Saturday, February 9, 2013

The disaster that is Google Drive

My wife is a smart lady. Not particularly interested in technology, but no luddite either. She recently signed up with Google Drive so that pictures and videos of our kids could be backed up online.

Big mistake.

Files mysteriously go missing from our home computer's LOCAL folders (i.e. the folder of images and videos she wants to sync). In fact many of the local folders were empty! Some have strange duplicates (for example, a "Pictures" and a "Pictures(1)" folder). This was quite a shock when she first discovered it -- "Google Drive is deleting the precious files I want to backup!!!". Looking into it, we discovered that other people have had the same problem.

We were able to find some of our 'missing' files in the "Trash" on our local PC. This caused us even more alarm, because we still lost a lot of really precious stuff from our local computer. So what this meant for us is that while we were able to go to Trash and recover some of the files, we lost many of them. My wife also assured me she wasn't doing anything strange like moving stuff around and deleting stuff while trying to back it up.

This seems really bizarre behaviour for a cloud storage solution. It should never delete stuff from your local computer for you. Or perhaps there are a few cases where it should (if you have manually deleted those items on another computer that syncs with your drive account), but if it does, it should be really careful about it. My wife didn't do anything to suggest to Google Drive that it should delete those items.


So, in panic we shut off Google Drive on our home computer and went to the web interface to see what was there. Alarmingly, all the folders we looked at were empty! Real panic stations now... but looking at our usage, we found that we were using ~20GB of Drive storage. Digging a little further, I discovered that I could click on the (hard to find) "All Items" link on the web interface and we could see everything that was uploaded (actually I think this means that it was moved to the online Google Drive Trash, but online Trash fortunately has to be emptied manually). I manually downloaded these (the interface to do this is terrible, as an added bonus, and you can only download in 2GB chunks). End result is that I think I've recovered our stuff. But the first thing I will do when I've confirmed that I've recovered everything is delete our Google Drive account and sign up with Box or DropBox or someone (anyone!) else.


Note that I am a big user of Google products, and I'm generally pretty disposed to liking Google: my work uses gmail for corporate email, I use it for my personal email, share videos via youtube, and so on. Heck this blog is run by Google. But Drive has been a massive headache for us.

Thinking of using Google Drive? Just dont do it.

9 comments:

Tiago said...

Many web pages are unreliable, specially the free versions, we have to take care of that. A friend of mine who is one of the best real estate agents in his town got tired of having this problems, so he
decided to pay a suscription in one of this pages to storage information and solved the problem. It may be the only choice

Ruby Badcoe said...

I'm personally using Google Drive and I haven't experienced this yet. I don't know what happened to your Google Drive, but it's working perfectly fine on my end. Using it made my life easier! I'm so amazed with all the products that Google is releasing!

Doug Leven said...

Thanks for the warning, Peter! Although I do have a Google Drive account for work purposes, I use Dropbox as a backup storage for my personal files. Most of my pictures are uploaded in Facebook or in Photobucket so I have no problem in losing them in my hard drive. I recommend you do the same now that you have somehow recovered your files before it goes missing again.

Doug Leven

Georg Jiří Überall said...

I know exactly what your wife did. Towards the end of the Google drive setup procedure, she activated selective folder sync, thinking the app would ONLY upload these selected folders. However, this is not how the function works. Selective sync determines which folders should be DOWNLOADED from the cloud. Now, if there are no files in these folders online, google deletes what's stored locally to duplicate that state. This is incredibly dangerous and I have no words to express my anger.

Dominic said...

I think the title ' The disaster that is Google Drive ' sums up the Drive service very well... Unfortunately, other Google applications as well...

Right now I am dealing with finding & eliminating duplicate files. Some are downloading / synchronizing all of there files to their local drive, then running a duplicate file finder. 30 gigs of data, really ?

Yasin Hamid said...

I had different problem. I decided to backup my document to GoogleDrive. So I copied them into folder created for them. Now I realized that google uloaded them and then downloaded and aadded (1) to their names, generaly wasting all my mobile data plan and leaving no space on my local hard drive :-(

What a nightmare.

pokurtek said...

I had similar problems a couple of times recently and those were my really precious documents that i was working on them for weeks. GD really sucks and i cant understand how cant they fix it yet...

Stanley Wang said...

My documents disappeared from Google drive today 12/11/2014!!!

Roxanne Gilbert said...

I will never be using Google drive again...all of my photos and videos were deleted today...1/2/2016
But google drive decided that all my folders were worth keeping?!?! Stupid!!! My fiancé (who is a Network Administrator) can't find them either....both of us are very disappointed with Google Drive