Cut your 13" MacBook Air battery life from 12 hours to 3 by using Dropbox

Despite not delivering a MacBook Air with a retina display, Apple users were duly pleased with the promise of all-day battery life from their laptops following the company's move to Intel's 'Haswell' processors. The 13" model achieves an impressive 12 hours of advertised battery life, although subsequent tests have shown the device can last even longer, whilst the 11" model can deliver an equally impressive 9 hours.

The lengthy battery life does, however, depend on which applications you may be using. High-demand programs like Flash, Photoshop and video-editing suites will cut down your battery significantly whilst plodding along with a simple web browser and a document editor should see you tapping away all day. Dropbox is the sort of app you wouldn't expect to drain away your power, however programmer and Qwikast founder Nico Schuele has found using it slashes the battery life from 12 hours to just three.

In his tests, Schuele found after using his Air for 20 minutes, the machine reported only 3 hours of battery life remained. Upon further investigation, Schuele found Dropbox to be the culprit, hogging 90% of his CPU through file-syncing. Even after this was over, the app continued to draw an unusual amount of energy, and pausing it only solved the problem marginally. Quitting Dropbox completely saw the battery life shoot up again to 14 hours (via iStat).

If you're an avid Dropbox user and thinking of purchasing a MacBook Air, we recommend you stick it out for a bit until this particular bug is fixed. 

Source: Nico Schuele via GeekImage via Apple

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We should all have Dropbox on our computer, it actually charges your battery while you use it!
From the article, you have 12 hours of battery life before starting it, and 14 hours after quitting it. If that's not amazing, I don't know what is!

Just goes to show that one bad application can spoil all battery claims.

This is a perfect example of why MS didn't open Windows RT Desktop to developers.
The Windows Runtime is battery concious. Unrestricted destkop processes are not.

Ah well, Someone will fix the issue.
I can see the situation playing out like this:

Dropbox: Apple, you have a bug in your API.
Apple: No, you're poor coders.
Dropbox: Ok here's a working sample which exposes the bug.
Apple: Uhm, we'll look into it.
...
...
...
Apple: Introducing Apple OSX 10.9 super freaky jungle cat, now with Dropbox support.

"If you're an avid Dropbox user and thinking of purchasing a MacBook Air, we recommend you stick it out for a bit until this particular bug is fixed."

So it's Apple's fault is it? Oh, I forgot: Apple make Dropbox. /s

It's one of these people's fault:
- https://www.dropbox.com/about

Therefore all those who use FinalCut Pro should buy Windows PCs. Its not Microsoft's fault that the software does not run on their OS!!!

It is not Apple's fault but if you want more than 3 hrs battery life on your laptop, and want to use the dropbox app, then the MacBook Pro is not one of your options !!!

68k said,
"If you're an avid Dropbox user and thinking of purchasing a MacBook Air, we recommend you stick it out for a bit until this particular bug is fixed."

So it's Apple's fault is it? Oh, I forgot: Apple make Dropbox. /s

It's one of these people's fault:
- https://www.dropbox.com/about

I don think they said Apple had to fix Dropbox's bug. Surely Dropbox will catch wind of it and update their software.

Dashel said,
It will get fixed when Apple buys them to replace the woeful iCloud.

Apple doesn't need to buy Dropbox.

Apple doesn't like filesystems on their mobile devices.

I could see them revamping iCloud for Mac to include it... but not any time soon.

What does a filesystem have to do with access from mobile devices? Apple's cloud isn't even in the same league as MS/Google/Amazon.

Either that or they better be firming up their commitment to Microsoft and its cloud.

Dashel said,
What does a filesystem have to do with access from mobile devices? Apple's cloud isn't even in the same league as MS/Google/Amazon.

Either that or they better be firming up their commitment to Microsoft and its cloud.

Dropbox, SkyDrive, Amazon, etc all have some form of filesystem front end.

iCloud doesnt. It does all the work in the background. Apple doesn't like filesystems.

You can't really use the "hours left" meter as is a very rough estimate based on the workload staying consistent. A real test would be actually run it until it switches off. You'd also want to start after your dropbox has been fully synced as that's a one time operation for a new system and not a normal load.

Just because Neowin doesn't repeat exactly everything the original article does, doesn't mean that the original article is flawed. For example, "Knowing that the battery wasn't deffective, I just turned off the sleep mode in OS X and let it drain completely." It proceeded to die out in the expected 3 hours. So there was nothing wrong with the battery prediction by the Mac.

Anyways, they did also do that test after Dropbox had been fully sync'd: "Turning it on and having all the files in sync (so no indexing/syncing activity), it shows 6 hours and 30 mins at 98%." That's still ridiculous considering Dropbox isn't really doing anything at all.

To sum it up, read the original article before you make your claims based just on the Neowin article.

I've had similar issues in the past on my MBP 2010 13" having its battery drilled by DropBox using high amounts of CPU for long periods of time. I've gotten around it by uninstalling then re-installing DropBox, and (annoyingly) letting it re-sync all my files down to the laptop.

dbam987 said,
I've had similar issues in the past on my MBP 2010 13" having its battery drilled by DropBox using high amounts of CPU for long periods of time. I've gotten around it by uninstalling then re-installing DropBox, and (annoyingly) letting it re-sync all my files down to the laptop.

Same here... I have a Early 2011 MBP 13" i7 outfitted with 16GB RAM, and with Dropbox 1.x everything would be humming along great. The process would usually idle at 0% and minimal usage during syncing operations.

Since they released 2.x, every time DB starts, the process immediately goes to 4-7% idle, and during larger file syncs, I've seen it go to 50%, and there doesn't seem to be any way to throttle it while on battery.

Dropbox needs to fix this ASAP!

Dropbox makes virtually no difference to the battery life on mine.
Also, not sure holding off buying a computer because you're having a problem with one particular piece of software is great advice.

Probably meant a bug in Dropbox, but I'm sure you guys knew that...

That being said, there was a bug in the Windows version that would cause the CPU to run CONSTANTLY at 50% or more if you lost internet connection. We had a proxy at work that time out after a period of time causing this. Could just close the client and re-open to fix it.