Why I’ve stopped using Google Drive

Google DriveI’ve been relying on Google Drive to handle my cloud-based file storage for several years. Recently I switched all my files over to Dropbox. This is why. I work on multiple machines. Typically my Windows 7 PC and a Linux netbook. I recently added a MacBook into the mix, with some shared folders.

I’ve always found Google’s file sharing a bit ‘clunky’ and the reality on the Mac proved to be even worse. I created a shared folder on my PC, which I then dropped a whole load of files into from my MacBook. It didn’t take me long to realize that online Google Drive was showing empty folders where there were lots of (important) files in the folders on my Mac. I’ve been around the block and seen this sort of behavior in software before, so I immediately anticipated the worst. I quickly made a copy of all the folders that Google Drive was sharing. Sure enough, the next time I turned the MacBook on, Google Drive emptied the files from the shared folders. Every single last one of them.

Back-ups are important, and I cannot afford to have any doubt about them working, so I took the decision to stop using Google Drive. It took several hours to upload all my files to Dropbox. I now have a lot more confidence that the files will not disappear without warning. Syncing between the MacBook and PC is working well – just the way I’d expect it to.

After the unnerving experience of watching all my files disappear (even though I knew I’d made copies) it would take a lot to convince me to go back to Google Drive. The problem seemed to be only with the Mac version of Google Drive, which consistently says it has synced everything, when by opening the folders online you can clearly see it hasn’t. It only seems to properly sync when the machine is first turned on. Googling the issue pulls up quite a lot of results, indicating I’m not the first person to encounter this problem.

Another advantage I discovered with Dropbox, is, that the paid for ‘Dropbox Pro’ offers a versioning feature that gives you to access previous versions of files. A great facility should your machine ever be hijacked by ransom-ware.

[updated May 17, 2014 to clarify the encountered problem]

2 thoughts on “Why I’ve stopped using Google Drive

  1. Mary Scaletta

    What?!?! Your files really disappeared on Google Drive?!?! And Google Drive doesn’t have a way to access old deleted files like Dropbox does?!?! I was about to switch over to Google Drive completely but you are making me rethink that.

    1. Gary Post author

      To be clear. It was in a very specific circumstance, which I would not expect most people to encounter. I created a shared folder on my PC, and then populated that folder with files from my MacBook. For some unknown reason the Mac version of Google Drive failed to upload the files, even though it said it had completed syncing. It was checking for the files online that alerted me to the problem and prompted me to make copies.

      If you accidentally delete a file on Google Drive, you can recover it from trash – just like with Windows. However as Google drive never copied the files in the first place, when it synced the files they seemed to just disappear from the MacBook – they may have been moved to the trash – but as I had copies I didn’t bother checking.

      So, this is a Google Drive on the Mac issue. I’ve used Google Drive on the PC for many years with no problems. However, as I now swap between the Mac and the PC I’ve decided that I can’t rely on Google Drive. I’ll check the original article text and re-emphasize those points – thanks.


What do you think?