Recovering Deleted Dropbox Files

File sharing and online collaboration is the driving force of Dropbox.  It does a stellar job in this area, but like all tools, remains subject to the human factor.  What if you, your staff, or someone with whom you are sharing a Dropbox folder accidentally deletes a file?  Most everyone has had this experience on their personal computer, so it’s bound to happen sooner or later in the cloud.

If you notice a file has been deleted and less than 30 days have passed, you can easily recover the file on the Dropbox Web site.  Here are the steps, as explained in the Dropbox Help Center:

Restore Dropbox files

If more than 30 days have elapsed, you are out of luck unless you have a Dropbox Pro or Dropbox for Teams account.  Both include Packrat which “captures unlimited snapshots of your files,  allowing you to recover any file as far back in time as you like.”  Dropbox Pro and Dropbox for Teams users may also be able to restore a file from the hidden cache on their computer.  (Instructions are provided for Windows OS.  Contact Dropbox if you are using a different system.)  Dropbox recommends trying the restore steps described on their Help page first.)

Take Aways

1. Backup.  I can’t say that enough times.  See How to Backup Your Computer on the PLF Web site for a thorough discussion on the subject.  Select Practice Aids and Forms > Technology.

2. Train.  Make sure everyone you add to your Dropbox account understands how it works.  I’m writing this post because my husband and I had a personal experience with a family member who mistakenly deleted some shared files.  We successfully restored the files on the Dropbox Web site (and had a backups, just in case).  The family member deleted files after she received an e-mail message warning her that her Dropbox folder was full.  At the time our shared Dropbox folder was at about 50% capacity.  She had one item in her personal Dropbox folder.  Whether this was an error by Dropbox or malicious spam, we don’t know.  After the family member deleted the Dropbox files she also deleted the e-mail.

3. Share thoughtfully as all users are not equal.  However, if you follow the other two take-aways (backup and train) sharing is far less risky.

Copyright 2013 Beverly Michaelis