Dropbox Apologises After Restoring Deleted User Files

Fault saw deleted user files, some of which were eight years old, restored to customer’s Dropbox accounts

Dropbox finds itself at the centre of a privacy row after it emerged it had been inadvertently storing deleted files and data belonging to some of its customers.

The deleted files and folders, which reportedly dated back as far back as 2009, were restored to user accounts, because of a bug with Dropbox’s systems.

The storage provider has said it has now rectified the bug and has apologised to customers for any inconvenience and confusion it caused.

Dropbox Business graphic

Deleted Data

The discovery that Dropbox had been accidentially holding on to people’s deleted data came after a number of Dropbox users began noticing three weeks ago that previously deleted folders and files had suddenly reappeared from the dead.

Dropbox users began to complain about the issue on this support thread.

“Something very weird just happened with my dropbox account,” wrote a user called Alex. “Out of nowhere, a folder which was deletec [sic] about 2 years ago re appeared on my dropbox. It has the files as they were, which makes me wonder why the hell dropbox is still keeping these files after a few years that they have been deleted?”

“It makes me think this is a serious bug and on another note, why the hell is dropbox keeping data that was deleted 2 years ago?” he added.

“I installed dropbox earlier tonight and I allowed it to do a full sync with my local folder,” wrote another user called emilg. “When I checked it out as it was close to finishing I found 2 extra folders in there.”

“They are so old I initially didn’t even recognize them,” said emilg. “Took me a couple of minutes to realize they’re a couple of folders with project files from about 6-7 years ago, so extremely old.”

Silicon contacted Dropbox about the issue and was referred to the firm’s online statement on the matter.

“Thanks everyone for your patience while we worked on a way to clean up the inadvertently restored files and folders,” wrote Dropbox staffer Ross S.

“We’ve built a fix that will automatically return this content to the way it should be: deleted and out of your Dropbox. This will only impact the inadvertently restored files and folders, and only if you haven’t updated them. We’ll begin rolling out the fix to affected users’ accounts later today.”

It seems that the fix will only impact the inadvertently restored files and folders, and that Dropbox will automatically roll out the fix so users don’t need to do a thing.

“Thanks again for your patience, and we’re sorry for any inconvenience and confusion we’ve caused,” Dropbox wrote.


Privacy Issue

Some privacy campaigners may feel that Dropbox’s explanation of the matter is somewhat lacking, considering the fact that it had been storing information that users had thought deleted many years ago.

The issue is especially concerning as Dropbox is a hugely popular cloud storage and sharing service. Indeed, it has 500 million users and is present in 8 million businesses, of which 200,000 are paying customers.

It has a strict policy to permanent purge deleted data after a 30 day cooling off period (in case the user changes his or her mind).

COO Dennis Woodside previously told Silicon that Dropbox needed the principles of privacy and security to prevail at a regulatory level within the European Union and that it was happy that Privacy Shield, the replacement for Safe Harbour, had been finalised.

“We believe in the privacy of data. We don’t use that data for anything like advertising and those values are very consistent,” he said.

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