Dropbox Selective Sync confirmed to have selective amnesia

JC Torres - Oct 13, 2014
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Dropbox Selective Sync confirmed to have selective amnesia

With all the hoopla around cloud services, their leaks, and their security holes, one name has managed to remain out of the media's spotlight. At least so far. It would, however, be naive to presume that Dropbox is infallible and perfect just because of that. In fact, this latest revelation just proves that it isn't immune from bugs that would irreversibly lose data as well. Luckily, at least if you believe the company, it only affects a rather small subset of Dropbox users.

That subset of users are the ones that use Dropbox's Selective Sync feature. For casual Dropbox users, that feature need not even matter, but for those who upload gigabytes of data into Dropbox, it is a disk space saver. Selective Sync is a desktop client-side feature that lets users choose which Dropbox folders get synced on the desktop, leaving only those essential files to be copied to and fro while bulkier ones do not get downloaded at all.

The problem is that the feature relies on the Dropbox desktop client, and desktop clients tend to get really buggy when left to stagnate. In fact, the specific problem has to do with older and unmaintained version of the desktop client when Selective Sync is enabled. To be even more precise, it seems to have only happened to users of older Dropbox desktop clients whose Dropbox shutdown, restarted, or crashed while they were still in the middle of applying Selective Sync. As mentioned, it's a very small case where a specific set of circumstances were needed to trigger the undesirable effect. Sadly, though, a small percentage is still a percentage and affected users saw some of their files vanish without reason.

The slightly good news is that Dropbox is aware of it and has, somewhat silently, contacted possible victims of this bug and, luckily, Dropbox's backups might have the missing files stowed away for safe keeping. Dropbox has also patched up the bug and also removed stale versions of the Dropbox client from the Internet to at least ensure no one else will install them. Though this incident might be less scandalous than certain cloud intrusions or less destructive than some, it should still be a wakeup call for users not to solely rely on clouds for their final backups.

VIA: Hacker News