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Guide: Recover Deleted Files from Cloud

If the Celebrity Hack One thing that has taught us over the past few days is that the cloud never forgets. But even if Jenniffer Lawrence and the other Hollywood stars and starlets are probably condemning this fact in view of the mass publication of nude selfies at the moment, many users of Dropbox, Google Drive and the like can benefit from the Internet's elephant memory - namely when files are accidentally deleted . Virtually every cloud service, even in its free offerings, offers ways to recover deleted photos and other data, at least for a while. We will show you how this works with the various providers.

Easily create files and photos from Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive

The nice thing about cloud services like Dropbox is the fact that all changes to files that you make on a PC, Mac, the smartphone app or the web interface are synchronized directly to all devices. But that can also be fatal: If you accidentally delete an important document or a nice photo, it also disappears on all sync devices. But the damage is only virtual, as there is a high probability that you can recover all deleted files.

1. Recover deleted files from Dropbox

dropbox still enjoys great popularity as an “oldie” among cloud services. This is probably due to the very successful web interface, among other things. If you log into your Dropbox at, you can not only browse through the stored files, but also restore files that you have deleted on a computer or via the Dropbox app. With a free account, Dropbox keeps the data for 30 days before permanently deleting it; as a Dropbox Pro customer, you can even restore your photos and other data for a year.

To do this, simply navigate to the Dropbox folder containing the deleted files via the browser interface and click on the trash can icon in the top right. Dropbox now shows all deleted files in faint gray. Right-click on the content you are looking for and select "Restore", confirm the process and it will appear again in your Dropbox. You can also use the Ctrl key to select and restore multiple files at the same time. By the way, you can permanently delete files from Dropbox in the same way - at least for you, because ultimately only the operators know what happens on the servers ;)

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Dropbox users can recover deleted files for up to a year

2. Recover deleted files from OneDrive

Microsofts OneDrive (formerly known as SkyDrive) has now developed into a veritable cloud alternative. Not only do you get 7 GB of online storage for free, you also get a fully-fledged online office whose functions and operation are based on those of Microsoft's Office suite. In addition, OneDrive has been an integral part of Microsoft's operating system since Windows 8.1, which should sooner or later lead to an ever-increasing spread.

As with Dropbox, you can also restore deleted files from OneDrive for up to 30 days. Here, too, the path leads via the web interface. Log in with your Microsoft account and then click on “Trash” in the menu on the left. Here, OneDrive lists all deleted folders and files that you can restore with a right click. They then appear at the specified "place of origin" and are immediately synchronized again to all connected devices.

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In typical Microsoft style, OneDrive offers the option of restoring files and folders via the recycle bin

3. Deleted files on Google Drive

Of course, Google should not be missing when it comes to cloud services. Any user with a Google account can access Google Drive Store at least 15 GB of data and use a fully-fledged online office at the same time, which is on a par with the competitor Microsoft in many respects. As with Dropbox and OneNote, you can not only sync Google Drive files via clients on PCs and Macs or access them via an app, but also restore files and folders.

The procedure for Google Drive largely corresponds to that of OneDrive: You log in to Google Drive and click on “Recycle Bin” in the menu on the left. From the list you now select the files and folders that you want to bring back from data nirvana and click on "Restore". Alternatively, you can use "Permanently Delete" to get rid of them forever. The preview function is practical: If you click on a deleted file, Google Drive will show you the content of many document and multimedia formats. This way you can make sure you get the right files.

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Google Drive offers a handy preview of deleted files, so you're sure to recover the right data

4. Special case Apple iCloud and the Photo Stream

Apple's cloud backup iCloud is a special case when it comes to recovering deleted files. As usual with Apple, you have relatively little control over what happens behind the scenes of iCloud. iCloud will only offer a "classic" Dropbox-style sync service in future versions, but photos that you take on the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch can already be backed up. If you have previously activated the "My Photo Stream" function, the pictures will be automatically synchronized on all iOS devices as well as a Mac or Windows PC that you have set up accordingly. The special feature: If you delete a photo on iPhone and Co. in the photo app under "Recordings", it can still be saved in the iCloud via your photo stream - and thus also on your synchronized devices. It is therefore practically impossible to "accidentally" delete a picture here, since you still have a backup of the photo when the photo stream is activated (assuming a WLAN connection). You must delete these separately under "Albums/Photo Stream" to ensure that the photos are really deleted.

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While you can't restore photos from iCloud, it's pretty much impossible to accidentally delete photos from Apple

Perhaps this actually practical feature was the undoing of the actress Mary Elizabeth Winstead, who claims that her leaked nude pictures already have her to have deleted years ago. Because: Apple does not currently offer the option of restoring photos that have been deleted from the photo stream...

Boris Hofferbert

Freelance journalist, enthusiastic about technology since the blissful Amiga days, Apple desktop fan and Android fan on the go, gambles on Windows, can’t do without music (from classic rock to ska to punk) and audio books, likes to take postcard photos, always has at least two cell phones and is very happy about one coffee donation ;-)


    1. I would also be interested... I pressed the wrong button by "trying it out" and now all the photos/videos from the last 3 months are missing... is there a way to restore the photos that were deleted in the cloud? They're not in the trash

      1. Hi all,

        unfortunately I don't have a Samsung cell phone (or anything else from Samsung ;) ) in use, so I can't really help there :-/

        Unfortunately, my tip can only be to ask the question in the Samsung community or another Samsung forum or to search for relevant information. Or just contact Samsung support directly, they will surely help you further:

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