The “Drop” in Dropbox Is Real

Dropbox lived up to its name — “dropping” and accidentally deleting some user files. Apparently, a malfunction in Dropbox Selective Sync feature was the culprit, says CNET.


15 October 2014

The “Drop” in Dropbox Is Real

Dropbox lived up to its name — “dropping” and accidentally deleting some user files. Apparently, a malfunction in the Dropbox Selective Sync feature was the culprit, says CNET.

Selective Sync allows users to pick which particular folders to synchronize to their computers. However, in some cases, a bug in older versions of the system caused the Dropbox desktop application to shut down or restart while applying the Selective Sync settings. This caused file deletion — yes, the service eliminated content it was supposed to back up and protect.

In damage control mode, Dropbox claims to be patching its desktop client and restoring any lost files, says Endgadget. It’s even offering the affected users a free year of service. Hopefully, Dropbox can restore those files. A business that promises to securely store and sync your data and content and fails to do so is violating a basic tenet of trust — something essential between client and provider.

Consumers: Go to the School of Enterprise

I want to point out that, today, consumers don’t have to settle for second-best when it comes to file-sharing apps. They can use providers that offer security, availability, and processes that are enterprise-strength. The largest corporations have demonstrated just what an application should provide, whether or not we access it internally or via the cloud.

As much of our work (and even personal lives) is in the cloud, we must demand the following capabilities and features from our file sync and share (FSS) and data storage services:

  • Data backup and delete: A data and content sharing application should have basic safeguards ensuring that any accidentally deleted file is recoverable. And, by the same token, a user who wants to permanently destroy a file should be able to do it with ease. (Remember the Snapchat vulnerability, where millions of end user phone numbers were first exposed, then stored in search engine caches and mirror servers? You can read about it here.)
  • Security and data privacy: No one should be able to read or access your files unless you consent to it. This means hardened security all around. Make sure files are encrypted in storage, and when they travel from place to place (for example, during file synchronization between devices).
  • Ease of use and adoption: It goes without saying that top-notch security, access-rights management, and the other enterprise features should be consumer friendly. Securing the data should be under the hood — you don’t want to trap the data in an impossible-to-navigate system.
  • Absolute user ownership of files: You should always remain the complete owner of the access privileges to your files. The cloud provider should not be considered the proprietor of your files, and shouldn't have default rights to your data without your consent. Ever. (To find out about the legal ownership of the data, read the provider’s terms of use.)

Remember: When it comes to sharing and storing files, there are lots of choices. And choice is always a wonderful thing for the customer.



Marc Songini

Marc Songini

Marc Songini has worked in the information technology field for more than 16 years. His roles have included those of journalist, analyst, and marketing communications specialist. He admits that when he started out as a cub high tech reporter, Netscape was still rocking the industry with a wondrous new user interface called a “browser.” During his 10 years with International Data Group (IDG), Marc wrote for NetworkWorld and Computerworld, both award-winning magazines. Marc specializes in cloud, enterprise apps, and figuring out the meaning of being human in an automated world.