Dropbox versioning - retrieving folders at a point in time

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rustleg
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Dropbox versioning - retrieving folders at a point in time

Post by rustleg » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:58 am

I use Syncback SE locally and also use Dropbox (but directly not using Syncback). One reason for using Dropbox is the ability to retrieve deleted/overwritten files as an insurance against ransomware.

I checked out retrieving Dropbox deleted files and I could only find a way to retrieve individual files not a complete folder tree. Doing it manually for all files is out of the question - there are far too many. What I'm looking for is to retrieve the state of a folder and all contents including subfolders which existed at a point in time (i.e. before any ransomware has struck). Is there such a facility in Syncback? I'd be prepared to buy whichever edition this supported.

My only other tactic will be to create large zip archives (easily updated with Syncback) and upload the latest version every day (overnight). This would take many hours but is just about feasible for the relatively small volume of data I have.

Conrad Chung
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Re: Dropbox versioning - retrieving folders at a point in time

Post by Conrad Chung » Tue Jun 20, 2017 7:55 am

One alternative to avoid this entire situation would be to detect for possible ransomware file encryption on a honeypot file, and if the "dummy" file has changed, stop all SyncBack runs from taking place altogether.

This function is available in all variants of SyncBack V8 (including SE):

Preferences menu > Options > Expert tab

The V8 Help file will contain more details.

You can give V8 a try if you are not already using it:

http://www.2brightsparks.com/downloads.html

rustleg
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Re: Dropbox versioning - retrieving folders at a point in time

Post by rustleg » Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:50 pm

I don't agree with this method, it's far too risky. How would I know that the honeypot file would be encrypted before the real data files are lost? Would there be time between possible detection and stopping the backup?

I want to ensure I can restore a backup of my latest files. Ransomware will encrypt all files it finds and destroy the originals. Automatic backup routines will backup the encrypted files and remove the deleted files, so the backups need versioning. Dropbox provides versioning but not in a way that allows easy recovery of all files at a point in time. That's the scenario I am looking for. In my view this is the only real defence against ransomware.

So can I assume from your reply that Syncback V8 doesn't provide any means of retrieving a complete set of files as at a point of time?

Conrad Chung
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Re: Dropbox versioning - retrieving folders at a point in time

Post by Conrad Chung » Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:26 pm

AFAIK, it's not possible for SyncBack to retrieve files from Dropbox deleted files section.

You can try using Versioning instead. The Versioning feature comes with a Rollback option to rollback files to a previous date and time during restore.

The Rollback menu is available in the Differences window.

Read more about this feature here:
https://www.2brightsparks.com/syncback/ ... b=rollback

rustleg
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Re: Dropbox versioning - retrieving folders at a point in time

Post by rustleg » Wed Jun 21, 2017 1:47 pm

From what I read of versioning in the help pages, Syncback finds its old/deleted files from the PC in a hidden folder. I don't expect the fact that the folder is hidden will stop ransomware from finding and encrypting these files.

But thanks for confirming that Syncback doesn't support Dropbox's versioning. Unfortunately I see no way of using Syncback to achieve what I am looking for.

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Re: Dropbox versioning - retrieving folders at a point in time

Post by cliffhanger » Wed Jun 21, 2017 4:48 pm

Just passing, but I think Conrad meant 'use SyncBack's Versioning on Destination - where your Destination is DropBox'. Versions are indeed stored in hidden $SBV$ folders, but such $SBV$ folders are stored in the same location your Destination backup files are stored, not 'on the PC' (unless that happens to be 'the same thing', in which case you're correct about the risk - not to mention at risk from power rail issues taking out all your disks at once). But your backups can be stored in a Cloud location, on an FTP server, a portable disk (that you disconnect afterwards)...and so can your Versions.

rustleg
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Re: Dropbox versioning - retrieving folders at a point in time

Post by rustleg » Wed Jun 21, 2017 5:22 pm

Thanks Cliffhanger, this is promising.

I looked at the pdf help file for V8, wherever it mentions Dropbox, but I couldn't find a full explanation of how the backup to Dropbox works. In the normal way of using Dropbox, there's a Dropbox client on the PC which backs up changes on the fly. So I presume this would have to be turned off and instead use Syncback to do backups maybe on a schedule? Or would Syncback back up continuously like the Dropbox client itself? In this case with Syncback's versioning feature turned on it might be the sort of solution I need, so that I can effectively roll back the state of files to a date in the past.

Are there any links you can give me which point to more information on Dropbox with Syncback? Such as if the Dropbox folder is hidden does it mean it also has to mirror a hidden folder on the PC, in which case we are back with risk of ransomware finding and encrypting files in this folder. The ideal solution would be a hidden (or just an extra) folder on Dropbox, not mirrored from the PC, which is not synced to by the normal Dropbox upload. Would it be possible to inspect the contents of such a folder in the Dropbox cloud?

To date I have only used Syncback SE V6 so perhaps I am asking questions a Pro user would know.

Alternatively I could envisage using a different cloud service for a daily Syncback run which doesn't use the Dropbox method of mirroring the contents of folders on the PC. I'd keep Dropbox for continuous backups and use the other service just for insurance against ransomware.

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Re: Dropbox versioning - retrieving folders at a point in time

Post by Conrad Chung » Thu Jun 22, 2017 3:13 pm

rustleg wrote:So I presume this would have to be turned off and instead use Syncback to do backups maybe on a schedule?
Yes, either set a schedule, run it manually or other forms of background runs. Basically profiles backing up to/from Dropbox behaves typically the same way as other normal SyncBack profiles.
rustleg wrote:Or would Syncback back up continuously like the Dropbox client itself?
Only if you enable OnChanges. Note that OnChanges can't detect changes on cloud servers. So OnChanges can only be set on the local side. Are you backing up to or from Dropbox?
rustleg wrote:Such as if the Dropbox folder is hidden does it mean it also has to mirror a hidden folder on the PC, in which case we are back with risk of ransomware finding and encrypting files in this folder. The ideal solution would be a hidden (or just an extra) folder on Dropbox, not mirrored from the PC, which is not synced to by the normal Dropbox upload. Would it be possible to inspect the contents of such a folder in the Dropbox cloud?
I don't quite understand this question. Are you syncing files from Dropbox to your local folder or the other way around? I would suggest downloading a copy of the No-Install SyncBackPro V8 and run a dropbox profile to test it yourself.

The easiest way to test SyncBack would be to download a copy of SyncBackPro V8 No-Install version and run the testing from there. This way, your cloud testing can be done safely in the SyncBack No-Install folder without interfering with your existing installed copy of SyncBackPro.

You can download the SyncBackPro V8 No-Install version from this link (serial not required if you select Evaluate):

http://www.2brightsparks.com/assets/sof ... tup_NI.zip

Remember to close SE V6 first before running Pro V8.

rustleg
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Re: Dropbox versioning - retrieving folders at a point in time

Post by rustleg » Thu Jun 22, 2017 4:21 pm

Thanks for the info Conrad.

So if the Dropbox client is turned off and Syncback takes over, I presume I don't need an actual Dropbox folder on the PC. I can just choose any source I like?

Regarding the question you don't understand. I'm syncing from the PC to the cloud. I understand Syncback creates a hidden folder for its versioning. One way it could do this is to create such a folder on the PC, then sync that to the cloud. If that is how it works, I am concerned that the ransomware will see this folder even though it's hidden from the file explorer so might also encrypt these old file copies. In this case after Syncback syncs to the cloud, all the cloud versions will also be encrypted. But maybe it just creates the hidden folder in the cloud, so as ransomware has no direct access to the cloud it can't encrypt these (until the criminals find a way to do that also)?

I'll give the No-Install trial a go.

Conrad Chung
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Re: Dropbox versioning - retrieving folders at a point in time

Post by Conrad Chung » Fri Jun 23, 2017 11:22 am

rustleg wrote:So if the Dropbox client is turned off and Syncback takes over, I presume I don't need an actual Dropbox folder on the PC. I can just choose any source I like?
Yes, once you create profiles connecting to Dropbox, you don't really need the Dropbox client turned on.
rustleg wrote:Regarding the question you don't understand. I'm syncing from the PC to the cloud. I understand Syncback creates a hidden folder for its versioning. One way it could do this is to create such a folder on the PC, then sync that to the cloud. If that is how it works, I am concerned that the ransomware will see this folder even though it's hidden from the file explorer so might also encrypt these old file copies. In this case after Syncback syncs to the cloud, all the cloud versions will also be encrypted. But maybe it just creates the hidden folder in the cloud, so as ransomware has no direct access to the cloud it can't encrypt these (until the criminals find a way to do that also)?
That's not really how Versioning works. The Versioning hidden subfolder is created at the location where you enable Versioning at, meaning to say, if you enable Versioning on Destination, then that's where Versioning $SBV$ hidden folders will be created.

Bear in mind that if you plan to use Versioning with a default Backup or Mirror (Right) profile, you should turn on Versioning on Destination and not Versioning on Source (unless your profile is 2-way sync or backup/mirror (left)).

rustleg
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Re: Dropbox versioning - retrieving folders at a point in time

Post by rustleg » Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:05 pm

Many thanks for the very helpful responses, all of which lead me to think it can do what I want.

I now have to find time to do some trials with the no-install version which I intend to do on a spare PC with a basic Dropbox account.

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