Every IT admin knows the pain of having unused user accounts lingering around. But when you run a global cloud storage business, unused accounts can be a pain in the butt. For Dropbox, which is preparing to go public and is facing stiff competition from Microsoft, Google, Apple and others, the need to better manage infrastructure costs is particularly acute. In a filing to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Dropbox has said they've been able to save over US$35M in infrastructure costs. One of the things they did was delete data from inactive users.
The company said
Specifically, we closed the accounts of certain Basic users who had not engaged in any activity on the Dropbox platform in the last year and did not respond to multiple e-mail inquiries from us regarding their inactivity. We continue to regularly take similar measures to manage long-inactive and non-responsive Basic user accounts
In other words, "use it or lose it".
Dropbox originally launched on AWS but have shifted to their own data centres and local points of presence to improve performance. Now that they have to manage all the storage themselves, it makes sense to get rid of any detritus that is costing them money to store and manage.
While the removal of unused data is a good idea, enterprises should be careful if they're thinking of the same tactic. Look for opportunities to move data to lower cost storage options, rather than deleting - particularly if you are unsure as to exactly what data you're holding.