Original objective seemed trivial. Wanted to download a copy of my old files from the Dropbox cloud down to a different computer. After several attempts and a lot of time, I was unable to do that from the browser. (That included posting here. No useful answer but much lower expectations now.) So I finally gave up on that approach and downloaded the standalone version. That worked as I remembered it, allowing me to copy the files out of the Dropbox directory.
Having accomplished my objective, I decided to uninstall Dropbox. No error messages during installation or uninstallation. However, after it was uninstalled I discovered that my computer was extremely seriously messed up. Now the Documents folder has been moved down into a subdirectory of Dropbox. The new directory structure looks like this:
file:///C:/Users/<my user name>/Dropbox/My%20PC%20(<my computer id>)/Documents/TargetDays.html
That "Dropbox" in the middle is screwing everything up. Massively. Apparently this was created in the installation process and left behind after it was uninstalled. I want to use much stronger language, but what I can definitely say is that I will NEVER trust Dropbox again. I have a couple of theories about what went wrong, but I don't care much about figuring out such incompetence.
Apparently this was created in the installation process ... but I don't care much about figuring out such incompetence.
You enabled the computer backup feature during the installation process. Reinstall Dropbox, allow everything to sync, then go into Dropbox Options and you can disable the feature.
My goodness, that is a gawdawful solution and I certainly had no intention of creating such a gawdawful mess. I never would have enabled such a feature on a computer with such a large disk capacity and there should have been a sanity check warning me not to do it. Did your marketing geniuses think this would encourage some people to sign up after the suckers were trapped? With hindsight it does explain some of the peculiarities I noticed at the time, but it actually makes my opinion of Dropbox worse, so I cannot count it as a good solution. I actually think the idea was sort of good, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions, eh?
I'm actually afraid to try to fix it that way. The closest thing to a proper solution would be a specialized tool to fix the broken state you created, but I guess I have no free choice but to try to do it your way. It would take too long to try to figure out what else you mangled without asking me...
The installer itself was hidden by the restructured file system, making it that much harder to attempt to fix the horrendous mess. How can my opinion of Dropbox become worse? Only if my next attempts to fix the mess make it worse. Knocking on wood. HARD.
Hi @shanen0, thanks for messaging the Community!
We appreciate the feedback about the automatic computer update.
As @Rich said, that is one way to disable it, another would be to remove the device from the devices page on your account, if you don’t have the app installed.
Once it’s disabled, you can move the folders back to their original location.
If you require any further assistance, please let me know!
Still trying to come up with a constructive solution to the destruction Dropbox caused. The root of the problem is absolutely clear at this point. Uninstall FAILED. After a program is uninstalled, the computer should be back in the original state. It is NOT and therefore I am suggesting two things: (1) Uninstall should be fixed so that the computer is restored to its original state, and (2) Broken computers should be fixed, perhaps with a standalone tool that knows how to undo the changes.
Let me try to clarify the situation as I understand it now. The backup option changes the structure of the directories. Uninstall does NOT undo those changes. I do not fully understand the changes, but a new level of "Dropbox" has definitely been inserted in some places and the machine is broken. Some links within the machine no longer link.
Another aspect of causing the problem is the installation process. Since installation used the wrong language and gave me no option to pick the correct language, then that can be seen as another cause of the problem. However, after going through the entire install-and-uninstall cycle a second time I can say that I did NOT find how how to prevent the backup from starting and I was unable to turn off the backup once it was installed. I was looking QUITE carefully this time around and still FAILED to fix the problems. I finally did find the Backup tab, but it was cunningly hidden and even having found it, I was unable to fix the mess Dropbox had made.
From a higher level perspective, I think the vision is broken. Or maybe it's a conflicting vision? I would like to find a "global" file system for all of my files from various computers (spanning decades). However that global system should not break the world and rupture the universe. The main thing it should do is track the provenance of files and consolidate the copies. So maybe the real problem is that the business model of Dropbox is to sell LOTS of storage, so they have gone this route of replicating everything? I don't need more copies of everything, but rather one reliable copy of each thing and various views to finding that thing. Sometimes I might need to find it in terms of the computer it originated on, but most of the time my search needs are different, usually semantic. I want to find a file because it has some semantic relationship to other files...
Is there a conclusion? Not really, but there is an emotional state and it is NOT positive NOR constructive. Dropbox has surely wasted many hours of my time for whatever reasons.
Gosh, but that's a terrible attempt at a "solution". Do you have any idea how complicated file systems have become? You really should. It's kind of important to the business of Dropbox.
I do not know what changes your Dropbox installer made in the file system of this computer. Even if I knew exactly what the original structure was (and I only have vague ideas there), then it would take lots of searching to find all the contingent and symbolic links. Obviously the Dropbox installer managed to mangle things intelligently enough that the machine is still bootable, but the Dropbox uninstaller did NOT manage to unmangle the mess. Your advice comes down to "Fix it yourself", which is.... Words fail me.
So now you tell me to put things back the way they were? That's some gall you got there.
Once the computer backup feature has been disabled, the folders in the Dropbox folder would become normal folders and won't be synced with Dropbox any longer.
As per the article @Rich attached, you can move your files back to their original locations if you no longer want the previous files backed up to Dropbox.
By the way, the proposed solution became even worse than I thought it was. Discovered another program that was spawning new folders in the original place, so now it becomes necessary to reconcile versions between two subdirectories and I need to know how the OTHER program handles the file system.
Who had the idea of reorganizing our computers file systems for the convenience of Dropbox? NOT a good idea.
So now I have to retract my suggestion for a recovery utility. Too likely that it would make the bad situation worse. This also undoes my "simpler" suggestion of making sure the uninstall leaves the computer in the original condition. That condition can no longer be guaranteed because other programs may have interfered.
Please DO NOT CHANGE THE FILE SYSTEMS on OUR computers for the convenience of Dropbox. This is SO much worse than I thought it was at first. The word "Please" fails me.
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