Accessibility statement

Action needed if you use Google Drive File Stream

Posted on 17 January 2018

We have identified potential problems if you use Google Drive File Stream to sync your Google Drive to your PC. To protect your documents, you need to take action.

The problem we have identified is that if anything goes wrong (eg if your computer crashes), there is no way to roll back changes. This will cause difficulties in two scenarios:

  1. If a PC (including a home or unmanaged PC) running Google Drive File Stream is infected with ransomware, it will then encrypt all the files in Google Drive to which it has access. Previous versions could be recovered but the file and folder structure would be lost.
  2. If the tool corrupts data in any way due to a crash, or if a folder is deleted by accident, the changes cannot be reverted, all files are removed from their enclosing folders, and there is insufficient detail in the logs for admins to revert all changes reliably. Files the user owns are sent to Trash, other files are removed from their parent folder, leaving them orphaned and difficult to find. Once the files are in the Trash in Google Drive they lose all sharing permissions and are removed from folders.

Google Drive File Stream does not support selective sync, so you cannot tell it to only sync a single folder.

What are we doing?

We have discussed this issue with Google, and are deploying Google Backup and Sync instead, which does allow for the synchronisation of only specific folders - see the link below for more information.

What do you need to do?

If you have access to large numbers of shared Google Drive items, we strongly recommend that you do not continue using Google Drive File Stream, that you log out of the app and move to using Backup and Sync (see below). For other cases, we recommend that you consider carefully whether you wish to continue using Google Drive File Stream bearing in mind the issues above. If you're switching to using Backup and Sync instead, we provide advice on how to do this:

If you only use Google Drive on the web, this won't affect you. However, if you're not sure whether this applies to you, please discuss it with your Departmental Computing Officer, or email