Top 5 Ways to Recover Deleted Files from Dropbox

Avatar
Written by
305

Recover Deleted Files from Dropbox

With its 600 million users, Dropbox is one of the most popular cloud storage services in the world. Individual home users rely on it for seamless file synchronization across devices and reliable backup, while businesses enjoy its secure file-sharing and content collaboration capabilities. 

Despite its intuitive user interface, there are many Dropbox users who want to know if it’s possible to recover deleted Dropbox files that have become the victims of careless file management, malicious act, or some other cause of data loss. We can tell you right now that it’s not only possible to restore deleted Dropbox files, but there is more than one way to do it. 

Help! My Dropbox Files Are Missing! 

Have you accidentally deleted the wrong Dropbox files and are wondering how to get them back? You’re not the only one! Many users have found themselves in the same situation. Just read these pleas for help gathered from the web: 

  • I am using Dropbox on my S6 Edge but just accidentally deleted 3 photos from it. How could I recover those photos?” (Reddit)
  • Dear all, I want to recover my permanently deleted files, can you help me that how can I do this. Please give me a perfect solution.” (Dropbox Forum
  • HELP, I accidentally deleted loads of files on my mac on finder then emptied my recycle bin.. I had been shared into the folders on Dropbox containing these files and am super worried that others who are also shared into these folders may have the same files deleted! They are not important to me but are to others! I was not the original person to share these folders.” (Stack Exchange

We don’t know whether these three Dropbox users were able to successfully restore Dropbox files, but we know several Dropbox recovery methods that you can use to get your files back in no time. 

Before You Begin

Even free Dropbox users get 2 GB of storage space, which is plenty for thousands of documents or hundreds of images and audio files. What sometimes happens (especially to those who don’t spend much time or effort on file management) is that users misplace their files and assume that they are missing because they’ve been deleted. 

To rule out this possibility, you should search for your missing files on dropbox.com: 

  1. Go to: https://www.dropbox.com/login
  2. Log in with your username and password. 
  3. Click the search bar.
  4. Type the name of any of the missing files. dropbox search results
  5. Press Enter on your keyboard. 

Don’t see your missing files? In that case, they’re most likely deleted, and you need to recover them using the methods described below. 

5 Ways to Recover Deleted Dropbox Files

There are several native Dropbox undo delete solutions that you can use to get your deleted files back. If they fail, you can also explore alternative ways to recover Dropbox files, such as third-party data recovery software. 

Option 1: Deleted Files 

trash bin iconDropbox has its own implementation of the Recycle Bin (Windows) and Trash (Mac), called Deleted files, and you should visit this special folder every time you want to get back a file that’s no longer present in your Dropbox folder. 

To recover deleted files or folders in from Deleted files:

  1. Go to: https://www.dropbox.com/login
  2. Log in with your username and password. 
  3. Click Files in the sidebar on the left.dropbox files highlight
  4. Click Deleted files in the same sidebar.dropbox deleted files highlight
  5. Click the file you want to recover and choose Restore. deleted file dropbox restore

Tip: If you want to recover multiple files at the same time, click the checkbox next to each file and then select Restore on the right. 

The Deleted files page is great for recovering recently deleted files and folders, but it won’t help you get back an older version of your file. To do that, move on to the next method. 

Option 2: History

history iconImagine that you’re editing a large video file and make major changes to it. Confident with your results, you delete your backups to save precious Dropbox storage space and go to sleep. 

When you wake up the following day, you realize that the edits you made are far from great, but your backups are already gone and unrecoverable. Fortunately, Dropbox makes it possible for you to preview and restore older versions of any file with a few simple clicks thanks to a feature called Version history. 

To restore an older version of a file using Version history

  1. Go to: https://www.dropbox.com/login
  2. Log in with your username and password. 
  3. Click Files to locate the file you want to restore.dropbox files highlight
  4. Hover your mouse over the file and select the checkbox that appears to the left.
  5. Click the three dots on the right and select the Version history option.dropbox version history select
  6. Select one of the available versions.
  7. Click the Restore button to restore to an older version.dropbox restore older version

Just like that, you can undo unwanted changes and save the day. But what if you need to undo a large number of changes at once or recover after a major data loss incident, such as a ransomware infection? Dropbox has a solution to this problem too! 

Option 3: Dropbox Rewind

rewind iconCalled Dropbox Rewind, this useful recovery feature lets you restore your entire Dropbox account to an earlier state without contacting Dropbox support. 

Important: Dropbox Rewind is not available to free users. Only Dropbox Plus, Professional, and Business subscribers can use it to recover after a major data loss incident.

By using Dropbox Rewind, you will undo file edits, renames, additions, and deletions, as well as actions taken in shared folders, including those owned by other people, and actions taken in your Dropbox Business team folders.

To recover Dropbox files using Dropbox Rewind

dropbox rewind animation

  1. Go to: https://www.dropbox.com/login
  2. Log in with your username and password. 
  3. Click Rewind Dropbox on the right. If you want to recover a specific folder, open the folder and click Rewind this folder.
  4. Click Get started and pick a day right before the data loss incident occurred.
  5. Click Continue and find the earliest change from the Fine tune list you want to undo. Click the blue line below it. 
  6. Click Continue and Rewind. The process will take some time, and you’ll receive a notification email from Dropbox once it’s complete. 

You can think of Dropbox Rewind as the nuclear option for Dropbox recovery. Before you use it, we highly recommend you explore the two remaining ways to recover deleted Dropbox files. 

Option 4: Other Devices   

smartphone iconIf you use Dropbox to synchronize your files across multiple devices, you might be able to restore deleted Dropbox files from a device that hasn’t synchronized yet. 

Keep in mind that the Dropbox app on the device will automatically start synchronizing as soon as it establishes a connection with the central server, so make sure the device can’t connect to the internet before you turn it on. 

Option 5: Data Recovery Software

disk drill iconWith data recovery software, you can recover even permanently deleted Dropbox files that can’t be undeleted using the native Dropbox undo delete solutions described above. 

Solutions like Disk Drill can recover Dropbox files from all commonly used file systems and with just a few clicks. They scan your storage device, looking for traces of deleted files, and make it possible for you to retrieve all files that haven’t been overwritten. 

To restore deleted Dropbox files using Disk Drill:

  1. Download and install Disk Drill.
  2. Launch Disk Drill and scan the storage device on which your Dropbox files were stored. disk drill main screen disk select
  3. Select all files you want to recover. 
  4. Click the blue Recover button at the bottom.disk drill file select
  5. Specify the recovery folder and click OK.disk drill destination select

With these 5 steps, you should be able to recover even permanently deleted Dropbox files from any device. 

Why Are My Dropbox Files Missing? 

missing file alert

Are you wondering why your Dropbox files are missing? Let’s take a closer look at five common reasons why Dropbox users are forced to research recovery methods: 

  • Accidental deletion: You need to be careful when managing your Dropbox files because you could accidentally select the wrong file and delete it without even knowing about it. 
  • Failed synchronization: If your internet connection is spotty, you need to always double-check that all files in your Dropbox folder have synchronized properly. 
  • Unshared folder: There’s nothing you can do about another Dropbox user recalling access to a shared folder, preventing you from accessing it. 
  • Technical issues: Despite its impressive infrastructure, even Dropbox experiences technical issues from time to time, and some of them may cause synchronization issues. 
  • Software conflicts: Some software applications, such as antivirus software, may prevent Dropbox from accessing your files and synchronizing them across your devices. 

While some of these causes of Dropbox files going missing can be avoided by being more careful and taking proper measures, others cannot, which is why it’s so important to know how to recover deleted Dropbox files. 

Can I Recovery My Dropbox Files from Cache?

pen erasing data

Not many Dropbox users know that Dropbox sometimes doesn’t delete files from the hard drive as soon as you click Delete, especially when deleting a large number of files at the same time. Instead, it keeps the files in the Dropbox cache folder, where they stay for up to 3 days before they are automatically purged. Files are also kept in the cache folder for efficiency and emergency purposes. 

Here’s the location of the Dropbox cache folder on Windows, macOS, and Linux

  • Windows: %HOMEPATH%\Dropbox\.dropbox.cache
  • macOS: ~/Dropbox/.dropbox.cache
  • Linux: ~/Dropbox/.dropbox.cache/ 

If you’re wondering if it’s possible to recover deleted Dropbox files from the cache folder, we have bad news for you: it isn’t. 

Unfortunately, the files present in Dropbox cache on Windows, macOS, and Linux look nothing like the files in your Dropbox folder. That’s because they are only file fragments and not entire files. While it might be theoretically possible to extract some information from them, doing so is far beyond the skills and capabilities of the average Dropbox user. 

Related Article
(Solved) How to Recover Deleted Word Document
Fortunately, Word document recovery doesn’t have to be complicated.

Tips and Tricks for Avoiding Dropbox Data Loss

As any seasoned data recovery professional would tell you, even the most reliable data backup strategy can fail, and cloud storage solutions like Dropbox are no exception. Here are a few useful tips and tricks to help you avoid Dropbox data loss:

  • Keep your Dropbox folder organized: Staying organized is not just a good habit—it’s a highly effective way of avoiding Dropbox data loss (or any other data loss for that matter). Unless you properly sort your files into appropriate folders and give them descriptive names, it’s very likely that you’ll sooner or later delete the wrong file. 
  • Don’t use Smart SyncSmart Sync is a useful feature aimed at people with limited hard drive space. When you turn it on, the Dropbox desktop app will stop downloading files to your computer, making them online-only. However, this also means that you won’t have local copies of your files stored on your hard drive, which limits your recovery options. 
  • Have an offline backup: A proper offline backup can be an absolute lifesaver when the s**t hits the fan, and you suddenly lose access to all your Dropbox files. You should back up important files at least once a day, and it’s always a good idea to keep multiple versions so you can go back in time and undo recent edits. 

FAQ 

Avatar
David Morelo is a professional content writer in the technology niche, covering everything from consumer products to emerging technologies and their cross-industry application.
Approved by
This article has been approved by Yevgeniy Tolkunov, Hardware Engineer at ACE Data Recovery. Brett has a Master's Degree in Physics, Information Technology; 15+ years of experience.