Is there any kind of workaround to get Dropbox on iPhone iOS to work as well as it does on Android?

Installing Dropbox on the iPhone requires manually triggering the upload process instead of it running itself in the background. Dropbox only runs for about 10 minutes every time you open the app or change location. If you rarely change location then it might as well be manual upload only. In my situation I rarely change location for days and even a week or two at a time. I might take as many as thirty photos, but they will only start uploading when I open the app, and they will only continue uploading for 10 minutes.

In addition to that, it seems to hang for no reason at every tenth photo or so (which might be a different issue, but please address it if you have ideas). The final result is a lot more annoyance than it's worth.

On Android, I installed Dropbox, set it up, then I never opened it again for nearly a year and it worked flawlessly.

How can I get the iOS version of Dropbox to work like it does on Android?


7 Answers 7


You can't. There are restrictions with iOS multitasking that prevent apps like this from running all the time. You might be able to bypass this by jailbreaking though.

Also, apps can't bypass this on the App Store due to guidelines such as:

2.5 Apps that use non-public APIs will be rejected

Source: https://developer.apple.com/appstore/resources/approval/guidelines.html

  • As I feared ... Someone on a forum I was reading mentioned something about running as a service. I think it was hypothetical, though.
    – user68964
    Commented Jan 29, 2014 at 17:03
  • Is this only true if the phone is using cellular? If it is on WiFi, does it upload after each picture taken? I ask as I use my phone for both personal and business. Might take a personal picture and have a client show up that I need to show a graph to. Ideally, if on Wifi (which I always am) I would be able to snap the personal picture, wait 10 seconds, and delete if from my phone knowing it will be in the DropBox cloud later.
    – TopSch
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 22:10
  • No, the behavior on wifi is the same as described here.
    – octern
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 4:04
  • 6
    Recently, my wife needed to sync 5000+ photos from her iPhone top Dropbox. What helped her was to disable Auto-Lock (set it to "Never"), fire up Dropbox, keep it in the foreground and plug the iPhone into external power supply. Then leave it alone. After two nights, all photos were synced. Not an ideal solution but at least no need to re-open Dropbox every ten minutes or so.
    – Uwe Keim
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 5:55

Obviously, Android and iOS are two very different operating systems, with different ways of doing things. Apple chooses not to let apps run in the background forever. This helps reduce the drain on the device's battery. That being said, "Background App Refresh" has been around for a while. App devs have to add this capability to their apps. It isn't done automatically.


Jailbreak your phone and then download 'Background Manager' and it'll bypass Apple always killing DropBox in the background every 10 minutes. It's great because now DropBox will upload in the background or at night when I'm sleeping, while the iphone is plugged in!

  • True this might help. Too bad I have to take such extreme measures for something so simple.
    – user68964
    Commented Oct 3, 2014 at 21:27
  • Unfortunately it's no longer under development and won't install on iOS 8
    – fregante
    Commented Nov 12, 2014 at 8:26

The "Background uploading", even though it has been here for a while, as the OP said, is only temporary; that is, one must open the app once in a while, and the app is still closed after that 10 min period. The only real background upload happens when the phone detects a location change. Anyway, now at least I know why I have to manually open the app to upload the photos.


My photos suddenly began refusing to upload in the middle of a hike. They stubbornly stayed stuck even after letting Dropbox have focus overnight, as @UweKeim suggested. I kept this screen lit for more than 12 hours, to no avail:

enter image description here

What got the logjam moving for me was manually moving a few files from Photos to the Dropbox Camera Uploads folder.

  • in the iPhone Photos app, Library tab, select one photo (one at a time, smh)
  • upload icon
  • "Save to Dropbox" action (not the Dropbox logo)
  • Choose a Different Folder... (Camera Uploads in my case)
  • Save
  • delete the photo from the Photos app

I can't be sure which file Dropbox was choked on. There was one 25MB panorama, a couple 18MB videos. (I've uploaded much larger photos without incident.) After I moved about a half dozen of the oldest files that were due to be uploaded next, and deleted them from the Photos app, then gave Dropbox focus, the rest uploaded automatically.

Feeling the need for some iCloud antitrust busting. Just sayin'.


There is a new feature in the settings named ‘Camera Upload’. This is basically an automatic sync of your created photos to dropbox.

If you enable this you'll also have an extra option popup: ‘Background Uploading’, however as far as I can tell, this works only for the uploads done by the ‘Camera Upload’ feature.

Dropbox doc links:
What is background uploading?
How do I enable or disable Camera Upload?

  • That feature is neither new nor resolves the issue. In the question, I mention that it uploads only if you change location. That's how the "background uploading" feature works. It is a faux background process. It is triggered by changing location, not by taking a picture, and will only upload for about 10 minutes. So if you've been sitting at home for five days and have taken 50 pictures and 5 videos, 10 minutes is very unlikely enough time to get them all uploaded.
    – user68964
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 17:11
  • 1
    On android, however, the background upload process is a true background process and uploads immediately after a picture is taken, assuming you are connected to the internet.
    – user68964
    Commented May 30, 2016 at 17:12

Dropbox for iPhone has a new feature called "Background uploading" and it does just that. Check the settings icon and enable it.

  • 2
    They have had "Background uploading" for a while. The issue is that it is a faux background process. It only actually uploads if you open the app or change location. If this is still true, then this doesn't answer my question. On Android, Dropbox will upload within seconds of saving the picture, without having to do anything.
    – user68964
    Commented Sep 30, 2014 at 21:18

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