Have You Ever Lost Files From Google Drive?

James Wallace Harris 2/28/22

I’ve been using Google drive for years and years and always felt safe doing so. Over the past two years, I’ve had two spreadsheet files get corrupted. In both cases, I was printing them when part of the data was lost. It appeared that data that wasn’t in the print area was just removed.

In both cases, I tried to use the file version utility to get back to an early stage, and in both cases, it failed. I figured, what the heck, just don’t try to print from Google sheets, but download a copy and import it into Excel to print.

I told a friend about this, and he said he’s never had trouble with files on Google Drive. I figured my two incidents were just weird printing flukes. Then today that friend texted me and said Google Drive lost two of his files – just gone. Both were notes about a programming project that he spent weeks collecting. Ouch. Now I’m worried.

Google doesn’t offer tech support, at least that I can see for free personal accounts. There is a fair amount of documentation offering help. Basically, it suggests using the version control feature for corrupted files, and the undelete feature of the Trash. Even though I worked on my last spreadsheet for a couple hours, there were only two versions – a blank 11:35am version, and a corrupted 1:31pm version. I tried all kinds of things. I downloaded a .csv version to see if the data was hidden. I tried cutting and pasting to a new worksheet. I ended up importing the .csv file into Excel and retyping the deleted data.

Now, you might ask if I have Excel, why am I using Google Sheets? I just like Sheets, and I assumed by putting something in my Google Drive it would be safe. That Google would back things up, and keep plenty of versions.

And it’s also true, I’ve had corrupted files over the decades using Microsoft Office. Nothing is perfect. I used Google Drive because sometimes I like to share files, but mostly because it’s convenient, and I assumed such a tech giant would always protect my files better than I could.

Now, I’m wondering if corrupt or lost files on Google Drive are very common. Has it happened to you?

If I can’t trust Google Drive I’ll have to stop using it for creating files. I’ll do my work offline and then upload anything I need to share. In retrospect, I should have been saving my Google Drive files to a local drive before printing or doing any major reformatting or global calculations. I should have known better since I was in tech support for decades and I now remember all the times people came to me with corrupted files or lost files that happened after printing.


4 thoughts on “Have You Ever Lost Files From Google Drive?”

  1. i’ve never lost any drive files either on my ipad or chromebox. i keep some of my ipad files “available offline” for access when i’m away from wifi. maybe doing this to all your files would protect you from the drive server screwing up.

    1. That’s a good idea. But it also makes me think that with all the sharing and syncing features Google offers, it’s probably easier for it to corrupt or lose a file.

  2. Note: No need to clutter the web with my possibly inaccurate suggestion. Feel free not to publish this comment, especially if it’s not helpful.

    With so many possible configurations / versions of Google Drive, my suggestion may not reflect your setup at all. For me, as a Windows user, Google Drive sets up an entirely new local drive – G: in my case. In Google Drive preferences I have it set to “Mirror files” rather than “Stream files” so a local copy of everything on my Google Drive is created.

    I believe that when you select “Mirror files” you are prompted to give a local folder location to store your files. I store them in C:\xyz for example. While they’ll also appear on the automatically created G: drive, it’s the C: location that is most useful because standard backup programs can access that folder normally. I’ve found that some backup programs cannot easily access the G: drive because it’s a virtual drive and not a physical drive.

    The C:\xyz location is backed up in my normal backup procedures which allows me to go back a week, month, etc. to get older non-corrupted files if necessary.

    BTW, I’ve never experience a corrupted Google Drive file. Until I typed that sentence most likely. 🙂

    Good luck and feel free to reach out if I can clarify.

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