Google releases fix for missing Drive for desktop files

Just install the latest client and follow the instructions, but don't ask questions

Google has released an updated version of the Google Drive app for Windows and macOS that, along with some simple manual work, should resolve missing file issues.

A help page was published by Google yesterday that includes steps to resolve issues with missing files for "the small subset" of Drive for desktop users it said were experiencing the glitch. Per the company, affected users should install the latest version of Drive for desktop, which should be version or newer.

Once installed, Google said users should run the app, click the Drive for desktop button in their menu bar or system tray, and while holding the Shift key, they should click Settings, where "Recover from backups" should appear. Click that to start the recovery process. 

Users should then see a notification saying that recovery has started, followed by recovery being complete, though be prepared to wait. Any files and folders that are recovered will show up in a new desktop folder (i.e. not in your locally synced Google Drive space) titled Google Drive Recovery.

Google asks anyone with problems recovering their files to submit feedback through the Drive desktop app labeled with the hashtag #DFD84, and with diagnostic logs included.

For those who want more granular control over their Drive file recovery, Google also included steps for how to recover files via the command line. Instructions are additionally included for those who may have disconnected their account or removed their local Drive cache in a bid to solve the problem on their own, but those are limited to using restoration from Windows backups or macOS Time Machine. If you didn't do that, tough luck – at least per Google's instructions.

So what went wrong?

For anyone lucky enough not to have suffered from the spate of missing files that hit Google Drive users starting last month, users began reporting the issue in late November. Posters to Google's help pages said their Google Drive suddenly seemed to revert to its appearance as far back as six months prior with no indication as to what had happened, or why.

The glitch only affected Google Drive users syncing files between their local machines and the cloud, according to Google, which gave little explanation aside from "don't mess with things until we figure this out."

Google said on its recovery instructions page that the issue affected Drive for desktop v84.0.0.0 to and involved "accessing local files that had yet to be synced to Drive," but that's not much by way of an explanation.

The release notes from Google don't include anything for version 85, so it's not entirely clear what went wrong there either. We've asked for more info, and will update this story if we hear back. ®

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