Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How to REALLY move your Google Drive folder WITHOUT re-syncing or "not your original Google Drive" error

I've read article after article which was just a copy/paste of the flawed (read... BROKEN) directions provided by Google on how to "Move your Google Drive Folder".

THEY DON'T WORK (unless you're one of very few lucky people in which case you should go grab some lottery tickets).

If you follow the directions, you'll get an error about the new folder not being the original. Umm, isn't that the point of MOVING your folder? By definition, the new one isn't the old one even if it has all the same contents.

The problem and solution both lie in 2 files which you will find in the folder %userprofile%\AppData\Local\Google\Drive (for Windows anyway, not sure about other operating systems though I suspect the file names will match).

Those files are:

  • snapshot.db
  • sync_config.db

I can't give detailed instructions because the "fix" required hex editing these files and those directions will vary a bit but I use UEStudio (fantastic text/hex editor with syntax highlighting) and it has an ASCII find/replace option which I used to change my old path to the new.

The entire process was:
  1. Stop Google Drive Sync (right-click and Quit)
  2. Move the entire Google Drive folder (default is in Documents and Settings)
  3. Open each of the two files and do a find/replace from the old path to the new.
  4. Start Google Drive
  5. Be done (NO SYNC REQUIRED)
Why Google refuses to provide the action in the GUI after something like a year is beyond me and clearly isn't not difficult (sure, I may possess above average intelligence...) but this took me all of 5 minutes to accomplish once I had been enlightened to the AppData files for Drive (by another rather crude if not erroneous article).

I really do hope this will help a significant number of people out there. If it helps you, PLEASE share this article using the following link and do it on all the Google Drive support boards so that others can find it and Google will see it also.

http://goo.gl/q9Ehgr <-- Share this article using this link please so I can do tracking to show Google

Related: Recent issue I had, Google wouldn't resolve and I figured out myself. "Google Drive Failure Comes to a Head ... Read More"

UPDATE 2014-04-07: After researching other sync-app solutions, I've discovered one that seems to address the 3 most significant issues I've had with every other sync solution out there.
  1. Not having to re-download files that are already up-to-date (or at least REALLY close)
  2. Syncing folders that don't exist in the "Google Drive" folder OR syncing all the folders you want and NOT the ones you don't.
  3. Moving your "Google Drive" root folder (less significant in light of points #1 and #2) without having to redownload everything.
I've tried a good number of solutions and am on the verge of developing my own anyway because I think I can still make a more responsive and efficient client with plenty of options, but in the meantime, for my own purposes I am using SyncDocs. I have more than 140,000 files and roughly 70GB to manage right now (growing daily) for business purposes so Google Drive Sync didn't work for me. For starters it is a 32bit client and crashes during initial sync (or random re-downloads). This is a confirmed issue from a senior engineer on the Drive team that I've been in touch with.

If you're interested in a premium client that has real flexibility, a good UI, will allow you to seed with existing files, is fast, and efficient at syncing, please comment below. I'm considering a Kickstarter project to help make a final determination of whether I should move forward and how aggressively I should do so. If I move forward, I will be doing a proper beta program (REAL beta meaning I will actively engage to collect feedback, correct issues, update the client, etc..), provide multiple levels of backing which will dictate the level of support beyond beta, featureset, licensing (if I don't go perpetual), etc..

I will also use surveys to get a feel for what is most wanted, needed and what people might be interested in paying for.

Comment below to let me know your thoughts and interest.

UPDATE 2017-04-06: It's been nearly 4 years since my original post, 3 since my last update, and almost 1 since this topic was an issue for me. Somewhere along the way the Drive Sync client was given a registry-controlled feature to help the Sync client recognize existing files rather than ONLY recognizing files synced by the Drive Sync client. In recent history (I'm not sure, but I'd estimate 3 months ago) that feature has been turned on by default so now (in theory), you should just be able to point the client at a folder during setup, and it will merge the contents with Drive, identifying existing files when it's reasonable rather than creating duplicates.

tl;dr: This shouldn't be an issue anymore if you're on a current sync client and Google auto-updates them so you should be.