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Dropbox Bug Restores Files Deleted 7 Years Ago

Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud-based services for storing and sharing files across multiple computers and with others. It has a strict policy on what happens to any files you've decided to delete from your account: they are kept for 30 days just in case you change your mind, but after that they are purged.

That's the policy anyway. BadCyber brought to our attention the fact that some users discovered not all of their deleted files were purged from Dropbox's servers. In fact, files that were deleted as far back as seven years ago reappeared in some Dropbox folders last week.

A Dropbox forum thread discussing how deleted files between two and seven years old had magically reappeared was met by some with disbelief. But as more Dropbox users reported the same recurrence, suspicion grew that Dropbox servers may have been compromised in some way.

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Thankfully, that isn't the case. Dropbox responded to queries by explaining "A bug was preventing some files and folders from being fully deleted off of our servers, even after users had deleted them from their Dropbox accounts. While fixing the bug, we inadvertently restored the impacted files and folders to those users' accounts. This was our mistake; it wasn't due to a third party and you weren't hacked."

While it's good news Dropbox wasn't hacked, it's worrying that a bug existed for seven years that prevented deleted Dropbox files from being removed permanently. I can only imagine how much old data was left on Dropbox's servers waiting to be removed. The issue had to do with "metadata inconsistencies" on the files and folders, which blocked their deletion.

The bug has now been fixed and Dropbox is rolling out another fix that will re-delete those very old files added back into accounts. However, if you've updated or moved those old files since they appeared, they will remain until you decide to delete them again manually.

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