it should just suddenly appear after 2 months. Grateful for your kind attention to this issue.
    – 24601
    Jul 31 '14 at 7:58
  • 1
    @NoviceUserFrance, .dropbox dir is almost always there. Are you sure that you simply enabled "show hidden files" in the file manager and started to see them? (it can happen... trust me. Especially since nautilus dropped the per-directory preferences, and apply them globally --- no comment).
    – Rmano
    Jul 31 '14 at 11:52

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