Tech tips

I started my old mac mini and it deleted 1 years worth of Dropbox files in seconds.

My dropbox got wiped by an old mac mini with an old version of dropbox. I was lucky which prevented it from being permanent. 


So tonight I started to use my old mac mini again as a desktop for light development work at home. I used to use it as my art-station and have it attached to a cintiq. When that became a little to heavy for it (streaming etc.) I parked it and started doing art on a new PC with Windows 10. Long story short. It had been collecting dust for about a year.

When I powered it up I noticed the dropbox sync starting. Which is great. I was waiting for certain files to be synced down.. But they didn’t appear. I opened the dropbox top-bar icon and saw i had only used 10% of my 1tb of space in dropbox.

So. It was deleting all the files I had created in the last year or moved.

10% Hey that’s weird.
8% OH SHIT its deleting everything.
6% Panic started happening.

5.4% My brain got to the point where I stopped syncing on the mac mini.

So painful. I had my work macbook open at the time and it had already started removing files and shares. It does not have everything on there as its a work mac. I stopped syncing there. I ran to my personal macbook. I was able to stop it syncing just in time. But it also does not have everything. Its a 256gb model so can’t contain all that awesomeness that is my digital hoarder collection.

So everything was gone or in a weird half deleted state. 15 years of artwork source/final files. Podcast source files. Keepsakes. Photos. My collection of funny reaction gifs. 3d design files. All gone


Luckily, I have a NAS. A Synology NAS. It is also syncing my dropbox. And it too was a bit light on the content. 340+GB was gone. The NAS however also has a usb drive attached. On it it backs up the entire NAS every night. I was able to recover from this by removing everything in the Dropbox website and copying my backup into a directory in my Dropbox.

A good thing to come out of it: My Dropbox is no longer a giant mess 😀

My mistakes:

1. Didn’t disconnect the network before starting the mac mini.
2. I left dropbox on the mac mini and it started syncing after login.
3. I started downloading the new dropbox version straight away an started installing it and it probably messed up the sync.

My luck:

1. I back up my NAS.
2. I check my NAS/backup situation almost daily.
3. I have a topic for the next Polymaticast!

Thing dropbox should have:

1. Mass delete/sync problem prevention/recovery. The current recover feature is horrible.
2. A restore to [date/time] point feature.

Author: John Bakker

Developer by trade , artist by night.

John Bakker

Developer by trade , artist by night.

One thought on “I started my old mac mini and it deleted 1 years worth of Dropbox files in seconds.

  • Synology Cloud Sync has a feature to only download and never throw away whatever it downloads from Dropbox/Google Drive. That’s what I configured to prevent this exact scenario (yes, it happened to me before long ago).

    You do need a hard drive big enough to store all your Dropbox files though (or an upload to S3)


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