Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead
— Benjamin Franklin
This morning, I was asked about some files that I had been asked to placed in Dropbox. I knew I had sent them already, so I told the person to look in her folder (we have shared folders set up to make it easier to “sneaker-net” either large files or multiple files more easily. She did, and replied “they’re not there. There’s nothing there”.
I went into my folder. Maybe, for some strange, unforeseen reason I had put them there instead (I knew I hadn’t, but figured I’d check anyway).
Nothing there, either.
Panic. How could–? When–? Who could–? Then I remembered seeing pop-up notices that files had been deleted yesterday. I just chalked it up to her removing the files I had sent and storing them locally. How did they just disappear? Did someone delete them? And why?
I was ticked off. And determined to figure out how this happened and who perpetrated such a thing.
I went online and logged in to Dropbox. Surely there had to be a way to see who had accessed the folders recently. If there wasn’t, an immediate password change would ensue. Either I was getting to the bottom of this, or I was locking things up. Fast.
I looked in the Dropbox menu for the shared folders and realized a couple of things. First, neither I or my coworker was the owner of our respective shared folder (never realized I wasn’t the folder creator, since it had my name on it). Second, one of the folders had an additional person set up to have access.
Turns out the owner/creator of the folders– according to the trail provided by Dropbox– had gone and deleted the contents of the folders. Now, I understand that, as a folder admin, the contents were counting against their storage space, and maybe they needed it for some purpose. That’s fine. My issue was in not being told they were deleting the contents.
Thankfully, Dropbox allows you to recover deleted files within 30 days (I didn’t know how initially, but Dropbox has a nice FAQ– win!) , so I was able to restore everything. In the process, I created new share folders, and I assigned limited user access.
My takeaway? An obvious one, but one I had not had the presence of mind to remember in this context– always be aware of who you’re sharing content with. And, from time to time, it’s not a bad idea to review who has access to what. Especially when it comes to online content, whether you generate it in the form of Facebook status updates, tweets, blog posts and comments, or files stored online.