Google Drive, Backup and Sync, and Drive File Stream

Reviewed by bil hays 2019.06.25

Please note, Google Backup and Sync is the primary method we recommend for backing up data on your workstation. If you want another method for local backups, please contact help and we’ll see what we can work out.

For Mac and Windows users there are lots of ways to access files in Google Drive. You can work with document through the browsers or use the Drive App (recently revamped as Backup and Sync) to sync files in a local drive folder to google’s cloud. The new Backup and Sync app also lets you choose folders to backup to the cloud. While this is not the only thing you should do to backup your files, it is certainly a good thing to do.

This year Google also introduced Team Drives, which function as file servers–a team can have a folder, and team members can share and access files and folder there, based on group permission. If your group would like access to a team drive, please send email to help@cs.unc.edu. Team Drives do not show up in your Google Drive folder, but are visible in the browser interface.

If backup and sync doesn’t suit your needs, you can use Google Drive File Stream instead. With this software does you can mount your Team Drive and your Google Drive space just like a regular file server.

What about linux users? There are some options.

  • rclone, which uses Google’s API to create a link to Google’s cloud. It also supports lots of other cloud services, so it’s a nice tool for folks who use lots of different could services. It does not provide automatic syncing for directly makes, so it’s more like using rsync over ssh to move files back and forth.
  • We do not recommend mounting google drive to the Ubuntu Nautilus file browser, it has issues. We recommend using the Google Chrome web application to copy files or folders to your google drive.
  • GoSync is a python script that will sync folders to Google’s cloud every ten minutes, this may be a good option for making backups to Google Drive.
  • Not free, Insync is a cross platform syncing client that supports linux, macs, and windows. $29.99 is the one time license fee for the current version, and you get unlimited installs to set up syncing to one google account. It offers more features than any of the free methods listed above.
  • If you use gnome, gnome accounts have partial sync and can mount google drive.

If none of these options fits your or your team’s workflow, please let us know by sending email to help@cs.unc.edu.