8. Recover lost files
Deleted a file you wish you hadn’t? Dropbox hangs on to deleted files for 30 days – or 120 days if you upgrade to the paid Professional or Business plan.
If you need to resurrect a file, open up a web browser, log into dropbox.com and click Files in the sidebar, followed by “Deleted files”. Click the file you want to recover, then click the Restore button.
From here you can also select “Delete permanently” if you want to remove sensitive files for good. If you want to make sure that the data can’t ever be recovered, you will want to clear the local Dropbox cache on your local computers, too: you can find it at “%HOMEPATH%\Dropbox\.dropbox.cache”.
As well as deleted files, Dropbox also keeps track of changed files, and you can roll back to a previous version of an uploaded file if you need to undo any updates. In Windows, right-click over a file in the regular files view and pick “Version History” from the menu to view older versions.
As with deleted files, Dropbox keeps track of things for 30 days, so if you’ve made several changes in that time you should see them all stacked up. If your most recent amendment was more than a month ago, though, that’s the only version you’ll see.
9. Secure your Dropbox account
Your Dropbox may contain all sorts of personal and professional files: you might well want to protect them from prying eyes by adding an extra degree of security to your account. On the Dropbox mobile app, open the app settings, then tap Passcode lock, and supply a four-digit code: in future this code will be required in order to view the contents of your Dropbox. On some devices it’s possible to use a fingerprint instead.
You should also secure access to your account via the Dropbox site by enabling two-factor authentication. Open dropbox.com/account/security and click the switch beside two-step verification. Provide your existing password and choose whether you want to receive an authorisation code via text message to confirm logins from new devices, or whether you’d prefer to use an authenticator app. If you’re happy to share your number, texts are usually the simplest solution.
The only catch with the text message approach is that if you don’t have your phone handy, you won’t be able to receive an authentication code, so you won’t be able to log in from a new device. To help you avoid this problem, Dropbox also provides a list of one-off backup codes that you should note down in a safe place. If possible, try and memorise one of them, so you can always unlock your account even if you have nothing at all to hand.
10. Unlink old devices and apps
Another worthwhile security measure is to unlink any devices that haven’t been used for a while from your account. That way, even if someone else is able to get into your old phone or laptop, they won’t be able to rifle through your Dropbox. To do this, go to the Dropbox website, click Security and review your linked devices.
There’s no way to unlink all but the current device automatically, so you’ll need to go through the list of linked devices one by one, clicking the X beside each.
Similarly, there’s no reason to allow old apps that you’re no longer using to have continued access to your Dropbox. Click through to the Connected apps tab and make sure all of the applications you’ve granted access to over the years still really do need authorisation to read, save to and delete from your account. Once again, click the X next to any that should be removed.
11. Encrypt your uploads
If you want to ensure that no-one else can access your cloud files, consider encrypting your uploads. One easy way to do this is with a tool called Boxcryptor, which is free for personal use if you only want to synchronise between two devices and a single cloud provider – although around 20 providers are supported, including Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive.
It runs on your PC or Mac (with mobile clients also available for Android and iOS) and creates a virtual Boxcryptor drive on your PC, which is connected to your Dropbox account but automatically encrypts files before uploading them. This way, you can easily choose which files are encrypted and which are uploaded in their native formats, for sharing with others.
Next: Advanced Dropbox tips