Dropbox accidentally deletes one user’s album of over 8,000 photos

Thousands of files stored in Dropbox have been accidentally deleted due to a glitch that has affected the service’s Selective Sync feature.

Jan Čurn, CTO of VirtualRig Studio, is the one unlucky enough to have suffered the bug that has meant 8,343 files have been permanently deleted from the cloud storage service, most of which were photos.

Čurn published a lengthily blog post that starts off by explaining that he wanted to free up some space on his laptop and to do so was planning to move three directories full of photos to the cloud, as well as a selection of other files.

Shortly after the syncing process began on 29 April, the Dropbox client came to a halt and once this happened Čurn restarted it and all seemed to be well.

“These directories are large and they might be too big of a bite for Dropbox, I thought, and unsycned them one by one instead,” he explained. “Everything worked well, the directories disappeared from the local hard drive, but they were still available on Dropbox’s website. All good.”

It was only when Čurn came back to check the files at a later date that he found the directories empty after a “delete event” that took place on 29 April had resulted in the loss of every single file.

Čurn thinks that the reason for the deletion is due to a process on Dropbox’s Selective Sync service that sees files earmarked for the process deleted locally before Dropbox’s settings are implemented.

For its part the cloud storage specialist has been able to recover 1,463 of the files and handed over credit that can be used on various other services that are provided by the firm.

“Unfortunately for me, Dropbox only keeps a copy of [the] deleted files for 30 days and I found out about this event after two months,” he added.  

Čurn has recommended that Dropbox makes changes to its Selective Sync service so that cases like this don’t happen again including machine learning techniques that prevent this kind of case becoming a regular occurrence.

As the blog post points out, using the cloud as the only backup for files looks to still be slightly risky and until problems like this are eradicated, a hard copy should also be kept.