Issues with .MOV video files and camera uploads from macOS devices

We recently discovered an issue between Apple iOS 11 and the Dropbox desktop app running on Mac computers. This issue may have caused the corruption of some .MOV videos added to Dropbox using the desktop camera uploads feature. The issue only affects a small, specific set of users. In these very limited cases, the issue may lead to unusable videos hosted on Dropbox.

This article outlines who may have been affected by this issue. If your account was affected, this article also details what you can do next.

Important notes:

  • The data corruption may appear at any point within a video file. Because of this, the thumbnail or beginning of a corrupted video may work fine, and mistakenly give the impression that there are no issues with the file. You should view the entire .MOV video file before deciding if it’s corrupted or not.
  • We recommend that you not delete any .MOV files shot on an iOS 11 device until you confirm they're correctly imported to Dropbox. If you delete files from your iOS device before you confirm they’re imported to Dropbox, they may be unrecoverable.

Who's affected by this issue?

This incompatibility affects only a very specific set of users on iOS 11 who imported .MOV files to Dropbox in a very specific way on a Mac computer.

You may have been affected by this issue if all of the following are true:

  • The video was shot on an Apple mobile device running iOS 11
  • The video was created on or after September 19, 2017 (or earlier, if you participate in the iOS beta program)
  • The .MOV video file was saved in the new HEVC file format
  • You use the Dropbox desktop app (version 37.4.28 or older) on a Mac computer
  • You imported the file to Dropbox on that computer using the desktop camera uploads feature
  • You imported the file by connecting your iOS device directly to your computer

Each of these points must be true for you to have been possibly affected by this issue. If even one of these points are false, then you shouldn't be affected by the issue.

Important notes:

  • You shouldn't be affected by this issue if you imported HEVC .MOV videos from a mobile device to Dropbox via the mobile app
  • You'll only be affected by this issue if you connected your iOS 11 device directly to your Mac computer, and then imported HEVC .MOV videos to Dropbox with camera uploads
  • This issue only affects HEVC .MOV files, not photos or other image file types

Learn more about the new HEVC file formats on Apple iOS devices.

How will I know I'm affected by this issue?

First, be sure that you've read the section above. It details the specific set of criteria that must all be true for you to have possibly been affected by this issue. If any of those six criteria are false, then you're likely not affected.

If you are affected, you'll notice by checking the .MOV video files that you imported to Dropbox by connecting your iOS device to your computer. Specifically, you may see one of the following two behaviors:

  • Your .MOV videos are incomplete
  • Your videos are unplayable or fail to open altogether

Important note:

The data corruption may appear at any point within a video file. Because of this, the thumbnail or beginning of a corrupted video may work fine, and mistakenly give the impression that there are no issues with the file. You should view the entire .MOV video file before deciding if it’s corrupted or not.

I'm affected by this issue. What should I do?

If you're affected by this issue, you'll need to do two things:

  1. Update to the latest version of the Dropbox desktop app (37.4.29+) on your Mac computer—we resolved this issue in the latest version of our desktop app
  2. Once you’re running the latest version of the Dropbox desktop app, reconnect the original device you used for camera uploads. Next, open the Photos app on your Mac computer, and import the files from your iOS device to Photos. To finish, manually drag-and-drop the .MOV video files from your device’s folder to your Dropbox folder

The latest version of the Dropbox desktop app (37.4.29+) will also fix this issue for future .MOV video file imports.

Important notes:

  • You must update to the latest version of the Dropbox desktop app (37.4.29+) before trying to upload .MOV files again
  • We recommend that you not delete any files from your device until you confirm they're correctly imported to Dropbox
  • If you renamed the files or moved them out of the Camera uploads folder after the initial import, the re-import may create a second set of files (you'll see both the new versions and the incomplete or unusable versions)
    • You can manually delete the incomplete or unusable versions from Dropbox

What if I already deleted the incomplete or unusable files from my device?

If you already deleted the files that were affected by this issue, we may not be able to recover them for you. Please contact us as soon as possible so that we can investigate further.

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