Migrating Dropbox CPU Spikes OSX – How to fix?

November 4, 2015 - 2 minutes read

Recently I was migrating to a new Macbook Pro 🙂 and am currently using about 200GB of space on my Dropbox account. My first attempt was to just install Dropbox and let it do the work, but a few days went by and Dropbox was still at about 9% with 500,000,000 some files to go. Well this wasn’t going to work for me, so I plugged in my old hard drive and did a recursive copy through terminal.

This was a lot faster, about 30 mins and it was done, afterwards I launched the Dropbox app and let the syncing begin. As I was working on things I noticed my fan getting louder and louder, which I knew was from the CPU, a quick check to Activity Monitor and I could see Dropbox eating up 200% of my CPU. No good!

If you are running Dropbox on your Mac you may notice random CPU spikes when adding a bunch of files. You have a couple options to avoid the spikes.

  1. Turn off Dropbox until your going to bed and let it run all night.
  2. Install cpulimit to reduce the amount of CPU Dropbox is allowed to use.

I installed cpulimit using Homebrew.

Inside Activity Monitor under the CPU tab look for the Dropbox app and find the PID (Process ID).



Then execute the following command to set the CPU limit for Dropbox.

Where -p is the process id and -l is the percentage you want to limit Dropbox’s CPU usage to.

Then check your Activity Monitor to see the CPU drastically decrease. Hope this helps.

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