How to recover lost, deleted and overwritten files on Dropbox

Recover lost files even if you don't have a backup

Have you lost files that were in the Dropbox folder on your disk? Have you accidentally deleted files or overwritten them? These quick tips show how to recover the original files on Dropbox and on disk.

Don't panic if you have lost, deleted or overwritten files on the disk or in your Dropbox folder. Here are all the ways you can recover them, even without a backup.

It is easy to assume that because you know something, that everyone else does.

Often that is not true and these tips are simple ones, but not everyone knows them. Some people might be aware of the ability to recover deleted or overwritten files on Dropbox, but not know the exact steps to do so.

When a file is deleted in the Dropbox folder on the disk drive, it is also deleted from your Dropbox online storage. If a file is overwritten on the disk, it is overwritten online too.

Both Windows and Dropbox keep track of deleted and overwritten files and save them. This means that it may be possible to recover them one way or another.

These methods are not guaranteed to work in every situation, but they do sometimes and they can rescue your files.

Check the bin

Most deleted files are moved to the Recycle Bin on Windows PCs, so this is the first place you should look for deleted and lost files. Open the Recycle Bin, set the view to Details and then click the Date Deleted column header to sort the files by date.

Check the recently deleted files for the ones you have lost. If you find them, right click them and select Restore.

It is possible to delete files without moving them to the Recycle Bin and this may have happened to your lost files.

If you cannot find them in the Recycle Bin, or if a file is not lost, but has been overwritten, you might be able to recover it on Dropbox.


Browse your files on Dropbox

Open a browser and go to the Dropbox website. Log in if necessary and find the folder that contained the files that you lost or overwrote.

At the right side of the file listing is a menu. Click Show deleted files.

Browse your files on the Dropbox website


Deleted file options on Dropbox

If files were recently deleted from this folder (in the last month), they are added to the files that are listed. In the members column it says Deleted.

Move the mouse over a deleted file and click the three dots on the right to display a menu. The file can be permanently deleted with no chance of recovery, or it can be restored. Click the Restore option.  The deleted file is put back in the folder.

Restore deleted files on Dropbox


Restore a previous version of a file

If the file you lost was not deleted, but was overwritten by a different version, or if you edited a file and want to return to an earlier version of it, find the file on the Dropbox website.

Move the mouse over it and click the three dots to display the menu. Click Version history.

View previous versions of files on Dropbox


Restore a file version

If you are lucky, there will be one or several versions of the file. Use the dates to choose the one you want and click the Restore button on the right. If you don’t see a Restore button, just move the mouse over the file.

Restore a previous version of a file on Dropbox


Restore it

The current version of the file will replaced by the one you selected and this is your last chance to change your mind. If it is what you want, click the Restore button.

Restore a file on Dropbox


More file versions versions

If you restore a previous version of a file and replace the current one, what happens to the current one? It becomes a previous version.

Before I had the current version and one previous version. Now I have the current version and two previous versions. If you change your mind, you could restore the previous version and end up back where you started!

Previous versions of a file on Dropbox


Use Windows restore

Windows does a similar thing to Dropbox and it saves previous versions of files and folders. Dropbox immediately saves overwritten and deleted files, but Windows does not. However, it might let you recover files from last week or last month.

Open and Explorer window and right click a file or folder. Here I right clicked a folder called Books. Select Restore previous versions on the menu that is displayed.

Restore previous versions of files in Windows using Explorer


Check for versions

If File History is active or if Windows has created a restore point, a list of previous versions of the folder or file is listed.

Related: Use a NAS drive with Windows 8 File History backup
Related: Recover GBs of space by cleaning up Windows File History

The folder or file can be opened as it was on the date displayed. Alternatively, it can be restored.

Windows previous versions of a folder


Restore a previous version of a file

Click the arrow next to the Restore button for a menu. The Restore To option is a useful one because it enables you to save this version of the folder to a different place on the disk. Click it and choose where to save the folder.

This means that you have access to the current folder and its files, and the folder and files as it was on the date selected.

Restore previous versions of folders and files in Windows


Final thoughts

If you have lost files or overwritten them, don’t panic! There may be a way to get them back, even if you don’t have a backup.

Of course, backups are recommended and Backupper is one option. You can also Recover lost files with EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard Free.

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1 Comment on How to recover lost, deleted and overwritten files on Dropbox

  1. Cherished Acres // 2017/05/02 at 02:44 // Reply

    Thank you for this step by step how to! I could have used this a while back!

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