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Archive for December 2014

Old files suddenly start syncing in DropBox

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I was confused when I saw that DropBox had suddenly sync’d fourteen files that hadn’t changed in over a year.

I was concerned that something odd was going on: was this a DropBox bug ? Had I been hacked ? Had I accidentally dragged the mouse in Windows Explorer and moved a folder within a sync’d folder ?

Unfortunately, while DropBox’s events history shows the name of the file and the date and time of the event it doesn’t show you which computer caused an event. However, from the date and time I guessed that it was my desktop computer that had sync’d the files.

I checked the Control Panel’s Programs and Features applet and found that it was reporting that DropBox had been installed a few minutes before the sync date/time. As DropBox has been installed on this computer for a couple of years, what this was really telling me was that an updated version of DropBox had recently been installed (and without my knowledge or consent).

DropBox has joined the increasing ranks of companies who believe that a simple web site, free of any technical content, is somehow a good thing and I couldn’t find any information on recent releases. Thankfully, a search for “dropbox 3.0.3 site:dropbox.com” on Google listed https://www.dropbox.com/release_notes and this shows that long path support was recently added to DropBox. It was actually added in 3.0.2 which was released on 8 December, quickly followed by 3.0.3 the following day, and then 3.0.4 on the 18 December.

I’m somewhat surprised to discover that DropBox hadn’t implemented long path support by now.

A quick check of the files that suddenly started syncing after 3.0.3 was installed shows that they’re all in a directory that is 247 characters long and that the full path for each file exceeds the MAX_PATH limit of 260 characters. It’s worth noting that the maximum length of a directory is 248 characters based on the requirement to be able to store the directory name and a full 8.3 filename within the 260 characters as explained on this MSDN web page: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-gb/library/windows/desktop/aa365247(v=vs.85).aspx

As for DropBox silently installing a newer version without any prompt or notification: I understand that DropBox would prefer its users to be on the current version but to install updated software without even a notification never mind asking for consent is really not acceptable. If nothing else, it demonstrates a worrying arrogance on its part and I wonder if this is the time to start looking for an alternative ?


Written by Sea Monkey

December 22, 2014 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Environments

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