Short Story: I was attempting to create a symlinked folder from my external to my desktop, and the folder I wanted (ALL of my working folders and files) are gone.

Long Story: My job wanted me to use Box Sync for my files. I installed Box Sync, and told it to use my work external HDD as the sync. It created a folder on there called "Box Sync".

On that same HDD, I had a folder on there called "Work Files". I opened up Work Files in another window, and dragged and dropped everything from there into the new Box Sync folder.

Box Sync started scanning so it could sync. There were a LOT of files and folders in there, so it didn't start syncing right away. While it was scanning, I decided to create a SymLink of the folder onto my desktop. I can never remember the terminal code, so I used the instructions in THIS ARTICLE.

In the article, they say to do:

sudo rm -rf /PATH/TO/COPY

and then


Howerver, directly after using the first line, my "Box Sync" folder was deleted off of my external.

How on earth can I undo this damage?

  • Usually files removed via rm are gone for good and need to be recovered from backup. In your case it would help to understand the problem better if you could add the exact commands you've executed (and any output they produced if you still have the Terminal window open) so we can see what you actually did.
    – nohillside
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 15:24
  • I already posted that. However, for exactness, I put in "sudo rm -rf /Volumes/Brandon\'s\ External/Box\ Sync". It asked for my password and I put it in. When then attempting to "ln -s /Users/brandonmoner/Desktop", it told me that the file already existed. I went to check on the Box Sync folder, and it was gone.
    – bmoneruxui
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 15:31
  • 1
    The first command removed your "Box Sync" folder for good.
    – nohillside
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 15:52

1 Answer 1


The command you ran first deletes all files and folders in /PATH/TO/COPY; note the warning above the command in the article you linked to: "Next, remove the existing Downloads folder (make sure it is empty first)."

Though the data is probably still present on the drive, the operating system now has no idea where it is.

Assuming that you don't have backups available, your only option at this point is probably to use some kind of file recovery software. This answer at Superuser has some links to potential options. PhotoRec is a free, open-source solution that might work.

Best of luck, and be sure to back up your data (ideally to multiple places) in the future.

  • So I ran disk drill and was able to find all of the data. HOWEVER...the naming conventions have been wiped to an arbitrary "file000986.[ext]" type. I guess I'll peek through and see what I still need. Any recommendations on a good, free folder/file syncing app for Mac?
    – bmoneruxui
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 15:42
  • How much data do you need to store? And what kind of syncing (device to cloud, or device to device)? Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 18:41
  • Well I actually ended up buying Sync Folders Pro. So I have my regular Box Sync folder (now on my main drive) which is being synced to Box. And then SFP is copying files from the BS folder, to my external.
    – bmoneruxui
    Commented Aug 6, 2015 at 18:43

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