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Community Member

freelancer deleted her google docs after she got terminated


we worked with a freelancer for 7 months, and she got terminated a month ago. Now, we found that she deleted most of her google documents that she shared with us and got paid for. 

we need to have access to these docs. please help

(we have a backup, we need the original ones) 

Community Member


Very sorry to hear about this.

But Upwork doesn't have your Google documents.


Have you asked her if she has a copy of the documents that she can send you?

If this is YOUR Google server or account, have you tried contacting Google Support?


And I don't want to seem indelicate or obnoxious, but I'll ask the question that everyone reading this is wondering:


Why is this an issue?


As a client, I have hired over 180 freelancers. They have produced a lot files for me. When they send me a file or do any work for me, I immediately archive that work to private locations that the freelancers don't have access to. I certainly don't expect the freelancer to maintain access to the documents. And I wouldn't think to ask a freelancer who no longer works for me to provide me with something.


In fact: Upwork ToS actually asks freelancers to DELETE all of a client's files from their own accounts and computers after a contract is over.


Screen Shot 2023-02-08 at 4.16.59 PM.png




Maybe the freelancer was worried that she would get in trouble if she didn't delete the Google documents once she was terminated.

(Note that this clause can EASILY BE MISINTERPRETED, and has been misinterpreted many times by people discussing it in the Community Forum. But the basic point is: Upwork clients don't expect freelancers to keep their Google Docs or other files.)

thank you so much. 
this applies to the MATERIAL a client shares with the freelancer, like a college student sharing their dissertation and asking for editing/proofreading. then, yes, the freelancer has to delete such materials. 

but here, we're talking about the "product" that we requested and paid her for and not material/resources we provided. 

But your interpretation of that clause does not really matter. And neither does mine.


The freelancer may have never even read that clause saying that freelancers should delete client materials after the contract has been terminated. She may have simply deleted it because she was done working for you.


It is useful to understand that the freelancer has not violated any Upwork rules. But it is even more useful to find out if she has a copy. Or if Google has a copy. Or if anyone else on the team has a copy.


The important thing is that you are looking for work done by the freelancer.

You should have it, but you say that you don't have it.


Upwork doesn't have it.


Have you tried asking the freelancer if she has a copy?

Yes...the "product" is what's known as a "deliverable"--clearly included in the highlighted clause.

Community Member

I'm sorry to hear about the situation with your freelancer. This is a violation of Upwork's policy and could be a potential data breach. I would suggest reaching out to Upwork's Support team as soon as possible to report the issue. They have the tools and resources to help you resolve this situation. In the meantime, it's also a good idea to check your backups and see if you have any copies of the deleted documents.


Best of luck in resolving this situation!

re: "This is a violation of Upwork's policy"


But... it is not a violation of any Upwork policy.


re: "and could be a potential data breach."


But... there is no indication that there was a data breach.


re: "I would suggest reaching out to Upwork's Support team as soon as possible to report the issue."


What are they supposed to do?

It would be a good idea to refrain from giving this sort of advice if you don't actually have the relevant information. 


For example, before saying "this is a violation of Upwork's policy," ask yourself "What specific provision of Upwork's policy can I point to that says I have to keep client files forever after my contract ends?" When you find no answer to that question, you can refrain from giving that inaccurate information to another user.


Hi Sarah,


Thank you for your message. I am sorry to hear about your experience with the freelancer. I shared your report with our team and one of our agents will reach out to you using a support ticket to assist you further. You can access your support tickets here .


Thank you,



This isn't really about a freelancer. This is about a client.

The freelancer did the work that she was paid for. The freelancer already shared the work with the client.

The client has lost the work or failed to ever archive the work or store it anywhere.

Community Member

I'm with Preston. The freelancer is no way at fault for deleting her copies of the work. Now, it is possible that she did so in retaliation for being fired - which is unprofessional - since she knew that by doing so she destroyed your link to the original files. But like Preston said, the fact that you didn't make any separate backups was just really poor data practice on your part.


Take this as a learning opportunity and focus on changing your company's data protection practices so that you never have this issue again.

Community Member

hehe well, if she deleted them they might be gone. It's reasonable to expect that she wouldn't keep a copy forever. She should give them to you and let you keep the content, but if after a month you didn't take a copy, that's not really on her to keep a copy, eh? I would keep a copy but I'm not your average freelancer.

Community Member

I keep them too, but here storage is almost free. In Asian countries that is not the case.

Sounds like they should be charging for that then but again I'm not the same type of freelancer than these people. But also this client really shouldn't have expected someone to save their doc at all after the contract ended let alone a month. The freelancer should have given them the docs, and I save stuff even if the client is a screamer. I like to save them to see if the client ever uses them, and sometimes they do.


We can talk about blah blah professionalism but this is randos on the internet with no money apparently to pay for storage space if it's so expensive so damage control is important.

Community Member

Client had access to the docs. They simply never saved independent copies.

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