Dropbox's Streaming Sync promises better transfers for large files

The cloud storage giant touts the Streaming Sync method produces multi-client sync rates up to two times faster than before.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

Dropbox has upgraded the infrastructure behind how users automatically upload and sync content from the Dropbox desktop client, a process now dubbed as Streaming Sync.

With Streaming Sync, Dropbox interweaves the previously-divided upload and download phases of file synchronization, streamlining the data from between its servers to user devices.

The cloud storage giant touts this method produces multi-client sync rates up to two times faster than before.

Dropbox engineer Nipunn Koorapati explained further in a blog post on Friday that Streaming Sync now forms the "backbone" of the "magic" folders located on the cloud-based service.

The upgrade is especially geared towards syncing larger files (more than 16MB in size), which should reap the biggest benefits from the extra sync power.

A full breakdown of the development process is available on the Dropbox Tech Blog. Koorapati dove deeper, pinpointing where Streaming Sync will work best:

We found that streaming sync only affects files that are large enough to require multiple store/retrieve requests, so we limited the feature to large new files. Streaming sync provides an up-to-2x improvement on multi-client sync time. The improvement approaches 2x as the file’s size increases given equal UL/DL bandwidth, but in practice, the speedup is limited by the slower side of the connection. We did a test across two machines with the same network setup, (~1.2 mb/s UL, ~5 mb/s DL). There is an approximately 25% improvement on sync time.

Streaming Sync is currently being rolled out in waves via beta version 2.9 of the desktop client and stable version 2.10. All users should be able to see the results within the next few weeks.

Also new in these releases, users will be able to scroll through menu notifications to view recent changes in their respective Dropbox accounts.

Image via Dropbox

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