I honestly believe that Google Drive is one of the most convenient Internet apps to ever be created. Google Drive allows you to collaborate with others seamlessly on documents, is now integrated with most other services you use on a daily basis, and files are always accessible as long as you have an Internet connection or offline access.
Because of how incredibly useful Google Drive is, the sinking feeling you get when suddenly you can’t access a file or the server isn’t connecting can be horrible – especially because this kind of glitch always happens at the worst possible time.
Thankfully, in most cases there’s no need to fear – many Google Drive problems are an easy fix, and you should be back on track with your projects in no time!
In a lot of cases the following steps will solve your problem – even though it seems silly, going through this list might save you a lot of time and frustration!
First, you’ll want to check out Google’s app status dashboard– a list of all of Google’s apps and whether there’s currently a widespread problem with them or not. If you see a “service disruption” or “service interruption” indicator on the app you want to use, you can click on the colored dot to see details about when the service will be back online. If the problem with Google Drive is on Google’s end, unfortunately the only thing you can do is wait for the outage to be over.
On the other hand, if the app status page doesn’t indicate any problems, try the following quick checks before moving on to any more complicated solutions:
- If you’re using Google Drive online:
- Log out and back in
- Close and reopen your web browser
- Check your Internet or Data connection
- If you’re using a Google Drive app
- Close and re-open the app
- Log out and back in
- Check your Internet or Data connection
If the above suggestions didn’t solve your problem, we’ve answered five of the most common Google Drive frustrations below. At the end of the article, I also have some resources included for you if you need to look up another issue that I haven’t answered here.
1. “I made a mistake and it saved automatically – how do I get the old version of my file back?”
One of my favorite things about files on Google Drive is the automatic save feature – but if you make a mistake (such as deleting a large amount of text or making a significant formatting change) it can seem like there’s no way to recover your work.
Thankfully, Google Drive keeps a detailed edit history of any and all changes made on your document by any user who has editing permissions. To go back to an earlier save, use the File menu to “See Revision History” or press Command + Option + Shift +H on a Mac.
Your history of changes made to the file should appear along the right hand side of the document, and you can navigate through the many different revisions made – you can choose whether you want to see a “detailed” version of revisions (a new save almost every minute) or the less detailed version, which is more likely to represent every 24 hours or so.
2. “My file disappeared, how do I get it back?”
If you’re the only one with access to the file:
- Check your Google drive trash (drive.google.com/drive/trash) or by clicking the “Trash” button in your left hand navigation bar. If you see the file that you’re looking for, right click on it and press “restore” – your file will now be available in its original location.
- If your missing file isn’t in your trash, it’s possible that the name has been changed or it has been accidentally moved to another file. Thankfully, Google Drive’s search features are advanced – try searching for your file using keywords or dates, and see if it’s just in another location than the one you anticipated.
If there are multiple people working on this file:
One of the most common mishaps with Google Drive is that if one person deletes a shared file (maybe in an attempt to organize their Google Drive), it deletes the file for everyone. There are a number of factors to consider when using Google Drive to collaborate, but this is one of the most important – just like with any other file storage system, it’s imperative that you keep backups of your files in a separate, secure location!
The owner of the shared file may be able to retrieve it from their deleted files, or if you have a Google Drive account under a school or workplace, there may be an administrator who has access to all deleted files within 30 days of their deletion, and who may be able to help you with your situation.
3. “My Google Drive has run out of storage space, what do I do?”
If you’ve exceeded Google Drive’s capacity for storage (storage is shared across Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Photos, and any other files that you upload to Drive), you have a couple of options.
The easiest option is to upgrade the amount of storage that you currently have on Google Drive – Google Drive’s monthly price plans are pretty reasonable, at $1.99 a month for 100GB, and $9.99/month for 1TB.
If upgrading the amount of Google Drive storage you have isn’t in your budget, it might mean that you have to take a long look at what you’re storing on Google Drive. It’s possible that old vacation photos or a large project that’s no longer relevant could be saved offline only and then deleted from your Google Drive to free up some space for new files.
4. “When I try to print on Google Drive it doesn’t work, what do I do?”
Printers and Google Drive sometimes don’t play well together, but you have a couple options to try and troubleshoot the root of your problem.
- Ensure that your printer software is up-to-date. Because Google Drive is constantly being updated, it can quickly outpace your printer software. This can cause communication problems between the two services, and result in printing errors.
- Similarly, you’ll want to make sure that the web browser you’re using is up-to-date too – you may want to try un-installing and re-installing the browser to ensure all of the key files are functioning correctly.
- Disable any browser extensions that may be interfering with your ability to print
- If you’re still unable to print directly from Google Drive, it might be worth taking the time to download your file as a PDF and then print it from your PDF software instead of from your browser. Yes, this solution adds an extra step to your printing process (which can be frustrating!), but it’s often a quicker fix than fiddling with extensions and updates!
5. “Someone sent me a link to a file, but Google Drive says that I can’t view/edit it – how do I get access to the file?”
This problem often crops up because of the number of options users have for sharing Google Drive files with others. If the person sending you the link to the file has missed a step in the process or chosen the incorrect option, you may be unable to see the file at all or be able to see the file without the ability to make any changes.
If you don’t have access to a file, Google Drive will provide you with a button to “request access” from the file’s owner, which will prompt them to change the sharing settings on the file.
If you’re the owner of a file and people are having trouble accessing it, double check that you’ve set the sharing parameters correctly using the video below.
6. “I don’t always have an Internet connection – how do I edit a Google Drive file offline?”
In order to use Google Drive offline, you will need to use either the Google Chrome browser or install the Google Drive app on your Mac or PC.
- Visit drive.google.com/drive/settings, and click the box next to “Sync Google Docs, Sheets, Slides & Drawings files to this computer so that you can edit offline.”
- Note – you are only able to do this with one account per computer, so enable it only on the account that you use most often, or be prepared to switch back and forth between enabling and disabling syncing regularly!
- As well, in order to enable offline syncing you will need to have an Internet connection – so it may involve a little bit of planning ahead for the first time you use the offline function.
On your computer:
- Download the Google Drive software on your computer from the link above, and follow the prompts to set up your account.
- You will need to be connected to the Internet initially so that your files can download to your computer.
Still Have a Question?
If I didn’t answer your question above, there’s still hope! Google Drive has a fantastic troubleshooting resource that covers a number of common issues with the service. There is also a Google Drive help forum where you may be able to find others who have solved the same problem you’re having, or who can help you troubleshoot your current issue. Lastly, you can always contact Google Drive Support as well, you may just have to wait a little while for a personalized response.
What important Google Drive glitches have I missed? Let me know about any Google Drive issues and solutions you’ve found in the comments!
Image Credit: repair expert by Ricardo Romero via Shutterstock