Advisable to use Maestral to sync Dropbox on new Mac Studio?

I am setting up my new Mac Studio (M1 Max, 4TB, arrived today!). Is it advisable to install Maestral to sync my Dropbox folder, or should I install the real Dropbox app? I do not need any of Dropbox’s fancy features, just reliable sync for my 40 GB Dropbox folder (2 TB Dropbox plan). I may soon do some video editing that could result in adding larger video files to Dropbox occasionally, but there is no specific need to do so.

There are two recent MPU forum threads discussing Maestral, but I didn’t want to hijack those threads with my specific question. Links to those MPU forum threads:

About 10 weeks ao @tjluoma described a Maestral problem with the Dropbox API. More recently @fairlydoughnut advised about a Maestral problem with syncing very large files. Others report no problems with Maestral and many report that the macOS Dropbox app is overly complex and a resource hog.

Is there a consensus on using Maestral with M1 Macs? Use Maestral but avoid syncing large video files? Just ignore the heavy resource usage and continue with the standard Dropbox app?

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I have a related question:

Last week I installed the Dropbox app onto a new laptop. If that was a mistake and the consensus is that Maestral really is the way to go, how does on uninstall Dropbox and then install Maestral?

I would only use Maestral if I was worried about the system resources Dropbox uses, mostly memory use. But with a Mac Studio M1 Max I would not worry about that, so I would prefer the Dropbox client.
Another reason to switch to Maestral might be that the new Dropbox App uses the new File Provider API from Apple which introduces some changes you may not like. Maestral also supports multiple Dropbox accounts which if you need that.

Maestral has some limits related to the Dropbox API. If you work frequently with large files the Dropbox client works more efficient and supports larger files, Maestral does not support “binary diff”.

I’m not using Dropbox anymore, but I have found Maestral mostly stable, you can try it out by installing it next to the Dropbox client, just make sure you sync you files to a different folder.

Just like any other app on macOS :slight_smile:

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There isn’t going to be a huge difference in resource usage as both the official Dropbox client and Maestral are written in Python, which is an incredibly inefficient language. They will both grind resources as it’s running in a virtual machine.

My guess is Maestral will be a little better as it doesn’t have the bloat of the official client.

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I’m not sure I can speak to what’s advisable, but I’m using Maestral on my MacBook Pro. I haven’t used the Dropbox app in about a year. At the time, it was very resource intensive and I hated how it tried to take over every app and menu on my system. I just want file sync. That said…

Issues with Maestral

  • Occasionally (once/month?) Maestral will just quit silently. I won’t notice that it wasn’t syncing until I look at a file I know has changed and see that on this computer, it hasn’t.
  • As others have mentioned, long files take forever. I upload two large video files each week for someone else to use and I’ve taken to opening Dropbox in the browser to drop those files in directly rather than waiting on Maestral to sync them up.

Features I Miss from Dropbox

  • Right click share links. Even though I don’t want Dropbox adding itself to every app and menu on my computer, the share link with two clicks was useful. To work around this, I have Dropbox opened in a pinned tab in Safari and click over to that when I need a share link.

I thought about giving Dropbox another try recently, but the previous experience was so bad I’m still hesitant.


Could you elucidate a little further on this? What changes did this introduce? I know that there was something about the inability to use Smart Sync, but my assumption was that Smart Sync would be re-introduced when they switched to the File Provider API.

And does this mean they’ve actually completed that transition to the File Provider API? Last I heard, Dropbox’s implementation was still broken — but that was a while ago.

I have been looking for info about what changed in the new Dropbox client. I found this link Dropbox support for macOS 12.3 | Dropbox Help.
It seems to have something to do with opening online only files with third party apps. Also your Dropbox folder will be moved to a location outside of your homefolder.

To be honest i’m not sure if it is the case with Dropbox, but with OneDrive the change meant you cannot mark you complete OneDrive as “Keep files local”, you wil have to do this per folder or file.

Interesting. My stuff is all still in the Home folder, but I’m not worried about the rest of this at all and performance loss was negligible after install. Same with battery life hit. Still incredible battery and performance.

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If everything is fine I would just stick with the Dropbox client.

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I authored one of the messages you linked, which talked about how I switched to Maestral on my 2015 MacBook Pro. The difference was stunning. The Dropbox client is a performance pig. Maestral eliminated the stutters, the fans, the battery drain. Now I am on an M1 Mac so Dropbox’s performance issues probably don’t matter; but I am still on Maestral and it’s working fine.

In the beginning, there were bugs (no lost data) but Maestral has been revised often and it seems rock solid now.

But the M1 is so fast that the performance drain of the Dropbox client is not likely to matter. So it comes down to which makes you feel more or less comfortable.

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