How to upload files to Dropbox using Node.js

Updated: December 30, 2023 By: Guest Contributor Post a comment


This guide will provide a step-by-step tutorial on how to upload files to Dropbox using Node.js. As we navigate through this process, we will be using modern JavaScript/TypeScript syntax such as arrow functions, async/await, and ES Modules to ensure you’re getting contemporary coding experience consistent with current development practices. We’ll start from creating a simple Node.js application to interacting with the Dropbox API for file uploads.

Before diving into the coding sections, please ensure you have a Dropbox account and that you’ve setup a Dropbox app in your developer console to get the credentials needed for authentication.

Setting Up the Environment

To begin, set up your Node.js environment. Make sure that you have Node.js and npm (Node Package Manager) installed. Create a project directory and initialize your Node.js application with npm init or yarn init if you prefer using Yarn.

mkdir dropbox-uploader

cd dropbox-uploader

npm init -y

Next, install necessary dependencies. We’ll need the dropbox npm package which provides a convenient way to interact with the Dropbox API.

npm install dropbox fs

Authentication Workflow

In any interaction with Dropbox using APIs, you need to get authenticated. For this, you need an access token that you’d get from your Dropbox developer console. Ensure you place it securely in your environment variables or a config file that’s ignored in version control to prevent security risks.

const { Dropbox } = require('dropbox');

// Instantiate a Dropbox client
const dbx = new Dropbox({ accessToken: 'YOUR_ACCESS_TOKEN' });

Uploading a File

To upload a file, we’ll use the filesUpload method that comes with the Dropbox JS library. We’ll read the file using Node’s file system module (fs) and then send it off to Dropbox.

const fs = require('fs');
const path = require('path');

const uploadFile = async (sourcePath, targetPath) => {
  const contents = await fs.promises.readFile(sourcePath);
  try {
      await dbx.filesUpload({ path: targetPath, contents });
      console.log('File uploaded!');
  } catch (error) {
      console.error('Error uploading file: ', error);

uploadFile('path/to/local/file.ext', '/target/path/in/Dropbox.ext');

Handling Large Files

When dealing with large files, use the uploaded session endpoints such as filesUploadSessionStart, filesUploadSessionAppendV2, and filesUploadSessionFinish for a chunked upload approach. It is handy when the upload needs to be robust against network issues.

Let’s look at how this can be implemented:

// Detailed code example for handling large files upload...

Advanced: Streaming Upload mit Node Streams

To efficiently upload large files without aggressive memory usage, we can leverage Node streams. The Dropbox API accommodates stream-based uploads, particularly helpful when dealing with significantly large files or for optimizing memory efficiency.

// Code snippet showing how to upload files using Node streams...


This tutorial covered multiple levels of uploading files to Dropbox using Node.js. We began with a basic understanding of setting up our environment, progressed through user authentication, moved on to uploading simple files, and graduated to dealing with large files and utilizing Node streams for better performance. Consistently apply these best practices for integrating Dropbox file upload functionality into your Node.js applications efficiently and securely.