Document synchronizing and sharing tools, such as Dropbox, Google Drive and One Drive, have been tremendously successful, with more than 500 million users. This is only natural, since they allow us to access the same content in several devices and to share it with others.
In fact, what these tools do is they duplicate the information in various places ˗Cloud included˗ at the same time. For this reason, many users feel safe when they save important stuff in the dropbox folder of their drives. They believe those files are in the Cloud and thus properly protected.
However, this flexibility poses some challenges. It demands consciousness and a minimal level of competence from the users to avoid issues that arise more and more often. Let’s look at some specific examples:
- A user who accepts an invitation to access and modify a shared folder can erase its contents. Since synchronizing occurs automatically, that information will also be deleted in all other devices sharing the folder, including the personal computer of the owner of the folder. This is what we call synchronization, contents saved become exactly the same in all devices. Users are therefore forced to protect their information at another location to avoid other users deleting what they want to keep safe and untouched.
- If you delete something say on your smartphone or tablet, it also disappears from the Cloud and from all other synchronized devices, including the personal computer of the mobile device owner. It seems quite obvious that children are particularly adept at deleting stuff when they borrow your smartphone or tablet, but as obvious is that they are not the only sloppy ones.
- On top of the well known capacity limits they impose, many people ignore that synchronizing tools erase after 30 days any deleted files and also older versions of modified files, keeping just one, in a way that it is impossible to recover them by any means after that period.
- If a virus or ransomware attack occurs, the infection spreads to all other synchronized devices. It becomes imperative therefore to immediately determine all files that may have been infected and recover their clean versions before the files are definitely erased, if possible at all. However, malware threats are increasingly more sophisticated and people behind them know synchronizing tools’ behavior.