Heads Up: Dropbox Bug is Eating Files

dropbox-logo[1]Reports are coming in from a couple different sources today that Dropbox has gone cannibal.

According to emails sent to users (I haven’t gotten one), Dropbox is reporting that a bug in the selective sync feature has resulted in files going missing:


We’re reaching out to let you know about an issue affecting Selective Sync that caused some files to be deleted from Dropbox. This problem occurred when the Dropbox desktop application shut down or restarted while users were applying Selective Sync settings.

Based on our investigation of this issue, we think you may be among the small number of users who were affected.

If you haven’t used Selective Sync before, you can stop reading now because you weren’t affected.

If you have used Selective Sync, we wanted to check whether your Dropbox may have been affected. We’ve set up a personalized web page where you can see if there are files that shouldn’t have been deleted and try to restore them.

I haven’t gotten an email, and I don’t see any official confirmation on Twitter or the Dropbox blog, but Engadget did turn up a couple different reports so it is reasonably safe to assume that this story is true.

According to the emails, Dropbox is actively trying to fix the issue, and they are also making up for the lost files by offering those affected a free year of Dropbox Pro. There’s no word yet on how many were affected.


Hmm. While I would like to snark on this issue, I think the more important story here is that we now see that you can’t rely on the cloud services quite as much they would claim.

Dropbox, for example, offers PC apps which will let you sync certain folders on your PC to your account on their servers. This includes whichever folder you use for current work, but clearly that’s not a good idea anymore. This bug has also shown that you shouldn’t sync your main storage to Dropbox, either, but instead treat the cloud storage provider as an alternative to a local backup – an external hard disk, for example.

I know that no one has ever really said that you should sync your main working directory, but Dropbox does make it perilously easy to do just that. Clearly caution is in order.

image  by Hugo Quintero

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Scott Lewis13 October, 2014

    Plenty of cases for selective sync still. But one should never rely on your cloud provider for backup. I have a server at home that has all my DropBox data. That server backs up locally to USB and remotely to a cloud backup provider. I then sync selectively on my laptops, which have limited space. So my critical files are always local to my laptop, all files are on the server and backed up two different ways, but on the road I can also logon to Dropbox and pull a file I didn’t expect to need. It also let’s me use their sharing feature.

    But no, trusting a cloud provider is not the same as having a data protection policy.

    That said I hope I get hit. I’d love a free year.

  2. Fahirsch13 October, 2014

    The selective sync is of folders inside the Dropbox folder. It can be used to not to sync to Dropbox or from Dropbox

  3. DavidW13 October, 2014

    I don’t use selective sync, but that got my attention! I put my faith in dropbox and I have many important files there. I’ve backed it up, but maybe I need to be thinking multiple hd’s and not depend on the cloud.


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