Google Docs and Sheets keep vanishing from Odrive folders on Mac

New Google Docs and Sheets I create show up as cloud links in the corresponding Odrive folders on my Mac, but then a day or so later an error message appears and they vanish, and I have no way of bringing them back. Renaming them sometimes helps temporarily, but soon after they vanish again.

I’ve been a paying customer for years. This is kind of infuriating.

Please help!
Thank you.

Hi @issiromem,
Thanks for reaching out about this. We can definitely take a look.

  • Are the files disappearing from Google Drive, too? odrive explicitly prevents any deleting of Google Doc files from Google. If you try you will receive an error and it will be restored as a placeholder.

Can you please do the following?

  1. Provide a path and file name for a recent occurrence of this
  2. Describe the error message you are seeing
  3. Send a diagnostic from the odrive tray menu

Hi Tony. The files are not disappearing from the Google Drive, just from the local odrive folder.

Here’s a screenshot of an error example. In this case it’s a Google Drive folder shared with me. In other cases it’s Google Drive folders that I own.

Screen Shot 2022-03-04 at 15.06.21

I’ve sent a diagnostic too.

Hi @issiromem,
I took a quick look at this and it looks like there was an attempt to move this file from:
/Users/issiromem/odrive/Google_Drive/MetroSight/Projects/2021/VTS - files/Public/KMG_VTS_Marino/2022/2022-03 (2022-02 data)/February Key Takeaways (Mar 2022 report)


/Users/issiromem/odrive/metrosight-private/MetroSight/Projects/2021/VTS - files/Public/KMG_VTS_Marino/2022/2022-03 (2022-02 data)/February Key Takeaways (Mar 2022 report)

Google Docs can’t be moved across storage, even from one Google Drive account to another. This applies even if they are “synced” because the documents can only exist in Google Drive as they are purely “cloud” files. When you sync a Google Doc in odrive, it just creates a double-clickable shortcut to the file in the Google Docs web client. The only way to be able to export Google Docs is to save them as a “real” file format, like a Office-type document, or PDF, for example.

The files are appearing to disappear because the placeholder file that shows up in the destination is “invalid” (since it doesn’t actually exist in that storage). The invalid placeholder file is removed and the error message you see is popped-up.

odrive also sees the file that you moved from the original location as deleted, so it queues it in the odrive trash. odrive can’t actually delete Google Doc files, so if you attempt to empty the trash, placeholders will be recreated for them in the original location.

So, what to do now?

  1. There are currently 36 items in the odrive trash now, and they all look like Google Documents of some kind. My guess is that they probably all ended up there because of attempts to move them. You can see a list of these in the odrive tray menu and also a full, detailed list in the “current_odrive_status.txt” file that was created in the root of your odrive as part of the diagnostic being sent.

    I recommned selecting “restore all trashed items” from the odrive trash submenu in the odrive tray menu. Technically emptying the trash will do the same thing because these are all Google Docs files.

  2. If you want to copy Google Docs from Google to another storage, you will want to export/download the documents from the Google Drive web client and then move those into the storage you want to upload them to in odrive.

Thanks Tony.

This makes sense, because the problem did begin a few months ago, around the time I set up the a backup on S3 ("…/metrosight-private/…").

I understand that Google Docs/Sheets etc cannot be copied over to S3 unless I download a Word/Excel or equivalent file that lives locally on my machine and can therefore get uploaded to S3.

However, is there a way of making the failure to upload the (locally non-existent )Google Doc/Sheets to S3 not result in the placeholder getting erased?


Hi @issiromem,

Unfortunately I don’t think we can do this. Cleaning-up invalid placeholders is part of maintaining the internal integrity of the sync engine, otherwise things can get funky. We are surfacing this to the user when this happens via the pop-up error, we also create a couple of log entries in the “sync activity log” to record the event. Hopefully this can be enough to inform that something needs to be looked-at/done.

I have the same folder on my local machine get synced with Google Drive and S3 simultaneously. The S3-synced folder is just a symbolic link to (a subfolder in) the folder synced to Google Drive. As a result, the failure to upload the nonexistent local file to S3 causes the placeholder for Google Drive to be removed, even though the file is present on Google Drive. Does that not change things?

Hi @issiromem,
Unfortunately that is a scenario we can’t account for since odrive is not aware of the filesystem connection you have created between the two folders.

Now that I know the specifics, I understand what is being seen. odrive sees placeholders that appear in S3 that are not associated with that storage (invalid). odrive cleans them up and notifies the user. When the cleanup happens, it is actually also removing the placeholder from the origin (Google Drive). odrive doesn’t know this is happening, because, from its perspective it has only cleaned-up the invalid files in S3. When it looks at Google Drive, it sees that the placeholder has been removed.

I suppose you could also define a custom exclusion list to exclude google doc files from syncing, at all, to avoid the confusion and undesired behavior.