Restore a computer backup from “Backup and Sync from Google”

Restore a computer backup from “Backup and Sync from Google”

I use the Backup and Sync from Google application that allows synchronizing all or a part of Google Drive cloud with a local folder. It also allows creating hot backup of selected folders. It monitors files in those folders and any change initiates immediate synchronization with the cloud. All folders from one computer are grouped into that machine name, and you can have multiple computers backed up (well, parts of them, it is not a full backup).


Creating a backup is really simple – just open Preferences, select your computer and choose folders to be synchronized. There are two disadvantages: you can select only folders (not files), and any change to the folders list causes synchronization check of all files contained in them, which in large backups can take a while.

I had to restore the backup twice: once on the same machine after formatting and once on another machine with different disks.

Continue synchronization on new machine

I used to have a Google Drive backup of some folders on my laptop. When I had to format that computer, I made a copy of those folders on an external disk and then I restored them using that disk on a fresh machine. I was confused with what I should do with that Google Drive backup – how to use old backups there were still in the cloud to continue synchronization of the folders on the new computer, without having to resend all folders again to the Drive.

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I think (I can’t remember now) I initiated new backups of those folders and after they were synchronized, I removed the backup of the previous machine in Google Drive. Again – I don’t remember if Google resent all folders or just verified the files.

Anyway, the next case is more interesting (and more generic).

Restore to new locations

It was not intuitive at all. I read the documentation, tutorials and options in Google Drive. I still didn’t know how I could restore my data.

There is an ability to download data from my cloud. So I tried. Every download is split into 2GB ZIP files. So when I clicked Download in one big folder, I was given a dozen of 2 GB files to be downloaded simultaneously. After half an hour, some of those parts failed and couldn’t be restarted. There was no point in continuing the download and I gave up.

Next, I tried to download subfolders to limit the size. It was very tedious and ineffective. I was later shocked to discover that:

  • some files were missing from the downloaded ZIP!
  • some files/folders were renamed (& was replaced with _)

Once again did I make the research. This time I tried another approach. After several wrong attempts, I found a fairly easy solution. Let’s assume I backed up three folders (Music, Pictures, Video) to Google Drive in Laptop 1. To restore them on a new computer (Laptop 2), to any location, do:


I do not guarantee success of this procedure. I don’t want to be accused for any loss of your data, continue on your own responsibility.

  1. Create empty folders Music, Pictures, Video in any location on the new computer (Laptop 2). Note: location and names may be different than they were previously.
  2. Synchronize these folders with Google Drive.
  3. Open Google Drive in a web browser. You should see backups of two computers: the old one Laptop 1 and the new one Laptop 2. Expand both. We are going to move the contents of each folder from Laptop 1 to Laptop 2.
    1. While still in web, open the Music folder in Laptop 1 backup. Select all of its subfolders and files (CTRL+A or select with the mouse).
    2. Move the selected items to the Music folder in Laptop 2.
    3. You should see the synchronization in Laptop 2 to be initiated and soon all contents of the Music folder will be downloaded (restored).
  4. Repeat the same for the other folders (Pictures and Video).

Finally, Laptop 1 backup in Google Drive should have just empty folders now, so it can be deleted.

Laptop 2 backup in Google Drive has all the data that was previously backed in Laptop 1. If the online backup is no longer needed, first disable the synchronization in the Backup and Sync application, and then remove the online backups. Doing the other way may remove your downloaded files.

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