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What happens when I delete a file?

Deleting files in your Dropbox

When you delete a file from your Dropbox it is removed from your visible folder structure (the folders you see in your Dropbox). However, the file is not yet permanently deleted. Rather, it's moved into a queue for permanent deletion (see below for info specific to your account type). This queuing enables features like file recovery and version history. Depending on what type of Dropbox account you have, file recovery and version history differs:

  • For most Basic and Pro users, files are recoverable for 30 days.
  • For Pro subscribers with Extended Version History, files are recoverable for 1 year.
  • Dropbox Business users can recover files for the lifetime of their accounts.

Permanent deletions

You can permanently delete a file yourself to skip the above queuing process. Permanent deletion of a file will not allow you or Dropbox to restore these files at a later date. This applies to manually permanently deleting a file, as well as a file exceeding the recovery period specific to your account type. Here's what you should note about permanent deletions:

  • This action will begin a permanent deletion process that can take up to 60 days in the normal course of operations.
  • Permanently deleting a file means that you will not be able to recover it.

What happens when I delete files from a shared folder?

  • If you delete a file from a shared folder (whether you created the shared folder or joined someone else's), any member of the folder may be able to restore the file.
  • If you delete a shared folder from your Dropbox, you are leaving the folder, not deleting it for everyone else. This means that the shared folder and the files in it will remain available to the other members it was shared with. You also have the ability to rejoin the folder.
  • To completely delete a shared folder and its files from all members of the shared folder, you will first need to unshare the shared folder.

Dropbox Business Administrators

When you remove a team member using the Delete User function, the non-shared files are still associated with the disabled account. The files will not be permanently deleted until you take further action.

You will have the option to Transfer files or Permanently delete files when you are removing the member's account using the Manage files feature:

  1. Click Manage files
  2. Select the file
  3. Click Permanently delete
  • Note: If you choose to Permanently delete a team member's files, the deletion process can take up to 60 days in the normal course of operations.
  • Note: You can view a list of disabled accounts in the Admin console. Just select Members from the left side bar, and then select "Deleted" in the Show dropdown.

Data destruction mechanisms

Dropbox uses a secure deletion process to delete data from our servers. Additionally, when a Dropbox storage disk has reached the end of its useful life or is damaged, we follow a decommissioning process that is designed to physically destroy the disk to the point data cannot be recovered. Our third-party service providers also follow secure destruction processes for media they control.