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Recently changed .... wait, these files are not in my Dropbox folder. What is Dropbox doing outside authorized areas?

Recently changed .... wait, these files are not in my Dropbox folder. What is Dropbox doing outside authorized areas?

Josep M F.
New member | Level 1

I'm not going to go on a rant about how Dropbox performance is deteriorating as I update the operating system in my Mac. I started experiencing problems when I updated to Mavericks and things have not improved with Yosemite. The Dropbox icon is constantly signalling that Dropbox is syncing and this process can go on for hours and hours. It stops for a while and then it starts all over again. Sometimes my computer stalls and I cannot do anything with it. Dropbox is taking 120% of my CPU. I don't know what is going on but something is seriously wrong. When I look for information on the internet I see people have been experiencing similar problems since 2012.

But this is not the bug/problem I want to report and ask for help with. Seeing that Dropbox is constantly syncing I decided to check what specific files were being synced because I had no memory of having changed so many files in any of my computers. To my surprise, I'm seeing that a lot of the files that appear in the list of 'recently changed' files are files that are outside the Dropbox folder. There are no symbolic links of any kind and I'm not using any extension to sync folders outside Dropbox. I don't know what to think about this and I'm not sure what the causes for this strange behaviour are but this looks like a potentially

HIGH SECURITY RISK that Dropbox (and all of you Dropbox users) should really look into

What is Dropbox doing rummaging through my entire hard disk? Where is all that information that is being (or can be) collected going? Is Dropbox just doing the work of the NSA. I have in principle nothing to fear from these agencies because I still believe that they are more the good guys than the bad guys and they are doing whatever they are doing to protect us but still ... I don't have any assurance that it is indeed the NSA collecting data and I'm not going to be harmed in anyway. I don't know where that data is going and what they are going to do with it. So I'm a little concerned and I'm definitely becoming a bit less enthusiastic about Dropbox.

If there is somebody from Dropbox watching this, please contact me. I will be happy to assist in any way I can if this turns out to be just an innocent technical problem or bug.

If I cannot find an explanation or a solution to this problem from Dropbox, I plan to make this problem known to as many people as possible via social media, etc. I think this is potentially a rather serious problem.

JM

1 Accepted Solution

Accepted Solutions

Re: Recently changed .... wait, these files are not in my Dropbox folder. What is Dropbox doing outside authorized areas?

Merel W.
New member | Level 1

I contacted the help desk for this problem, they send me the following that eventually solved the problem: 

 

I've taken a look at your account, and it appears that you have some folders that have been symlinked to your Dropbox. Symbolic links, Junction Points, or "symlinks", occur when folders are added to Dropbox that reference directories outside of the Dropbox folder or inside of the Dropbox folder but in a different folder. Because these symlinks may reference locations where Dropbox may have limited accessibility, they can cause various issues. High CPU usage, poor syncing performance, permissions issues and quota usage disparities are a few of the problems that often come up when symlinks are added to the Dropbox folder.

The problem you described may be related to these symlinks in your Dropbox folder. I'd like you to run the following command to determine if there are any symlinks in your account:

1) Open your Terminal app (Located at /Applications/Utilities/Terminal). You can also search for "Terminal" using the magnifying glass at the top of your screen.

2) Copy and paste the following line into the Terminal:

find ~/Dropbox -type l -exec ls -lah {} \;

This should give you a list of symlinks in your Dropbox folder and where they point to. The list the command provides shows you the full file path to every symlink in your account.

We recommend that you remove these symlinks from your Dropbox account. You can do that by following the file paths that are provided when you run the command, and remove the files in your Dropbox folder by dragging them elsewhere on your computer (if you don't want them deleted). After you've removed all of the symlinks you can identify from the Terminal command, please quit Terminal, open it again, and run the command again to ensure that no symlinks remain in your Dropbox folder.

In general, we recommend users move the actual folders into the Dropbox folder and then symlink back to the original locations. Please just keep in mind that we don't generally support the use of symlinks due to the issues that can arise when they are added to Dropbox.

After you remove the symlinks, it can take some time for syncing to get back to normal. I recommend restarting your computer and then checking on the status of Dropbox. Please give the application some time to re-index and begin the sync process again.

 

Hope this helps others too! 

 

[This thread is now closed by moderators due to inactivity. If you're experiencing a similar behavior, feel free to start a new discussion in the Ask a Question section here.]

View solution in original post

7 Replies 7

Re: Recently changed .... wait, these files are not in my Dropbox folder. What is Dropbox doing outside authorized areas?

Linda K.
New member | Level 1

I think it's related to Explorer extension somehow.

Re: Recently changed .... wait, these files are not in my Dropbox folder. What is Dropbox doing outside authorized areas?

Josep M F.
New member | Level 1

Thanks Linda. The problem is that I am not aware of having installed this extension. There is something really odd in all this. I don't really know whether the problem has to do with the Dropbox software itself or with some interaction with other software I have installed on my computer but having Dropbox report on changes in files that are outside the Dropbox folder is indeed worrisome.

Re: Recently changed .... wait, these files are not in my Dropbox folder. What is Dropbox doing outside authorized areas?

Richard L.19
New member | Level 2

I am seeing the same behavior - the Recently Changed list shows over 1000 files being synced that mostly are in the Applications folder, which is NOT within my Dropbox folder. As expected, these files do NOT show up in my Dropbox, either on my Mac or through the browser view of what's stored in Dropbox... I have observed that some files in Dropbox are "packages", and the individual files within the package show in the Recent list, bit some files I'm seeing are within my Microsoft Office installation and there is no package file for Office in Dropbox. I'm trying to debug high data usage on my ISP connection and this looks suspicious.

Re: Recently changed .... wait, these files are not in my Dropbox folder. What is Dropbox doing outside authorized areas?

Merel W.
New member | Level 1

I have the same thing, Dropbox is somehow syncing all my Adobe Patchfiles to somewhere? Has there been an answer from Dropbox on this issue?

Re: Recently changed .... wait, these files are not in my Dropbox folder. What is Dropbox doing outside authorized areas?

Mark K.19
New member | Level 2

For me it seemed to be a bunch of files from my Application folder; like Richard L. mentioned. I had copied a folder to dropbox that was an application folder. You know how some applications unzip to an app icon and then a folder that says "PutInApplications". Well that is a link to the Applications folder. Apparently as soon as I placed that PutInApplications file/alias onto dropbox it started copying my ENTIRE Applications folder to Dropbox. I'm cleaning up the mess now. You should look for the same issue.

Re: Recently changed .... wait, these files are not in my Dropbox folder. What is Dropbox doing outside authorized areas?

Steven H.23
New member | Level 1

Dropbox just alerted me that over 2000 of my files just changed!... I'm panicking, since I didn't do it.  How do I see what just changed?

Re: Recently changed .... wait, these files are not in my Dropbox folder. What is Dropbox doing outside authorized areas?

Merel W.
New member | Level 1

I contacted the help desk for this problem, they send me the following that eventually solved the problem: 

 

I've taken a look at your account, and it appears that you have some folders that have been symlinked to your Dropbox. Symbolic links, Junction Points, or "symlinks", occur when folders are added to Dropbox that reference directories outside of the Dropbox folder or inside of the Dropbox folder but in a different folder. Because these symlinks may reference locations where Dropbox may have limited accessibility, they can cause various issues. High CPU usage, poor syncing performance, permissions issues and quota usage disparities are a few of the problems that often come up when symlinks are added to the Dropbox folder.

The problem you described may be related to these symlinks in your Dropbox folder. I'd like you to run the following command to determine if there are any symlinks in your account:

1) Open your Terminal app (Located at /Applications/Utilities/Terminal). You can also search for "Terminal" using the magnifying glass at the top of your screen.

2) Copy and paste the following line into the Terminal:

find ~/Dropbox -type l -exec ls -lah {} \;

This should give you a list of symlinks in your Dropbox folder and where they point to. The list the command provides shows you the full file path to every symlink in your account.

We recommend that you remove these symlinks from your Dropbox account. You can do that by following the file paths that are provided when you run the command, and remove the files in your Dropbox folder by dragging them elsewhere on your computer (if you don't want them deleted). After you've removed all of the symlinks you can identify from the Terminal command, please quit Terminal, open it again, and run the command again to ensure that no symlinks remain in your Dropbox folder.

In general, we recommend users move the actual folders into the Dropbox folder and then symlink back to the original locations. Please just keep in mind that we don't generally support the use of symlinks due to the issues that can arise when they are added to Dropbox.

After you remove the symlinks, it can take some time for syncing to get back to normal. I recommend restarting your computer and then checking on the status of Dropbox. Please give the application some time to re-index and begin the sync process again.

 

Hope this helps others too! 

 

[This thread is now closed by moderators due to inactivity. If you're experiencing a similar behavior, feel free to start a new discussion in the Ask a Question section here.]

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    Merel W. New member | Level 1
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    Steven H.23 New member | Level 1
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    Richard L.19 New member | Level 2
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