How to back up Google Drive
Google Drive is one of the primary benefits of a Google account. When you join up, you’ll receive 15GB of free storage, and it interacts with Gmail, Google Photos, and Google’s productivity tools, allowing you to edit documents, save and share files, and back up your photos directly to the cloud.
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However, what if you are without an internet connection and want data stored in Google Drive urgently? What happens if your access to a shared file that you require is revoked? Or what if the worst-case scenario occurs and Google destroys your data?
We’ll teach you how to keep an up-to-date duplicate of your Google Drive files kept locally, regardless of what happens up in the cloud.
1. Drive desktop client
The most straightforward way to ensure you always have the most up-to-date versions of your Google Drive files to hand is to use Google’s desktop client app, available for both PC and Mac.
Apart from storing a copy of your files on your Hard Drive in a dedicated Google Drive folder, another advantage of using the Drive client is that you can configure it so that any files you add to the folder will automatically sync to the cloud. You can make them accessible on any device that has Drive installed and via any web browser signed in to your Google account.
2. Download Drive
Before you decide to use this method, keep in mind that unless you specify otherwise, any changes you make to the contents of your local Drive folder are the mirror in the cloud – so if you delete a file on your Hard Drive, it gets deleted in Google Drive as well. But don’t worry, we’ll show you how you can turn this off.
To download the Drive desktop client:
- Open a web browser window and head over to the Google Tools website.
- Hover your mouse pointer over the Download button and select the version from the drop-down that applies to your platform.
- Click “Agree and download” to accept Google’s terms of service and start the download.
3. Install Drive
Once the installation package has finished downloading, double-click it and (if you’re on a Mac) drag it into your Applications folder or (on a PC) select the Program Files folder in which to install the client.
Once installed, launch Drive, and the app will ask you to sign in using your Google account credentials. Follow the above steps, and a dedicated Google Drive folder will be created in the root directory of your Hard Drive. Files added to this folder will automatically be synced to Google’s data centers as long as you have an internet connection.
4. Choose Sync options
The last screen in the installation procedure allows you to choose a custom location for your local Drive folder and set up your initial sync options. You can choose to sync either everything that goes into your local Drive folder or only individual subfolders.
You might choose selective sync if you want to work on local documents downloaded from Google Drive while preserving earlier versions in the cloud. Note that using this option means files in Google Drive which are not in a subfolder will always sync.
Also, to sync files that others have shared with you, you need to open the Google Drive web interface and drag files from the “Shared with me” folder into “My Drive.”
5. Advanced settings
You also have the opportunity to set Google Drive’s advanced options at this stage, such as any necessary proxy settings and bandwidth limits. For example, you might opt to throttle the download and upload speeds of Drive when it syncs in the background to prevent it from affecting the performance of other apps that depend on internet access.
You can also choose here whether to have Google Drive start on system startup, whether you want files to display their sync status in your local Drive folder, and if you’d like a Share link option to appear whenever you right-click a file in your Drive. Click “Apply” when done.
6. Other options
With your options all set, click “Start Sync,” and Google Drive will start downloading all your files from the cloud into your local Google Drive folder.
Note that Google Drive installs a menu bar item in OS X or an icon in the Windows Taskbar where you can change settings at any time and keep on top of file uploads and downloads. It also provides a convenient link to Google Drive on the web if you’d prefer to double-check that your files sync in the cloud.
You can disable syncing at any time by going to the Account settings in Preferences and selecting “Disconnect Account…” leaving you with a local archive of all your Google Drive files.
7. Use Google Takeout
Takeout is Google’s in-house tool that allows you to export account data from many different Google services, including Google Drive. It’s a great alternative solution if you want to create a one-time backup of your files and download them as a compressed archive.
Go to the Google Takeout website, and use the sliders to select what to include in your archive. Click “Select None” and then turn back on the Drive option to only have your Google Drive files. Once you’re done, click the Next button at the bottom of the list.
8. Download archive
The next screen lets you choose an archive format and a delivery method. The available sizes are .zip, .tgz, and .tbz, with .zip being the most common archive type for Mac and Windows platforms and .tgz and .tbz for Linux systems.
With your format selected, choose a delivery method. Takeout can add the archive to your Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive. To store the file locally, choose “Send download link via email” and click “Create Archive.” The link is sent to your Gmail inbox – open it and then click the Download button and drag the downloaded file to your external Drive.