Google Drive offers possible fix for missing files, but isn't guaranteed

in General Discussion

Google Drive users have a path to recover missing files from the service, but it isn't foolproof, requires local storage, and may need a trip to the command line interface.

Google Drive
Google Drive

In November, users began complaining that months of files began disappearing from Google Drive. A fix has finally arrived, but it isn't as simple as updating the app.

The fix was first shared by The Verge, and is available with detailed instructions from a Google support page.

The support page states that a subset of users running Google Drive on desktop, specifically version 84, may have experienced issues accessing local files that had yet to be synced to Drive. This statement doesn't seem to be in line with claims that months of data was missing from the service, unless for some reason those users also hadn't synced their data for months.

Regardless, Google claims to have a fix. First, update to the latest version of Google Drive for Windows or macOS.

After updating, run the recovery tool:

  1. Open the Drive for desktop app.

  2. In the menu bar or system tray, click the Drive for desktop icon.

  3. Press and hold the Shift key and click Settings.

  4. Click Recover from backups.

If everything works as expected, you'll get a message that "recovery has started" then "recovery is complete." A new folder will show up with unsynced files named "Google Drive Recovery."

The system could return a "no backups found" message, or "not enough disk space" message that requires further actions.

For those without enough disk space, Google simply says to free up the required disk space and try again. Those who see other errors or "no backups found" will need to submit feedback through the app with the hashtag #DFD84 and include diagnostic logs.

An alternative path to recovery

If freeing up disk space isn't an option, then users can select a different volume to save the lost files to. This requires using the command line.

Google Drive still needs to be on the latest version, so before proceeding, make sure it is up to date.

  1. Quit Drive for desktop.

  2. On Windows, open a command prompt, or on macOS, open Terminal.

  3. Run the command for your respective operating system.

  • For Windows: C:\Program Files\Google\Drive File Stream\launch.bat"

  • For macOS: "/Applications/Google Drive"

The tool will run in the background on Windows and in the foreground on macOS. When complete, a file called "Google Drive Recovery" will be saved to the desktop.

Method 3: restore from backup

If these methods fail, Google has one last ditch effort -- search for previous file versions. If a user disconnected their account or removed the Drive app cache, it could have created the lost data issue.

In order for this method to be possible, users will need to have a Windows backup or Time Machine for macOS active. Otherwise there won't be data to recover.

On Windows:

  1. Open the following directory in Explorer: %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Google.

  2. Right click on DriveFS -> Properties -> Previous Versions tab.

  3. If a previous version is available, select the latest version before the Drive for desktop account was disconnected. Then click the dropdown next to the [Restore] button and select [Restore to ...]

  4. Select a destination folder and save the DriveFS directory there.

  5. The restored DriveFS folder can now be used to recover Drive files using the command line interface method described in the previous section.

On macOS:

  1. Open a new Finder window.

  2. In the menu bar at the top of the screen open the "Go" menu and click "Go to Folder".

  3. Copy and paste the following into the box ~/Library/Application Support/Google/DriveFS.

  4. Follow the steps at Restore items backed up with Time Machine on Mac - Apple Support to restore any folders with 21-digit names that have been deleted.

  5. Proceed with the steps to use the Drive recovery tool to recover your files.

As we shared before, if any of these methods fail and files are still missing, users will need to file feedback through the app. Google also suggests contacting support directly if issues persist.

Read on AppleInsider


  • Reply 1 of 3
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,777member
    Why does anyone use Google services? They apparently can't even be trusted to hold on to your data. They probably sold it to the highest bider like they do everything else. 
  • Reply 2 of 3
    jdwjdw Posts: 1,307member
    Who does the file-loss bug impact?  I only ever access files via Safari on my Macs.  I never use an "app."  Does that mean I should not need to worry about file loss?  Is the issue one that only pertains to an app bug?
  • Reply 3 of 3
    jdw said:
    Who does the file-loss bug impact?  I only ever access files via Safari on my Macs.  I never use an "app."  Does that mean I should not need to worry about file loss?  Is the issue one that only pertains to an app bug?
    Unless you use Google Cloud (free or at a fee for more storage), you are most likely not impacted.  I think you get free storage with the purchase of an Android phone, Chromebook/ChromeBox... It is something you would have to setup.  If you have a Gmail account, you may also have Google Drive, and maybe a few other things that come along for the ride.  Google Drive is a competitor to iCloud.  Believe (at least in the past) you could have a Gmail account with a small amount of storage without buying anything.  I have a Gmail account that I use to receive junk mail (well, a good deal also goes to my iCloud account).  There are likely similar offerings from Amazon (for Amazon Web Services) and Microsoft (for Azure), Dropbox, Box, and a bunch of other cloud storage services (some free, some carry a subscription fee).  

    As with anything computer related, often the most error-prone part sits between the chair and the keyboard, both at the user end, and at the service provider.  
    edited December 2023
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