Enlarge / You thought you deleted it.

But it came back—and it wouldn’t die. (credit: Gage Skidmore)
Bug-fixing is often a thankless task in the software world.

But when a bug is fixed in a way that users don’t expect, it can cause confusion—or even a user revolt.

That’s what Dropbox faced over the past few days when the company killed a bug that affected files stored with its service as far back as five years ago.
Some users of Dropbox’s cloud file storage service were alarmed late last week when long-ago deleted files and folders mysteriously re-appeared in their synchronized file stores.

The re-appearance of files long past Dropbox’s advertised retention period alarmed some users who were concerned that Dropbox was retaining their data or that the service had somehow been hacked.

But the actual cause was a bug in the service causing files to be placed in quarantine rather than being purged.
Dropbox retains files in case of accidental deletion for 30 days for basic users and “pro” accounts as well—even longer (up to a year) for pro accounts that have signed up for Dropbox’s Extended Version History.

Dropbox Business never deletes files from its backups unless they’re permanently deleted by the user.

But the files re-appearing this week were much older, several years old in many cases. One user reported files deleted five years ago re-appearing.
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