NIGHTMARE: Man Claims Dropbox Quietly Deleted More Than 8,000 Of His Personal Files
After using the service for about five years, Curn has come across one of the most terrifying, stomach-churning scenarios one could imagine when relying on cloud storage.
More than 8,000 of his personal files had mysteriously disappeared. To be exact, 8,343 of his files were missing.
Curn detailed his experience on Medium, complete with his entire correspondence with Dropbox discussing the problem. In his post, Curn writes that he had decided to use Dropbox's Selective Sync feature when the hard drive in his laptop was running low on space. Selective Sync allows you to manually choose which folders from Dropbox you'd like to sync with your computer.
Curn decided to use Dropbox as the sole storage space for a large amount of his files. He writes that he unchecked a bunch of folders using Dropbox's Selective Sync tool, meaning that these unchecked folders would only live in Dropbox, not on his computer.
"After that, the Dropbox client froze and didn't show any sign of life for a couple of minutes, so I decided to kill it and restart again," Curn wrote.
He then tried to sync them one-by-one since the folders were so large. He thought the process had worked out perfectly - the folders had disappeared from his local storage, but were still available on Dropbox. It wasn't until about two months later he realized that he was missing a giant chunk of his work and personal files.
After contacting Dropbox, Curn came to the conclusion that this mysterious deletion has to do with the way Dropbox's Selective Sync feature works.
According to Curn, Dropbox reportedly deletes these files from your local storage before it tells its servers about the changes you made to your Selective Sync settings. So, if Dropbox crashes while it's synching your files, the files can be at risk of permanent deletion. When the client restarts, it only sees the files that have yet to be synched before the crash occurred.
Dropbox is only able to recover your deleted files within 30 days. In Curn's case, it had been more than 60 days by the time he realized his files were gone.
It's important to note that these kinds of situations can be avoided by actively backing up your work - meaning you should store important files in several safe places to avoid losing them.
Here's what Dropbox had to say to Curn:
Marla, Jul 01 09:47 AM:
There are a number of different reasons that a delete could happen, but the Dropbox desktop client does not have the ability to tell how or why files were deleted, only that they were deleted. Possible reasons for unexpected deletions include:
· a user dragging the files/folders out of the Dropbox folder (or a shared folder) instead of copying them;
· backup software installed on the computer which unmounts the hard disk;
· human error (i.e. an inadvertent delete keystroke).
The Dropbox folder is just a normal folder and the Dropbox software only responds to changes after they happen. Neither the Dropbox desktop client nor the Dropbox servers have the ability to delete your files on their own.
Even a Dropbox bug or glitch would be on the client and not the server. Please try installing the latest version of the client. It has the latest fixes in it and may resolve the issue you're experiencing.
We've reached out to Dropbox for comment and to see if this type of scenario is common, and will update this article accordingly.