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Recovering Lost or Deleted Data from Dropbox

Recovering data that has been lost or deleted from your desktop or laptop PC is a pretty straightforward process. More often than not, files that have been accidentally deleted can be found in the Recycling Bin on your desktop. Even if they aren't in the Recycle Bin, most files can be recovered using any number of software utilities. When storing files on the cloud-oriented service, Dropbox, the process of recovering data is slightly different. However, this doesn't mean that it's necessarily difficult.

How Dropbox Handles Deleted Files

It's important to understand exactly how Dropbox handles deleted files before attempting a recovery. As mentioned, most operating systems use a Recycling Bin, or something similar, to store deleted files. Dropbox, on the other hand, doesn't actually delete any files at all. Instead, they simply mark such files as invisible. While this may seem counterintuitive, it actually makes the process of recovering your deleted files rather easy.

Beginning the Recovery Process

To begin the recovery process, simply click on the trashcan icon, which appears in the upper right-hand corner of the Dropbox interface. Clicking the icon to make it active will effectively allow you to view any files that have been deleted from your Dropbox storage. You can also access the "show deleted files" option by clicking the right mouse button.

Once the icon has been made active, you should see your deleted files listed in grey. From here, simply click on the file you wish to recover and click "Restore." You can also choose to permanently deleted files, thereby making them inaccessible in the future. Dropbox also gives you the option of viewing past versions of a file, if available.

After clicking "Restore" on a deleted file, Dropbox will ask you to confirm your decision through a pop-up box. Clicking the "Restore" button here will instantaneously restore your access to the file, which should now appear in the same black text as your other files. If you've clicked on the wrong file by mistake, simply click "Cancel" at this prompt to back out and begin the process anew.

Keep in mind that the typical Dropbox service only keeps your deleted files for a period of 30 days. However, it will keep unlimited copies, or previous versions, of each and every file. Users who want to increase this timeframe can do so by subscribing to Dropbox's Extended Version History feature, which is available as an add-on service for Dropbox Pro and Dropbox Education accounts. Basic Dropbox accounts are currently not eligible for the Extended Version History add-on.

Making the Most of Your Dropbox Account

As you can see, Dropbox makes it relatively easy to recover files that have been deleted, either accidently or purposely, within the past 30 days. While this certainly isn't a foolproof option, their timeline is hopefully long enough for most users to realize their mistakes and initiate a recovery. To find out more information about Dropbox, including details on their free and paid services, please visit their official website at


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