What happens when I delete files in Dropbox?

When you delete a file from Dropbox, it's no longer visible in any of the folders you see in your account. However, the file is not yet permanently deleted. Rather, it's moved into a queue for permanent deletion. This queuing enables features like file recovery and version history. Depending on what type of Dropbox account you have, file recovery and version history differs:

  • For most Basic and Plus users, files are recoverable for 30 days
  • For Plus subscribers with extended version history, files are recoverable for 1 year
  • For most Professional and Dropbox Business customers, files are available for 120 days

Permanent deletions

You can permanently delete a file yourself to skip the above queuing process. Permanent deletion of a file will not allow you or Dropbox to restore these files at a later date. This applies to manually permanently deleting a file, as well as a file exceeding the recovery period specific to your account type. Here's what you should know about permanent deletions:

  • This action will begin a permanent deletion process that can take up to 60 days in the normal course of operations.
  • Permanently deleting a file means that you will not be able to recover it.

What happens when I delete files from a shared folder?

You can also permanently delete a shared folder.

Data destruction mechanisms

Dropbox uses a secure deletion process to delete data from our servers. Additionally, when a Dropbox storage disk has reached the end of its useful life or is damaged, we follow a decommissioning process that is designed to physically destroy the disk to the point data cannot be recovered. Our third-party service providers also follow secure destruction processes for media they control.

Dropbox Business Administrators

When you remove a team member using the delete user function, the non-shared files are still associated with the disabled account. The files will not be permanently deleted until you take further action.

You will have the option to transfer files or permanently delete files when you are removing the member's account using the Manage files feature:

  1. Click Manage files.
  2. Select the file.
  3. Click Permanently delete.


  • If you choose to Permanently delete a team member's files, the deletion process can take up to 60 days in the normal course of operations.
  • You can view a list of disabled accounts in the admin console.

New to Dropbox?

Whether you're new to Dropbox or just need a refresher, get the most from your Dropbox account by taking advantage of our self-guided learning or virtual instructor-led training classes. 

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