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I have a few files that had been deleted on Dropbox's cloud 6 months ago. So they won't be available on the cloud anymore. However, they were on one of my local computers that had not been synced for 1+ year.

Originally I was planning to turn on that local computer with the LAN cable unplugged so I could copy the files. However after turning on the desktop PC, I realised there was a wireless dongle attached to the back of the PC. So Dropbox deleted the files for me on the PC today.

What would be the best ways to recover those lost files? Does this mean I will have to resort to a conventional file recovery software?

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  • First, shut down the PC -- any writes to the HDD lessen any chance of recovery.
  • Second, open the drive read-only from another OS, e.g. running from WindowsPE or Linux on USB. If you're lucky, the files are in the Recycle Bin, i.e. the folder $RECYCLE.BIN. If so, copy them and check that they're OK.

$RECYCLE.BIN

  • Third, if you're still in luck, the files have simply been marked as deleted, but have not been overwritten. Use PhotoRec or an alternative recovery utility such as Recuva.
  • If these quick fixes don't work, you might contact Dropbox to see if recovery is possible, or, as a last, expensive, resort, use commercial data recovery
  • Checking the recycle bin immediately might be a quick fix too, just looking doesn't do much new writing does it? – Xen2050 Dec 24 '18 at 4:20
  • As long as the system is already booted, an immediate look would have been OK, but just sitting there without user input, disk writes continue - e.g. downloading virus def'n updates. If @matohak checked before submitting this question, it would not have hurt. – DrMoishe Pippik Dec 24 '18 at 21:40

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