PIM disaster: a loss of over 8000 photos due to a Dropbox bug

This is Jan's story of how he lost over 8000 photos and videos on Dropbox due to a bug in the client. This is an abstract from the story:

"I moved there [Dropbox] all of my photos in order to be able to view/share them on-line and also to have them backed up. In April of this year, a hard drive in my laptop was running low on space so I decided to use the Dropbox’s Selective Sync feature to unsync some large directories from the laptop. ... I opened the Selective Sync dialog, unchecked directories called 2003, 2004, …, 2014 from the Photos folder ... After that, the Dropbox client froze and didn't show any sign of life for a couple of minutes, so I decided to kill it and restart it again. ... I thought, and unsynced them one by one instead. Everything worked well, the directories disappeared from the local hard drive, but they were still available on Dropbox’s website. ... I was looking for an old presentation but couldn't find it. The directory was there but it was empty. ... I contacted Dropbox support which then broke the news to me: there was a delete event of 8343 files ... I realised most of the missing files were my photos! All the directories were still in place but many of them were empty, as if Dropbox randomly deleted some files and left some others intact. I was devastated. All those memories and the effort with collecting and organizing the photos…. gone."

The blog post has all the correspondence with Dropbox as well.

So there was a bug in the software. But also, this user kept all his photos in one place only. Since this is not what a backup means (backup is storing things in several places) it seams that the user gradually developed a trusting relationship with the online cloud storage and depended on the service's backup. Unfortunately ...

There are many other such stories online:

and the list could go on.

Depending on and trusting just one service is a spell for disaster. And Dropbox hasn't got the best PR in the last few years! E.g.  Dropbox Security Bug Made Passwords Optional For Four Hours, Trusting the cloud storage - (Drop)Box breaking the confidentiality, etc.

Don't get me wrong here. I use Dropbox daily and have plenty of files there which would mean a disaster to loose. The point here is that we should have other backup options in place. If one fails the other can be of a relief!

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Trevor on :

What do you think about the 3rd party app marketplace on the DropBox platform for helping with specific gaps in the DropBox design?

e.g. - we have released an app to securitize DropBox file sharing we call IronBox Express (free for now). https://app.ironboxexpress.com?r=tvw187

It seems like the 3rd party market is ready and willing to jump in and fix most anything, but I'm having trouble finding a complete list of what's out there.

mkljun on :

Hi Trevor,

I like the idea about 3rd part apps. But there are a few concerns and thoughts:

- The post is not about what's missing in Dropbox; rather the post is about the bug in the particular version of Dropbox itself that no 3rd party app could fix.

- You claim that your app adds security to Dropbox but the page doesn't seem to explain what the added security is; to me this is the crucial bit. Dropbox communicates over ssl and all transfers are already secure.

- Notifications if others open shared files and the possibility to customise ui it's not security.

- Trusting Dropbox alone is a challange as personal information is a valuable resource. Add 3rd party apps and you have to trust them as well. If base services can't (sometimes) provide CIA (confidentiality, integrity and availability) other apps could make things worse.

- If you needed a free add you could send me an email with a request :).

lp mk

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