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My Dropbox Woes

Dropbox-LogoFirst, let me start by saying that I really love Dropbox and think it is indispensable.

I have a Dropbox Pro account that my computer and mobile devices connect to, and then I synch pretty much *every* file on my computer to it.

This does two things for me:

  1. I have access to everything no matter where I am.
    As I have my own business and work pretty much all the time, and since I travel a lot, this is really great.
  2. I have access to everything even without my computer.
    Armed with my iPad Air 2, Office 365, and Dropbox, I am a mobile warrior. If a client calls me and needs an emergency edit on a file, I can open it up on my iPad and take care of it.
  3. I am backed up (for the most part) without having to even think about it.
    Okay, really this isn’t quite as solid a backup plan as it should be:  I should also be copying everything to a second source. But this is better then the “oh crap that was my only copy of that file” problem I’d otherwise have.

Trouble in paradise: Business account

I’ve been a Pro account holder for at least a few years and have never had any problems… until this month. Heed my warning: if your client or employer signs up for a Dropbox Business Account, do not sign up for it using your personal account email address!

I did that, and here’s what happened, in order:

  1. All personal files immediately started to upload into the business account folders
  2. Luckily I noticed within just a few minutes and quickly I turned off my wireless to stop the synch
  3. I contacted the webmaster for my client who had the Dropbox Business account and asked him to immediately cancel my membership in their account and delete my files that had uploaded. (I am lucky that this is a great guy… can you imagine if he was a jerk?)
  4. Not knowing what would happen to my files that were “backed up” on the Dropbox servers, I spent a few hours backing up my entire computer onto an external hard drive.
  5. I reconnected to the Internet to make sure I was still synched okay… and I wasn’t.

Uh oh.

I’ve been tremendously busy lately, so in between meetings and other projects, whenever I had spare time, I poked around, tried a few things, and nothing seemed to be synching. So finally after a couple of days of this, I went to the website and went to log in, and it didn’t work. I tried the password recovery, and it said that there was no account for that email address. WHAT?!

Uh oh, again. Time to contact support… which of course means running through a maze of forums and FAQs and knowledge base articles before you can finally get to a link where you can submit a support ticket.

[I must interject here: The whole process to sign on to a Dropbox Business account when you already have a personal Dropbox account is so convoluted and confusing that I’m not entirely sure what exactly I did wrong. For all I know there is a perfectly reasonable “right way” to do it — but I sure couldn’t figure it out!]

I contacted support with a subject line “I am so screwed — my Dropbox account has been hosed!”, and a very helpful person from Dropbox support replied to me via email TEN days later! He said that when my access to the Business account was cancelled (in step 3 above), that basically cancelled my account. He would be happy to reinstate my account, but he had to ask permission from the owner of the Business account. So, again: aren’t I terribly lucky that the webmaster who is the account holder is a great guy? Yikes.

Within 3 days my account was restored, although they restored it at the “Basic/Free” level and I had to upgrade to the Pro account again. I don’t *think* I lost any $ in this deal: they said that my Pro account had been refunded at a prorated rate. I didn’t bother to look at my credit card records to verify that.

The moral of the story

So. I really love Dropbox and think it is a crazy-useful tool. But they have some serious procedural stuff figure out with how people with Pro accounts can access Business accounts. My solution: Even though it’s terribly inconvenient: do not try to connect the accounts.

Do you have a better solution? I’d love to hear about it!