Solve Google Drive problems and restore your files

Google provides 15GB of online storage and an office suite for creating documents. It is free, so it makes sense to use it, even if only for backing up a few files. What can you do when there is a problem? Here are a few suggestions.

Empty the Bin

Have you ever lost a file that was on Google Drive? There are two places to look and if you sync Google Drive with a folder on the computer’s disk drive, look in the Recycle Bin for the file. There is where Windows would put it if it was accidentally deleted. Google Drive would move it to the Bin.

The Bin is where all deleted and temporary files end up and it is never emptied. This means that it has a copy of every file you ever stored on it. That might be a scary thought for some people!

Go to drive.google.com and select the Bin on the left. The files are ordered by date with the newest first and the oldest last. You can move files out of the Bin to restore them. To empty the Bin and delete every file, click Bin just above the list of filenames and select Empty Bin.

You never know when you might need one of those deleted files in the Bin, so it is better to select and delete the oldest files. Scroll down the list of files until the date of the files are more than three months old. Click the file to select it, scroll right down to the bottom (or until you get bored if it is a long list – the Bin may never have been emptied before), and Shift+click a file. This selects all files between the first and the last. Now click Delete forever.

 Empty the Google Drive Bin

Solve sync problems

Sometimes Drive cannot sync your online storage with the Drive folder on the PC’s disk. It is rare, but occasionally it does happen. Click the Google Drive icon at the right side of the taskbar and look for a message about unsyncable files.

 Google Drive sync problems

Click it to open a window that lists the problem files. Click the Retry all button.

 Google Drive sync problems

If it is a file on disk, drag it out of the Drive folder, rename it to something simple, and then drag it back in. It should then sync. If it is a file that is online, rename it. Sometimes a filename is allow on the PC, but not online. A name might work online, but not on the PC. Renaming can help. Rebooting Windows might help too.

Move your Google Drive folder

There isn’t an option within the software to move the Google Drive sync folder. However, you can start again. Click the Drive icon at the right side of the taskbar, click the three dots in the top right corner to display the menu, and then select Preferences.

 Google Drive

Go to the Account tab and click Disconnect account. This breaks the link between the online storage and the folder. Now when you sign in and connect your account, you can choose the folder to sync and you can select a new one. The downside is that all your online files will download to the new folder. If you have 50GB in your Google Drive then 50GB of files will need to be downloaded, which could take quite a long time.

You are running out of space

Remember that the Bin is never emptied? Sounds like you need to empty it because the contents count against your Drive storage. There could be hundreds of megabytes or even gigabytes of files in there if you have never emptied it.

Select the Bin on the left, click Bin at the top and select Empty Bin in the menu.

What is using up all the space?

When space is running out, it is a good idea to delete the biggest files using up the most space, but where are they? Go down to the bottom left corner of the page and mouse over the storage. A box pops up showing Drive, Gmail and Google+ Photos usage. Click Drive and your files are listed in order with the biggest first and descending in size. This enables you to easily see the space hogs.

 Google Drive

Of course, it may not be files in Drive, but too many photos or emails.


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