A bug within Dropbox feature Selective Sync has deleted some user files, the company confirmed over the weekend. Dropbox claims to have identified the problem and is offering a free year of Dropbox Pro as it tries mitigate damage to its reputation.
An email published on Engadget promises free Dropbox Pro for a year starting on Saturday, and informs affected users of a personalized web page containing information about affected files and whether Dropbox has been able to restore them.
The email also says that the issue has been fixed and that further tests are being done to prevent a repeat. That information is also included in a response from Dropbox support posted to the Hacker News.
“When we took a closer look, we discovered that older versions of the Dropbox client had introduced an issue affecting a small number of users whose Dropbox application shut down or restarted while users were applying Selective Sync settings,” the post says. “In light of all of this, we’ve taken the following steps to ensure the Selective Sync bug won’t affect anyone else going forward: 1) we’ve patched our desktop client so this issue doesn’t exist in Dropbox anymore; 2) we’ve made sure all our users are running an updated version of the Dropbox client; and 3) we’ve retired all affected versions of the Dropbox client so no one can use them.”
Dropbox users who do not use the Selective Sync feature are unaffected, and even among those who do it appears to be a small minority who have lost files.
The reputation of cloud storage as a service in general has been damaged by a news of an iCloud breach in the summer, at a time when competition has spurred low prices, which have squeezed profit margins for service providers.
While cloud storage users should know that important files should be stored in multiple locations, many rely on a single copy. This magnifies the effect of an incident like the Selective Sync bug in the same way that stolen private data magnifies the importance of encryption and security services.