Dropbox FAQ: Deleting Dropbox files

I’ve started publishing some excerpts from my new Dropbox guide. Many people have begun to suppose the book is like Dropbox for Dummies (it’s not the same!)

Anyway, back to the book. During the course of researching the book, I made an interesting discovery: Deleting Dropbox — I mean really wiping out the account and all of the files everywhere — is a major pain.

Facebook and other services get flak for making account deletion difficult. The usual methods:

  • Hiding the option deep in the settings panel
  • Not completely deleting the account (“in case you change your mind”)
  • Requiring multiple steps (“are you sure?”)

But Facebook has nothing on Dropbox. Not only is there is no single “delete Dropbox” button to press, the ways that most people might think are sufficient (closing the account on the Dropbox website, deleting the Dropbox app on the computer) leave files and folders perfectly intact. I learned this myself when I deleted the app on one of my computers. I didn’t expect it to have any effect on the master Dropbox account, but I at least thought the files on the PC would be trashed along with the app. I was wrong.

Deleting Dropbox files: Multiple steps required

Dropbox android
Deleting Dropbox files can be done on a mobile device

As for the question, “How do I delete Dropbox“, be prepared to spend some time chasing down and wiping all of the files on various PCs and devices before going to the Dropbox website to take an additional step. It may be inconvenient, but if you want to make sure everything is gone, a little pain is required.

Note also that Dropbox sometimes changes the way stored files are handled or backed up. In addition, the service has paid tiers which offer more control over storage management. These topics go beyond the scope of this post, but you can find out more about paid features on the Dropbox website.

 

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