Dropbox Bug?

Mar 10, 2013
UPDATE: This is an expected behavior of dropbox. See relevant discussion at Dropbox Forums.

It seems that there is a dropbox bug which may affect the recovery of deleted files and folders in this specific situation. I will try to document and elaborate my observations in this post. In short, dropbox seems to be not able to recover a deleted folder if a new file with exact same name is replaced at the exact same location as the deleted folder. I am a free user of dropbox and I am not sure whether this is one of the free features. I found this particular problem 7-8 months back & I could recover the files from my personal backup, which is separate and independent from dropbox.

Here are the steps to reproduce the results. (I did backup all the data, so nothing was lost in reality. This is just a demonstration.) Here, I am going to delete a folder named 'Image Fun' from my dropbox which has some more files and folders in it. The goal is to check, if I can recover those files and folders inside the folder Image Fun.
  1. Make sure Dropbox is running. (I am using Linux Mint 13)
  2. Delete the folder Image Fun, with some files and folders.
  3. Create a file with name Image Fun (no extensions) somewhere outside the Dropbox folder and then copy the file to the location of original Image Fun folder.
  4. Log on to dropbox.com website and hit "Show deleted files". I can not see any folder which has been deleted & has name Image Fun. Though, I can see the file I created with the exact same name (among normal files, not deleted files).
  5. Navigate to "Events" link on the left on dropbox website. This is the part where it gets interesting. I could see the notification which says that I deleted Image Fun and other 45 files in that folder. See the screenshot below. Now when I click on Image Fun, I am taken to home page where it highlighted the new Image Fun file.

  6. Clicking on "output" link in events page (output was a folder inside the delete folder) showed a message in red saying "The folder /Image Fun/output is deleted" (screenshot below).

  7. When I clicked on "45 more files" in the events page, it showed me a page where all the files were listed, but I could not click on any of them in order to recover. 

  8. But, when I clicked on link "a1.jpg" in events page (where it said "You deleted a1.jpg and 45 more files"), I was taken to a page where I can actually see the older version of that particular file - a1.jpg. Clicking on version 0 shows the correct original file. 
  9. You must have noticed the "Restore" button on a1.jpg link (above screenshot). When I clicked on it, something unexpected happened. The file which I created, with name Image Fun, was actually removed with the folder Image Fun and a1.jpg was restored in the folder. Now I could navigate to the folder and even see deleted files. This could be one way to recover the file. But I would count it as very unreliable method. It relies on finding and clicking on one particular file's deleted link and then recovering it. That particular link may actually get lost if many other files in other locations were also deleted. Events page after the recovery looks like this:

Hopefully, this will help to fix or address the issue I mentioned. It is probably an expected behavior. See relevant discussion at Dropbox Forums.