How to permanently delete files from Dropbox

A greater number of people are using Dropbox and other cloud-based file-sharing systems, but a much smaller number know how to permanently remove files from these servers. Learn how to erase files from Dropbox forever.

Rob Lightner
Rob Lightner is a tech and gaming writer based in Seattle. He has reviewed games, gadgets, and technical manuals, written copy for space travel gear, and composed horoscopes for cats.
Rob Lightner

Dropbox is one of many great, free (or cheap, if you want extra storage space) options for sharing files across devices or users. That's all most people need to know--but for those who work with sensitive information or who have concerns about shifting privacy policies (or subpoenas, for that matter), ensuring that deleted files stay deleted is essential. Here's how to do it:

  1. Open the Dropbox site in a browser window and sign in. (You can't do this from a Dropbox folder on your computer.)
  2. Navigate to the folder that held or holds the files you want to delete.
  3. Delete them if need be, then select "Show deleted files" from the navigation bar above the file list.
  4. Dropbox: show deleted files
    Step 3: Show deleted files.
  5. Select the deleted files you want to remove permanently, then select "More" from the navigation bar, then select "Permanently delete."
  6. Dropbox: permanently delete files
    Step 4: Permanently delete files.

That's it! Note that there's also an "Undelete" option, which can be handy, but won't work for files you've permanently deleted in this way.