[Updated below with Dropbox Support’s response]

TL;DR: Here is how to do what it says in the title:

  1. Create a Dropbox for Teams account. This will cost you $795.
  2. Invite your Dropbox-using enemy to your team. They don’t have to accept, but it’s pretty enticing. 1TB of storage (not just for your folders - for all their stuff!), and you’re paying for it!
  3. Once they accept, revoke their team access. This completely deletes their Dropbox account (not just the “team’s” stuff).

Now, the story: So I was working for this startup in the summer, and they use Dropbox for Teams. I already had a Dropbox free account which I had used for school and a few personal projects. I did not really need more than 2GB for myself, but I had a few shared folders for personal projects, and for school I had public read-only shared folders to which several school friends had permalinks.

When I started working with the startup, they added me to their Dropbox “team”, which (besides being necessary for work) was awesome for my personal use - hey, 1TB that I’m not paying for, right? Of course I didn’t mind that it would be on my “regular” account.

At the end of the summer I stopped working with them, and yesterday they removed me from their Dropbox “team”. Hey, it makes sense that they shouldn’t pay Dropbox for my 1TB anymore.

What doesn’t make sense is that Dropbox immediately deleted my account when this happened. Completely. It signed off all my clients, and when I tried to use the “forgot password” feature, it told me an account with my email does not exist. The client left all the files on my machines, so I didn’t lose any personal data - it wasn’t a catastrophic failure. What I did lose:

I tried contacting Dropbox on twitter and using their site’s support contact form, and they have not yet gotten back to me. If I get a response from them, I will include it below. Update: See their response below.

In case you’re wondering, this is not a bug: it appears to be documented (sort of).

Here is a FAQ question about it:

https://www.dropbox.com/help/211/en

Quote (emphasis mine):

If someday you leave the team, it may not be possible to convert your Teams account back to an individual account that you can access.”

By the way, the email inviting you to join someone’s “Teams” account does not mention anything about never being able to go back. Here is the email I received when I was added:

Hi Yoni,

<name> has invited you to join "<team name>" on Dropbox for Teams!

To accept this invitation and upgrade your account, visit:

https://www.dropbox.com/team/confirm_migrate?signup_key=<blablabla>

If you have any questions, please contact <name> at <email> or support-team@dropbox.com.

Welcome to the team!

- Dropbox

Finally, since this is correct and documented behavior, I encourage you to use it to delete your enemies’ Dropbox accounts (they’re already your enemies, so it’s gotta be worth $795 to piss them off, right?). Let me know how it went :)

Yoni.

Discuss on HN: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4962975

Update:

About 2 hours after this appeared on HN, I got the following email from Dropbox support.

While it seems like the issue is about to be resolved for me, the general design problem still stands: You can still get people’s Dropbox accounts disabled. Also, note this: The team account admin has the power to decide whether you get to have your account re-enabled. While in my case this is fine, the “malicious” case is definitely not resolved.

Ryan M - Dropbox Support, Dec 24 09:42 am (PST):

Hi Yoni,

Thanks for writing in.

When you were removed from your former team, your account was disabled as part of that process. I’m happy to work with you and your former team admin on re-enabling your personal account.

As long as there are no objections from your former admin I can re-enable the account, but you will need to first disable the new Dropbox account that you created using your email address. Since you can only have one Dropbox account per email address, I cannot re-enable the old account until this email address is available.

After I re-enable the account, all of your files, folders, and any additional storage you had earned have been completely restored.

If there is anything further I can do to help, please be sure to let me know.

Best,

Ryan