Dropbox offers an excellent way of syncing files across computers and devices, sharing files with others and automatically backing up your photos. The more you dig into the app, the more features you uncover, and one tool you might not know about is the ability to recover deleted files.
Any file deleted in the last 30 days can be resurrected with the minimum of fuss. You can also access older versions of files you or someone else has edited if you need to. Here's how to go about it.
Head to your default Web browser and log into the Dropbox site. You should be met with your main file list, so navigate to the folder that contains the deleted data that you want to recover. If you want to recover a folder, head to the parent folder above it.
Click the trash can at the top of the screen (you'll see a bubble labelled "Show deleted files") and any files erased in the last 30 days will be shown in gray. Right-click on any file link and choose Restore to bring the data back. After a few moments, the file will begin downloading again to your synced computers and devices.
To get all of your deleted files grouped together on screen click the Kind link at the top of the file list. You can also select and restore multiple files at once by using the Shift and Ctrl keys just as you would to select multiple files in the Windows File Explorer (Shift and Cmd on a Mac). Actions taken via the right-click menu then affect all the files you've chosen.
The process for recovering versions of files is almost the same. It can prove to be particularly useful when you're working on shared folders with other people and everyone is making edits. You can see which user made the changes and on which device alongside each revision.
Right-click on a file in the Web interface (whether deleted or not) and you can select Previous versions to see all the changes that have been made over the last 30 days. Click on any of the file links and you can actual download the relevant file to your computer.
Check the radio button next to the version you'd like to use to overwrite the current one and select Restore to bring it back. There's no confirmation message so make sure you have the correct version. To quickly undo the restore, repeat the process and choose the most recent file.
If you pay for Dropbox storage rather than relying on free space and friend referrals, then you can take advantage of another feature: Packrat. This extends the recovery period indefinitely, so you can get back files beyond the 30 day limit. This can really clutter up your list of deleted files, but it might be invaluable somewhere down the line.
The Packrat option is available in your account settings if you have a Dropbox Pro account. If not, you'll need to upgrade first. Packrat will set you back $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year and is free of charge to anyone with a Dropbox for Business account.
Whether or not you use Packrat, deleted items and old versions don't count against your storage quota. It's another reason to keep every file you use in Dropbox, just in case you need to undo a mistake somewhere down the line.