I have been using Dropbox for years now and I have never once had a problem with it…until a week ago when over 2000 files mysteriously vanished from my Dropbox account.
For the record, I love Dropbox – to the point where Dropbox is now integral to running my business – here are two examples:
Dropbox Lightroom Catalog Sync – How To Set It Up
5 Tips to Use Dropbox for Small Business
However, when 2000 files go missing (many critical) I have been forced to decide if I need to cancel my Dropbox account and look for a safer and more reliable cloud file storage solution.
In this article, I will explain how my files were deleted and what you can do to make sure that yours are safe – if you use a Samsung phone and Dropbox – make sure you read this!!!
How Over 2000 Files Were Accidentally Deleted from Dropbox
I use a Samsung phone. I’ve had it for years. However, the internal memory card was getting full, so while looking through the storage on my phone I noticed a whole pile of files in the Documents folder and deleted them.
I don’t ever save any documents to my phone (anything important goes to Dropbox – do you see where this is going?…), so I didn’t think anything of it – I wasn’t sure what was there or why they were there – all I knew was that they were taking up space so I cleared out the folder.
It took over a week to notice that anything was missing from Dropbox.
I would go to open a file and it would be gone. Hmmm weird, oh well, I must have deleted that.
Until I went to open some tax documents that I was SURE I did not delete – they were gone too. So I checked the deleted files and noticed that in addition to the file I was looking for, there were a few other files that had been deleted from the same folder.
OK – I must have made a mistake and deleted the whole folder – no problem, I can restore them.
It took a few days and more missing files before I really realized that most of the Word, Excel and PDF files that are stored in Dropbox had vanished. All of my photos and videos were still there – but I finally realized that there were a ton of document files that had been deleted.
At this point, I knew that I had all these files backed up, and because I had realized that they had been deleted within Dropbox’s 30 day recovery window, everything could be recovered directly from Dropbox (however I have to admit that I was dreading the prospect of manually recovering all these files folder by folder).
And I wanted to know WTF happened!
As it turns out, Samsung has a special “DocumentSync” folder on their devices that is linked with Dropbox. I had no idea that this folder existed or that it was even connected to Dropbox (it’s not the Dropbox app), but when I deleted those files from my phone’s Documents folder to make space – the Samsung app then also deleted the original copies in Dropbox.
Poof – over 2000 documents gone (literally overnight).
What Did Dropbox Customer Support Do About It?
For some reason, Dropbox does not have a way for a user to restore mass files. You can view all the files that you’ve deleted in the past 30 days (the window you have available to recover them), but you have to restore them one at a time.
You can restore groups of files folder by folder – but even that would have taken me all day.
So I put in a support ticket with Dropbox.
At first I was pretty ticked off that there is no live chat or phone support – this was a bit of an emergency that I wanted sorted out right away.
It took a few hours for them to respond, but in the end I’m pretty happy with Dropbox support – they restored all my deleted files, figured out exactly what had happened and gave me precise instructions to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
Here is the email I received from Dropbox support:
Aldo, Nov 3, 1:08 PM PDT:
My name is Aldo and I am part of our Restorations Team. Thanks for your patience.
It appears that these documents were deleted from the “Samsung Device” app. Samsung created a new deep Dropbox integration for Samsung devices that allows access to all documents in your Dropbox account from a special “DocumentSync” folder on your phone. This DocumentSync feature allows you to add, edit, and delete any files that appear in this folder and these modifications will show up both on your phone and in Dropbox.
I’ve ran a restoartion and it appears to have restored some files you may have missed from this type of deletion. If you find more that are missing, please let me know their names and locations and I’ll be happy to look for them.
You also have the ability to see which user and computer or app added, deleted, or changed a file by looking at the “previous version history” on the web site. For more information, please visit the Help Center article:
DocumentSync is different from the Dropbox application on your phone and you can disable the DocumentSync feature without impacting the Dropbox app. You can turn off the DocumentSync feature on your phone by following these instructions:
1. Tap your device’s “Menu” button
2. Tap “Settings”
3. Tap “Cloud”
4. Tap “Documents” or “DocumentSync”
5. Toggle off
You can also disable this app from the Dropbox website. To do this:
1. Log in to https://www.dropbox.com/account#security
2. Under “Apps linked” find the Samsung Device app.
3. Click the small “x” at the far right of where it says Samsung Device.
Sorry for any confusion this might have caused, but I hope this helps! Feel free to let me know if you have any further questions.
1.TURN OFF THE “DOCUMENTSYNC” APP on your Samsung phone, and disable it from Dropbox.
2. Make sure your Dropbox folder is backed up!
Would You Continue To Use Dropbox
If you would have asked me that this afternoon I would have said hell no – Dropbox is toast!
However, they were able to recover everything relatively painlessly – and technically, it wasn’t even really Dropbox’s fault.
It was an app on my Samsung phone that fu*ked things up , but I need to trust Dropbox and I would expect Dropbox to have some sort of failsafe in place to make sure that a user can’t just delete a massive number of files in one pop, and maybe add additional recovery options for mass deletions (everything was backed up on my end – but restoring backups is such messy and time consuming solution).
I have decided that I will give Dropbox a single strike (mainly because I am too busy to bother finding and setting up an alternative) – but I no longer really trust them (which might be a good thing).
What do you think?
Have you had files deleted from Dropbox? Did you switch to another cloud storage solution?
Are you happy with Dropbox? What has your experience been with Dropbox customer service?
Leave a comment below and let us know!