Google Drive

Google Drive – Dropbox-alternative, some use


A Bit of Terminology

  • “What it means to mirror or stream your files”
    • mirror copies of files from local desktop to cloud, local disk space IS fully occupied
    • stream keeps references on local filesystem but actual content is only online in cloud, until one of:
      • opens and works with file – temporary copy is downloaded locally
      • mark file “Offline Access” > “Available offline”
  • “Switch from mirroring to streaming”
    • CANNOT use BOTH
    • And switching from mirroring to streaming will:
      • change location of files
        • create a volume that is mount,
          • where files with NOW reside
      • leave old mirroring copy that really should be removed, to avoid confusion and risk of working with old copies (that are not in mounted volume)
  • ‘Team Drives’ – old name
    • (2019) “The “Team Drives” feature of Google Drive will be renamed to “shared drives.” This will impact:”….
  • ‘Drive File Stream’ is now ‘Drive for desktop’.


A Bit Side-by-Side Comparison

Local FS Cache use du, Cmd+I
Backup and Sync 100% No Local FS
Google Drive Varies, below Varies, below Remote FS
 * My Drive (-“-)
    1. Mirror files 100% Yes (-“-)
    2. Stream files No normally Yes (Offline files) (-“-)
 * Shared drives No normally Yes (Offline files) (-“-)



Backup and Sync Google Drive for desktop
Use files in My Drive Yes Yes
Use files in shared drives No Yes
Sync only selected folders in My Drive* Yes Yes
Sync only individual files in My Drive* No Yes
Use native apps, like Microsoft Office & Photoshop Yes Yes
See who’s editing with real-time presence in Microsoft Office No Yes
Integrates with Microsoft Outlook, Meet scheduling No Yes
Sync other folders, like Documents or Desktop Yes No
Use with your personal Google Account, Yes Yes
Use with your work or school Google Account Yes Yes
Upload photos and videos to Google Photos Yes No

*With Google Drive for desktop, you can make selected files or folders ‘Available offline’ to sync them to your computer rather than an online stream.



Apple iOS Use

Another Google app to download… “Google Drive’ (download, in app store; simply ‘Drive’ as icon once installed; along with the already installed ‘Google Earth’, ‘Google Maps’, ‘Street View’, ‘Chrome’, ‘Google’, ‘Google Home’, ‘Google Photos’, ‘Gmail’, ‘Assistant’, and ‘Google Wi-Fi’… some cleaning is due….!)

Apple macOS Use

Command Line

Need to do more research… What – if any – command line interface tools that exists for working, checking status, … with items on Google Drive.

Recovery, Deleted Files, Versions

Status, Statuses, of File System Items

Need to do more research…

Using a Backup and Sync installation

Mirroring content from local file system into cloud.

Finder Right-Click Contextual Pop-up menu:

  • More limited Google Drive – options
  • No option for controlling Offline access, including no ‘Online only’

Using a Google Drive for desktop installation

A mounted volume, in comparison to mirroring of folders on local FS, drivefs:

mbp17:~ $ mount
/dev/disk1s1 on / (apfs, local, journaled)
devfs on /dev (devfs, local, nobrowse)
/dev/disk1s4 on /private/var/vm (apfs, local, noexec, journaled, noatime, nobrowse)
/dev/disk1s5 on /Volumes/macOS 10.15 Catalina (apfs, local, journaled)
map -hosts on /net (autofs, nosuid, automounted, nobrowse)
map auto_home on /home (autofs, automounted, nobrowse)
drivefs on /Volumes/GoogleDrive (dfsfuse_DFS, local, nodev, nosuid, synchronous, mounted by j)
mbp17:~ $ 


Finder Right-Click Contextual Pop-up menu:

  • Way more Google Drive – options, some depending on type of drive (My / Shared) – more below
  • Option for controlling Offline access, including ‘Online only’



‘Google Drive’ temporary storage, cache, is ‘a’ location to keep an eye on if/when start running out of local disk space!

Using ‘a’ [location] as we’ve realized it could be one of two different cache locations – ../Drive/ or ../DriveFS’ (Own Research below) – but independently of which, ‘a’ folder that can easily grow to gigabytes and way more depending on your use patterns of ‘Google Drive’, files used/kept open and ‘Available offline’-state.

Own Research

  • On macOS:
    • $HOME/Library/Application Support/Google/Drive”
      • IF using Backup and Sync, mirroring, for temporary files
      • CAN grow also quite big, as may be used to synchronize a connected iPhone to Google Drive cloud
        • Realized when in August 2021 see this folder is actually already some 200 GB…
          • 216.35 GB when first realize, and then grows in front of my eyes, as got an iPhone connected to computer in question,
          • 230.03 GB after just a four minutes, and continue to grow
    • $HOME/Library/Application Support/Google/DriveFS”
      • IF using Google Drive for desktop, mounted volume

Official Info, on Cache Location


Where is the Drive for desktop cache?
If you need to blacklist the Drive for desktop cache from virus or backup software, exclude this directory:

    • Windows: %LOCALAPPDATA%\Google\DriveFS
    • Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/Google/DriveFS


Warning – Actual Functionality

‘WARNING’ / NOTE on how actually works:

If making a copy of a file stored in a Google Drive folder using streaming config and ‘Offline access > Online only’ into a folder on your local drive, the following happens:

  1. First, to keep in mind/understand: what is occupying space on local disk is only a small reference, think area of maybe a few hundred bytes (not researched in detail)
    • Keep in mind files are stored on an own mounted volume, no any mirrored folder
    • (Disk use/du thus refer to size occupied on the mounted volume, NOT your local internal disk)
  2. So when copying happens (let’s use copying a 6 GB archive as example):
    1. First a copy of file is downloaded onto local FS, into ‘Cache’ above.
      • Local FS/Cache grows by 6 GB, local available disk space shrinks by 6 GB.
      • And time to download / ‘make copy’ can take significant time, unless have fast broadband service
    2. Then/in parallel, the copy is also made: another 6 GB is eventually allocated on local FS
      • Local FS grows by another 6 GB, 12 GB in total
  3. I.e. available, free, space on local disk has eventually shrunk by 12 GB.


Clearing Cache

Actually not yet found a clearly described process how to clean up content in cache….

One Answer in How to Clear … discussion above sounds like most promising:

‘ I just marked everything that I wanted to be “Online Only,” signed out of Drive Filestream, quit the Drive FS application, then restarted the application and signed in. It freed up about 150GB. ‘ (a Bob T, 4/13/20)

More detailed discussion around clearing cache – Google Drive clear cache –

More research


Remove Google Drive


    • Followed main thoughts along steps on this site for a MBP in Dec 2022.
      • This after laptop was really struggling, working hard, and Google Drive *was* at top in Activity Monitor, and really wasn’t using it – had it installed more for tests and evaluations than anything else.
        • Disconnected Drive via Google Drive app preferences
        • Removed app manually
          • Had to kill running Google Drive processes via Activity Monitor, some even with ‘Force Quit’ as refused to stop…
        • Removed starting-up in User account preferences manually
        • Removed files in ~/Library/Application Supple/Google/DriveFS manually (whole folder)
        • Never restarted Mac
        • Altogether laptop become actually quite remarkable more responsible……