Google Drive is an online and offline file syncing service, but what happens when the syncing stops working?
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General G Suite Errors
These are general application errors (referenced from this Google support page); see later in this article for errors specific to file syncing.
- Error: ‘An unknown issue occurred and Google Drive needs to quit’
- Solution: sign in/out and then try accessing your files again.
- Error: ‘Temporary Error (502)’: a long way to say try accessing your files again in a few minutes;
- Solution: After that time, click on a different section of Google Drive to refresh the files (e.g. “All Items”).
- Error: ‘Your Google Drive folder is missing’: the Google Drive app uses a specific folder on your computer; this error occurs when you move, rename or delete that folder.
- Solution: Click ‘Locate Folder’ when prompted if you moved/renamed the folder; if you deleted the folder, disconnect from Google Drive; you’ll be prompted to choose a new folder when you sign in again.
- Error: ‘The Google Drive server encountered an error’: this means the app is unable to connect to Google’s servers
- Solution: Click to retry connecting when prompted.
- Error: Google Drive quits without warning.
- Solution: You’ll want to update your version of Google Drive if this happens more than once; download it from drive.google.com.
1. Check Google Drive’s Status
Though Google prides itself on its uptime, it isn’t unknown for its services to go down. It happened a couple of months ago with Google Drive, leaving users across Europe and South America unable to access their files through the online service.
If you have file upload problems, the first thing you should check is Google Drive’s status. There’s no point trying to resolve the problem if it isn’t on your end!
To do this, simply go to Google’s Status Dashboard. This lists out all of their services and tells you if there are any service disruptions or outages. It can also be worth checking other sites like Down Detector and Outage.Report, where users report issues and it tracks those submissions on a map.
If Google Drive is down, all you can do is sit it out and wait. If it isn’t, keep reading for some troubleshooting tips.
2. Check Your Network
The next thing to do is check that the problem doesn’t lie with your internet connection.
If you’re on Windows 10, press Windows key + I to open Settings and click Network & Internet. This screen will tell you if you’re connected and through what method.
If you suspect there are problems, click Network troubleshooter. This wizard will automatically detect problems and attempt to resolve them.
If you’re on Mac, open the Network Utility using Spotlight or find it within Applications > Utilities. This will tell you the status of your connection and let you figure out if it’s sending and receiving data.
3. Disable Antivirus and Firewall
If you’re using antivirus software or have a firewall, try turning these off to see if your files then start syncing. You might need to first restart your computer for the changes to take effect.
Windows 10 comes with Windows Defender activated by default. To turn this off, press Windows key + I to open Settings. Go to Update & Security > Windows Defender > Open Windows Defender Security Center.
Once here, go to Firewall & Network Protection. Select your active network and slide Windows Defender Firewall to On.
4. Restart Backup and Sync
It’s the age-old troubleshooting tip, but it does often work. Try restarting the Backup and Sync client to see if this resolves the issues. To do this, click the Backup and Sync icon in your system tray. Click the Settings icon (three vertical dots) and click Quit Backup and Sync. Finally, reopen the utility.
If this didn’t work, try restarting your system entirely. Windows 10 users can do that by going to Start > Power > Restart and Mac users can go to Apple menu > Restart.
5. Reconnect Your Account
You can try disconnecting and reconnecting your Google account. Note that this will mean all your files have to resynchronize, so this could take some time.
Click the Backup and Sync icon in your system tray. Click the Settings icon (three vertical dots) and click Preferences… In the left-hand menu, go to Settings > Disconnect account > Disconnect. Once it’s completed, click Got it.
Now click the Backup and Sync system tray icon again. Click Sign in and follow the wizard through to reconnect your account.
6. Reinstall Backup and Sync
If you’re still not having any luck, try reinstalling Backup and Sync. To do this, head to Google Drive online, click the Settings icon in the top right (cog wheel), and select Download Backup and Sync.
This will ensure you’re getting the most recent version of the program. Open it up, progress through the wizard, and select Yes when asked if you want to replace your current version.
During the installation, you can choose your Google Drive folder and then resynchronize all your files.
An alternative approach is to remove the program from your system first, then redownload it using the steps above. This is better suited for when you know you already have the most recent version.
7. Rename Your File
If your file contains characters like <, >, /, \, ? or * then get rid of them. Depending on your operating system these shouldn’t be allowed anyway, but sometimes a program may erroneously insert them into their file names. In fact, rename the file entirely and only use letters and numbers. See if this pushes the file through.
If that doesn’t work, and it’s possible to do so, save your file in a different format. Google Drive might be getting held up on something in the original format, so this is a good test.
8. Clear the Cache
The Google Drive cache on your phone or desktop is useful because it makes files load faster, but it can also cause a few unexplained problems. Files may not sync or some of them may not open in your browser. Some problems that remain unsolved with the above steps can be resolved by clearing the cache.
- Open Chrome.
- From your browser toolbar, click the icon with the three dots > More Tools > Clear Browsing Data.
- In the Clear browsing data box, click the checkboxes for Cookies and other site data and other site data and Cached images and files.
- Use the menu at the top to select the amount of data that you want to delete. Choose the beginning of time to delete everything. (This option does not appear on all devices.)
- Click Clear browsing data.
Tips to Avoid Errors and Data Loss
The suggested remedies for Google Drive errors are for fixing the errors but not recovering your lost data; the unfortunate truth is that it’s often impossible. This is especially true if you were working on something and Google Drive unexpectedly quit. Worse, if you deleted a file or saved unwanted changes, Google Drive synchronizes those changes – that’s why it’s not a substitute for a real cloud to cloud backup. Follow these tips to help keep your data safe:
- Save your data frequently
- If you open up a file to make changes, first make a copy so you can go back to the original if need be
- Always keep a secure backup of your data in a separate location
Did These Steps Solve Your Problem?
Have you experienced problems with syncing on Google Drive? How did you overcome them?
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