Solve Google Drive Sync errors


The Google Drive app can be installed on a Windows PC or Apple Mac and this creates a folder on the local disk drive that is a mirror image of your online storage space. It saves having to up and download files through the browser. Just drag one or more files or folders to the Google Drive folder and the app will upload them in the background to keep online and offline copies in sync. What if something goes wrong though?

Sync problems are rare, but they do occur and sometimes a file cannot be uploaded from the Google Drive folder on the computer to your online Drive storage space. How do you know when something has gone wrong?

To see if there are any problems with syncing files, right click the Google Drive icon in the taskbar in Windows. Here you can see that there is one file that cannot be synced:

 Google DRive cannot sync

Clicking the menu link opens a window that displays the error. It tells you the name and location of the file, and the reason why it cannot be synced. Is the reason always right? It is in this case, although it may not be in every case, so investigate the file and try to figure out what is wrong.

 Google Drive error message

This is not the only way to find out if there are sync problems and files and folders have a green tick on them in Explorer windows. Anything with a red cross is a sync error. You can see the problem folder here:

 Google Drive sync error in Explorer

It is not the whole folder that is faulty and any error, even with a single file, causes its containing folder to show the sync error red cross, so drill down through the folders to the faulty file.

In my case, something had gone wrong with syncing a Google Doc file. Documents are always stored online and what appears in the Google Drive folder on the local disk drive is just a web link to open a browser, which then opens the online document for editing.

In my case it looks like the document no longer existed online and the web link in the local Drive therefore pointed to a file that did not exist. This may have happened when a folder was dragged out of Google Drive and stored elsewhere on the disk drive. This stops it from being synced. I must have deleted the online document at some point, then dragged the folder back into the Google Drive folder. The link then pointed to a non-existent file.

You should not move the Google Docs files out of the Google Drive folder on the local disk drive. The file was no longer online so I just deleted the file on the PC to fix the problem.

 Solve Google Drive sync error

Generally though, you should try restarting the computer to fix Google Drive errors. This closes the app and opens it again. When the computer starts up, Drive will attempt to sync, hopefully clearing the error.

If it persists, try renaming the file. The filing system used by Google online may be different to the filing system used on your computer’s disk drive and the allowed and disallowed characters in filenames might be different.

A legal filename online might not be legal on the disk, or a disk filename might not be acceptable online. Typical disallowed characters include *, ?, <, >, /, \ and others. Stick to names, numbers, and a – dash or _ underline, but it varies from operating system to operating system.

If there is still a problem, load the file into a suitable program, such as a photo editor if it is an image file, and save it under a different name.

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2 Comments on Solve Google Drive Sync errors

  1. Tzu Fann Shao // 2015/12/23 at 12:31 // Reply

    Just beginning to use google drive.
    When I put “My Pictures” folder into the Google Drive folder on my PC, I ended with a huge number of sync errors. Could it be because I exceeded the 15GB free capacity limit?
    Would appreciate directing me to related answers.

  2. The My Pictures folder should not be moved because it is a Windows system folder, so if you have put it in the Google Drive folder, drag it back to where it was C:\Users\YourName.

    You can easily exceed the 15GB limit with photos because they take up a lot of space. Right click the My Pictures folder, select Properties and look at the size to see whether all your photos will fit on Google Drive. Click the Google Drive icon at the right side of the taskbar (it may be in that pop-up tray) and it says at the top how much space is used, such as ’10GB of 15GB used’. This will tell you if you have run out of space.

    Sync errors can also be caused by filenames that work in Windows, but don’t work online. Stick to letters and numbers for filenames.

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