Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dropbox deletes 8000 backup photos from user

If you're a regular reader, I hope you'll know how important backups are. But the truth is, most people only really start to care about backups after experiencing the despair of losing valuable data. Today, I bring you a case that shows that using Dropbox for backups might not be as foolproof as you'd expect.

Cloud sync service like Dropbox are extremely useful (and amazing), but one needs to understand that they're also fallible and can easily propagate and amplify mistakes. This was something a user recently found out when 8000 photos vanished with little chances of recovery.

It seems to be an unfortunate series of events. As he was trying to save local disc space, he activated the selective sync feature, and deselected his photo folders, so they would reside only on the cloud. But during the process the Dropbox process seemed to hang, and he terminated it and restarted it. The photos were no longer in his computer and he assumed everything was as it should. Little did he know that Dropbox assumed he had actually deleted the files and also deleted the photos in the cloud.

Should he noticed it in the first 30 days, he would have been able to "undelete" the photos. But he only found out about it 2 months later, as he headed into the folder to find out some photos.

So, whether by mistake, a bug, or any other reason - a file syncing service might actually do more harm than good, and it would delete your files from every other machine you had it set up with. Although I still recommend you use Dropbox and similar service, and make the most out of it - don't forget that won't save you from having an offline backup (whether in an external hard drive that you connect just when you want to back up your files; or even in a backup cloud service, like BackBlaze or Crashplan).

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