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Watch out: Google Drive may have lost months of data

Google Drive in Chrome on a MacBook.
Digital Trends

If you’re using Google Drive to back up your files, you may need to make sure everything’s in order — and perhaps even back those files up again somewhere else. While cloud storage is typically considered to be one of the safer methods of storing data, several users have reported that Google Drive may have misplaced their files. In some cases, the data loss goes as far back as May 2023. Here’s what we know, and how you can protect yourself.

Over the last few days, multiple complaints started cropping up on the Google Support forums. It appears that Google has a pretty worrying problem on its hands, and it was first reported by user Yeonjoong. Files are suddenly vanishing for some users, with seemingly no way to get them back. The user said that their drive seems to have gone back in time to May 2023, including files and folder structure.

Yeonjoong said in their post that the Google Drive activity doesn’t show any changes, and the only activity they can see was in May, even though they’ve used the drive since. While this user only used the drive locally, others commented that even files that were uploaded through the web interface have all but vanished. Several people mention May as the starting point, which implies that this is how far back the data loss goes in general, and not just for that one user.

Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of frustration in the comments, as people have lost not just their personal files, but also those pertaining to their businesses. One user said: “It’s all my work for the last 1-2 years. All my business work, all my personal files. Everything just vanished. It must be hundreds of files suddenly gone.”

Some users shared their experience iwhe contacting Google Support about this. Google first advised that if the files are not recovered after 48 hours that they may be gone permanently. However, in another post, it appears that Google is aware of the problem and is working to fix it, but is unable to provide an estimate on how long this might take, and, more importantly, whether all those files are lost forever or not.

Is it possible that the files will not be recovered at all? Unfortunately, yes. However, the good news is that The Register reports that one user found a fix, so it could just be a matter of time before Google’s engineers solve the issue on their end.

What can you do to avoid data loss in a situation like this? For the most important files, it’s usually better to use not one, but two methods of backing them up. It’s a hassle, sure, but at least you can rest easy knowing that even if one method fails, the other one should still work. That’s why things like an external SSD or HDD can truly come in handy.

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Monica J. White
Monica is a UK-based freelance writer and self-proclaimed geek. A firm believer in the "PC building is just like expensive…
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