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Dropbox automatic backup is misleading and dangerous

Dropbox automatic backup is misleading and dangerous

New member | Level 2

I've loved Dropbox for years and the idea of making a folder other than the main Dropbox folder (e.g. Documents on macOS) available across my devices via automatic backup was really appealing. There was no indication however in the Desktop App that what Dropbox is actually doing moving files into the Dropbox folder and creating file aliases. While this is convenient its a potentially destructive operation. If other software expects to deal with files rather than symlinks, many things break without the user knowing why. While I understand this information is available in the forums, it needs to be indicated in the app itself

 

As a user who does a fair bit of software development, Dropbox backup broke my Python installation(s) (all virtual environments, command line programs, utilities, conda installation etc). Many of my version control tools (e.g. git) fail to work properly now as well. Suffice to say this has been an incredibly frustrating experience and further screws up other backup software, e.g. triggers massive rewrites in Time Machine, making rolling back difficult. 

 

I have disabled automatic backups and I no longer see a Documents Folder inside Dropbox, but how can I be absolutely sure that the aliases created by Dropbox no longer exist and the original files are in their original locations? Many of them seem to be (e.g. checking via the command line), but it's impractical to check everything. It's also ridiculous to expect users to manually move files back to their original locations, given theres no indication they were being moved in the first place (e.g. this suggested answer) especially if backing up an entire Documents folder often containing many deeply nested directories and hundreds of thousands of files. Is there any tool that Dropbox provides/suggests to ensure all backed-up files are resolved to their original locations and symlinks removed? Also why is Dropbox continuing to sync hundreds of thousands of files in the background despite backup being turned off? Is this a delete operation on Dropbox's servers or is the application attempting to "put files back" where they belong?

 

1 Reply 1

Re: Dropbox automatic backup is misleading and dangerous

Collaborator | Level 8

I've dealt with back-ups messing around with computers before, but never to this level. That's incredibly dangerous, especially that it doesn't have any warnings of how it actually behaves. Most people will probably think it is an average and normal backup system to a flash drive and such, only to wonder why everything seems to be broken.

 

I'm so sorry that happened man. I agree completely.

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