Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Google Drive Loses Months of Customer Data

Yeonjoong (via Hacker News):

My Google Drive files suddenly disappeared. The Drive literally went back to condition in May 2023. data from May until today disappeared, and the folder structure went back to status in May.

Google Drive activity doesn’t show any changes (only show activity that was in May) No files was deleted manually, so no files in Trash.


I followed recovery process that Google support team ask me to (South Korea team). They put a recovery program and failed.

Richard Speed (via Hacker News):

Google Drive users are reporting files mysteriously disappearing from the service, with some netizens on the goliath's support forums claiming six or more months of work have unceremoniously vanished.

There is little information regarding what has happened; some users reported that synchronization had simply stopped working, so the cloud storage was out of date. Others could get some of their information back by fiddling with cached files, although the limited advice on offer for the affected was to leave things well alone until engineers come up with a solution.

A message purporting to be from Google support also advised not to make changes to the root/data folder while engineers investigate the issue. Some users speculated that it might be related to accounts being spontaneously dropped.

Google is not officially communicating about this.


Update (2023-12-06): Bill Toulas:

A notable aspect of the situation is that Google’s support forums are backed by volunteers with limited insight or understanding of the cloud service, so the lack of effective assistance in critical problems like this makes it all the worse.

BleepingComputer has contacted Google for an update on the status of the internal investigation and whether the lost files are recoverable or irreversibly lost, but we have not received a response by publication time.

Update (2023-12-08): Ron Amadeo (Hacker News):

Google acknowledged the issue on November 27, and a week later, it posted what it called a fix.

It doesn’t feel like Google is describing this issue correctly; the company still calls it a “syncing issue” with the Drive desktop app versions through Syncing problems would only mean files don’t make it to or from the cloud, and that doesn’t explain why people are completely losing files. In the most popular issue thread on the Google Drive Community forums, several users describe spreadsheets and documents going missing, which all would have been created and saved in the web interface, not the desktop app, and it’s hard to see how the desktop app could affect that. Many users peg “May 2023" as the time documents stopped saving. Some say they’ve never used the desktop app.


Google locked the issue thread on the Drive Community Forums at 170 replies before it was clear the problem was solved. It’s also marking any additional threads as “duplicates” and locking them. Taking away the space to diagnose the issue and communicate fixes adds to the sense that Google is more interested in PR damage control than helping users. It also doesn’t allow people to reply to the “solution” post, so it’s hard to evaluate the fix’s efficacy since Google shut down the easiest avenues for user feedback and support.

Of the few replies before Google locked the thread, most suggested that Google’s fix did not work.

Nick Heer:

I think Google’s dependence on support forums is a huge part of this problem. The company has notoriously poor service. Only people who pay for a support plan are able to get help from a real person, and not by phone or even live chat. For most people, Google’s primary suggestion is to post on its forum. Google even frames it as an instruction to “contact us via our forum” — but you are not really contacting Google, are you? You are contacting some person named Alex who lives in Springfield and has no idea what is going on, either, but says you should try restarting your computer.

Sorry, but that will not do — not for precious files, and especially not for one of the richest corporations anywhere. Google is supposed to be good at internet services — and, historically, it has been — but it is not good at customer service. Google’s abdication in this case should be a reminder that even near-perfect reliability is irrelevant the moment there is a problem as serious as this, and when that happens, a real person being helpful will matter more than anything else. We need to have higher standards. Think about it this way: if the first couple of people to see this problem could have talked to a real person at Google, that person could have escalated this and flagged it as the big problem it is. Instead, a forum thread lingered for a week until someone at Google bothered to check on it.


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Back in the early 2000's, I used to carry a USB thumb drive in my pocket for transferring files between work and home, and for keeping files that I wanted to have access to from both locations. Then Dropbox was invented, so I switched to that and ditched the thumb drive. For various reasons, I since switched to user SpiderOak One, and then later to Sync.com.

...until a few months ago, when I gave up, and went back to carrying a thumb drive in my pocket.

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