Google Drive – 15GB of unreliability

The better part of a year has passed since I last gave up on Google Drive because of its unreliability, which is akin to that of a Lucas automotive electrical system. In mid May, Google announced that they tripled the storage space, giving you a total of 15GB for free, if you were brave enough to submit your files to the bug ridden mess that is Google Drive. Surely, this must be an indication that they finally sorted out their problems and that Google Drive at last was ready for serious use? A couple of weeks ago, I thought it was time to find out.

To give Google’s cloud storage offering a thorough workout, I used a synchronized folder for editing code and building projects, which of course means that a lot of files get created, updated, deleted or overwritten. Had things improved since my last disappointment? Actually, yes: instead of stopping the synchronization several times a day with the utterly useless error message “Unknown error”, it will now run for days before crashing and stating “PRIMARY KEY must be unique”. No more than 1 or 2 days mind you, but it’s an improvement nevertheless. Too bad that it’s not big enough to really matter. Google Drive is simply still an unreliable piece of junk.

File deletion nag screen

On the downside (not that the previous point was much of an upside), Google added a dialog that pops up whenever you or one of your programs delete a file, seemingly for the sole purpose of annoying the user.

google_drive_move_to_trash
Google Drive: not only buggy, but annoying as well.

There is no option to turn this nuisance off. There’s a makeshift workaround, but I won’t even bother to describe it here, as the sync errors render Google Drive too much of a high risk environment for your files anyway.

Endlessly growing temporary directory

Every time Google Drive starts, it creates a new subdirectory named _MEIxxx (where xxx is a number) in your temp directory, which is usually C:\users\username\AppData\Local\Temp (Find the Temp Folder). When you shut down Windows, Google drive just leaves the directory there and creates another one next time it starts, wasting 40 MB each time you boot your PC. According to this thread, that particular bug has been around for more than a year.

Conclusion

Stick with DropBox or SkyDrive. They actually work.

[Update: Forget about SkyDrive. As of Windows 8.1, MS has introduced a new antifeature which prevents you from using SkyDrive if you log into your Windows 8.1 computer with a local account. If you want to sync files using SkyDrive, you have to logon with an MS online account which might make your relationship with MS a trifle too close for comfort (I assume that you use client side encryption like Boxcryptor to keep MS, Dropbox etc from getting intimate with the contents of your synced files). To add insult to injury, MS apparently botched the 8.1 version of SkyDrive, which is a buggy piece of work. To force you to use the shiny, new SkyDrive, MS has added yet another antifeature which prevents you from installing the old desktop version in Windows 8.1. O brave new world, that has such IT companies in’t.]

For reference, here are some other experiences of Google Drive:

http://technotwiz.com/google-drive/common-google-drive-errors-and-issues/
http://cpbotha.net/2012/04/27/google-drive-not-reliable-yet-but-potential/
http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/drive/J75NeQt7G9w
http://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1173341
http://www.quora.com/Google-Drive/Why-is-the-Google-Drive-application-so-unreliable-compared-to-Dropbox-Box-Sync-iCloud-or-other-clients
http://www.androidpolice.com/2012/04/25/editorial-can-google-drive-dethrone-dropbox-the-cloud-storage-king/

Some of the above links are from early 2012, but given the Google Drive team’s consistent failure to get their act together, they’re still just as relevant today.

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