Can You Recover Data Deleted From Your Cloud Drive?

Chris Hoffman 11-03-2013

We put our files in the cloud to make things easier – we can access them anywhere and it’s our cloud storage provider’s job to keep them safe, not ours. But it doesn’t matter how reliable a cloud storage service is if you delete a file from your cloud drive and want it back later. Luckily, there are several ways you can restore deleted data.


None of these methods are completely foolproof. Cloud storage services Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive: Which Cloud Storage Is Best for You? Have you changed the way you think about cloud storage? The popular options of Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive have been joined by others. We help you answer which cloud storage service should you use. Read More like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Skydrive aren’t backup solutions, and they don’t keep deleted files around forever.

Restore From Trash Online

When you delete a file from a cloud storage service like Dropbox, Google Drive, or SkyDrive, it isn’t deleted immediately. Instead, it’s moved to a Recycle Bin-like trash area online. You can’t access this area from the cloud storage application on your computer. Instead, you’ll need to log into the cloud storage service’s website.

how to recover data from cloud

You can right-click a file in the deleted files area and restore it to its original location or move it elsewhere in your account.

Note that cloud storage services will automatically clear your trash after some time to free up space, although the time deleted files are kept will vary from service to service. Deleted files are usually kept for about 30 days, although they may be deleted sooner depending on how much storage they’re using.


Some other, less-good cloud storage services may delete files immediately, so beware.

View Previous Versions

Most cloud storage services also save previous versions of files How To Recover Deleted Files Using Windows 7's Restore Previous Versions Tool We all know the importance of backups. If we've it heard once, we've heard it a million times. Always have backups, always save after every change, always use Dropbox (or something similar) to save previous... Read More . If you accidentally delete data by saving a new file over an old file, or if you delete important data from a document and want to get it back, you can use the version history feature.

You can access this feature by visiting your cloud drive’s website, right-clicking a file, and selecting Previous versions (Dropbox), Manage revisions (Google Drive), or Version history (SkyDrive).

Services often delete previous versions after some time (often 30 days), so don’t count on the previous versions feature to store important data about a file’s history.


data recovery from the cloud

Access Dropbox’s Cache

Dropbox keeps a local cache of files you move and delete. This cache is cleared every three days, so you’ll have to access it soon after you delete the file. However, if you get to it quickly, you may be able to recover a deleted file from here.

To access the cache, enter the following address into Windows Explorer’s Fun & Useful Alternatives For Windows Explorer Windows Explorer – now known as File Explorer in Windows 8 – is a mainstay of the Windows desktop. No matter how many alternative programs Windows tweakers use, most people seem to stick with the... Read More address bar:


data recovery from the cloud


Restore From a Synced Computer

Let’s say you’ve already deleted a file and cleared the recycle bin in your online account. Can you get the file back? Maybe – there are a few things you can try:

  • Access The Files on a Synced Computer: Let’s say you have Dropbox synced to multiple computers, but you’ve just deleted a file. However, you have a computer that’s been powered-off the whole time. If you disconnect the computer from the Internet and power it on in offline mode, you should be able to recover the file from Dropbox’s folder before it connects to the Internet and deletes it. Even if Dropbox deletes a file right after you turn the computer on, it should still be recoverable from the cache or with the below methods.
  • Inspect Each Computer’s Recycle Bin: Examine the recycle bin on each computer that’s synced with your cloud storage account and look for a copy of the file. For example, Google Drive sends files to the recycle bin on each computer instead of deleting them immediately. Assuming the recycle bin hasn’t been emptied on one of the computers, you can get your file back.
  • Use a Local File-Recovery Utility: If the deleted file was synced to your computer at some point, you can attempt to recover it the same way you’d try to recover any other deleted file that was once on your hard drive. Use a file-recovery tool Restore Deleted Files Easily With Recuva Read More like Recuva that looks for deleted files on your hard drive and attempts to restore them. This has the same limitations as recovering any other type of deleted file: if you’ve recently deleted the file, you have a better chance of recovering it. As time passes and your computer writes more files to your hard drive, the chances of recovery decrease.

data recovery from the cloud

Back Up Your Cloud Drive

All this demonstrates the importance of backing up your files ahead of time. Services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and SkyDrive aren’t backup services – it’s too easy to delete a file permanently.

You should back up your cloud storage files like you back up any other files. If they’re synced offline to a folder on your computer, you can back them up The Windows Backup and Restore Guide Disasters happen. Unless you're willing to lose your data, you need a good Windows backup routine. We'll show you how to prepare backups and restore them. Read More using a standard local file backup program. Google Drive users can use Google Takeout to download all the files in their Google Drive How to Download & Back Up Your Gmail & Other Google Data We’re storing more and more data in the cloud these days. Email, contacts, documents, photos, calendar entries - you name it, it’s on Google’s servers. But what happens when the services we rely on go... Read More , as Google Drive doesn’t sync full local copies of Google Docs files to your computer.


If you’re all about the cloud, you may want to explore some sort of cloud backup service that automatically backs up your cloud drive to elsewhere. For example, you could back up your files across different cloud storage services Double The Cloud Power: How To Sync Files Across Storage Services Being able to sync from our many devices to the Cloud is an awesome benefit of modern computing. We’re able to take our files with us on mobile devices, access them from other computers without... Read More . Backupify offers a backup service for Google Drive, although the free version is limited to 1 GB of backup space and backups performed weekly. You may also want to try a standard online backup provider Read This Before Choosing An Online Backup Provider Backing up your files is a no-brainer - at least it should be. Hardware failure, security breaches, natural disasters, thieving scumbags and clumsiness can all lead to heart-in-mouth moments when you realise that your precious... Read More , which would back up the files on your computer – cloud drive and all – to a remote location.

how to recover data from cloud

Have you ever needed to recover an accidentally deleted file from your cloud drive? Do you make regular backups, just in case? Leave a comment and let us know!

Related topics: Cloud Computing, Cloud Storage, Data Recovery, Restore Data.

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  1. Mafalda McGrane
    August 2, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    I deleted photos and video pictures on my kindle. They were not on my cloud drive. I did not know that you had to back them up. Is there a way to get them back. I do not have a computer. Thanks please let me know if you can help.

  2. Roger
    November 3, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    How do I recover something that was permanently deleted from my trash bin on my Google drive account on my Android phone. I can't express how critical it is that I recover thus information!?!?!?!?!?!

  3. Roger
    November 3, 2016 at 2:02 pm

    I need to recover something that was permanently deleted from my trash bin on my Google drive account on my Android phone. HOW DO I DO THAT?!?!?!? I can't express how critical it is that I retrieve this information.

  4. Garris Rago
    March 12, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    Actually didn't know you can recover deleted things on google drive, guess I just have never needed to. Good to know for the future (Y)

  5. R Michael Lacy
    March 12, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    Great info! Thanks!

  6. Onaje Asheber
    March 12, 2013 at 5:41 pm

    I had not took this into account. Great post/info.

  7. Ron Lister
    March 12, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Good to know, thanks for the tips. Cloud storage IMHO hasn't been around long enough for me to trust it to be my only backup of important files and docs. So I use external hard drives and back up the backups frequently. I have been looking at the personal cloud devices such as the "Western Digital 4TB My Book Live Duo Personal Cloud Storage (NAS)" as well as others recently those look interesting I like the idea of the data being physicaly in my care and secure as well as being available to all my devices. I'm sure like all electronics the price of these devices in time will come down as well.

  8. dragonmouth
    March 12, 2013 at 1:41 pm

    "Cloud storage services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and Skydrive aren’t backup solutions"
    If that is so, then why are various MUO writers vigorously pushing the Cloud as a backup solution??? Somebody here is speaking with forked tongue.

  9. macwitty
    March 12, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I haven't recovered deleted files but used "compare versions a lot of time". I'm a bit old fashion and do not trust the cloud to 100 percent why I include their folders be in my regular backup

  10. Nevzat Akkaya
    March 12, 2013 at 7:21 am

    Good tips. I hope we don't get into such a trouble one day. :)

  11. Brian Mok
    March 12, 2013 at 5:21 am

    Useful. Thanks for the tips. :)

  12. ReadandShare
    March 12, 2013 at 4:35 am

    Regarding SkyDrive's option for retrieving previous versions -- that pertains only to office type files (spreadsheets, word docs and powerpoint files). No versioning for your Quicken data file, for example.