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Google Files Fiasco

Tech News : 5th December 2023

Google Files Fiasco


An issue with Google’s cloud that locked some Google Drive for desktop users out of some of their files from the last six months has led to some angry comments being left on Google’s community support site. 

Reported Over A Week Ago 

The issue was first reported by a user (known as ‘Yeonjoong) back on 22 November. The user describes the issue (on the Google Drive Help page) as:  

“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 were deleted manually, so no files in Trash. I never sync or shared my files and drive to anyone, I used the drive locally.“ 

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Still Investigating 

At the time of writing this article, Google says it is still investigating the issue. Also, the user who first reported it claims that none of the fixes suggested by Google so far have worked.

 

What Are Other Users Saying? 

Posts from other affected users have highlighted issues such as:

 

– Losing access to important files from recent months. 

– Questioning the dependability of the Drive Service. 

– Asking for a full explanation of what had happened and to be informed about when their data will appear back. 

– Fears that important data may have been altered or permanently lost, e.g. by clicking on the disconnect button (which users have now been informed not to do, but some claim were told to do originally). 

– Reports of stress and worry, with some users threatening legal action. 

What Does Google Advise? 

At present, Google’s advice to affected Drive for desktop users in relation to what Google is calling the “Drive for desktop (v84.0.0.0 – 84.0.4.0) Sync Issue” is: 

– Not to click “Disconnect account” within Drive for desktop. 

– Not to delete or move the app data folder: Windows: %USERPROFILE%\AppData\Local\Google\DriveFS or macOS: ~/Library/Application Support/Google/DriveFS. 

– (Optional) If users have room on your hard drive, to make a copy of the app data folder. 

Google Cloud Vulnerabilities 

This latest story comes hot on the heels of Bitdefender researchers reporting recently that they’d discovered vulnerabilities in Google Workspace and Google Cloud Platform which, after first compromising the local machine, could allow threat actors to extend their activities to a “chain reaction” network-wide breach, potentially leading to ransomware attacks or data exfiltration. 

What Does This Mean For Your Business? 

The main concern for businesses directly impacted by this issue revolves around data integrity and reliability. Losing access to recent files can disrupt ongoing projects, delay deadlines, potentially lead to financial losses, and make users very angry and frustrated (as the comments on Google’s help page show). This incident highlights the importance of having a robust backup strategy that doesn’t rely solely on cloud services. Those businesses who have been directly affected or those who may have been spooked by this story may now want to reassess their data management policies, considering additional local or multi-cloud backups for critical data. 

For the wider base of Google Cloud users, this incident could be seen as a kind of cautionary tale that underscores the need for vigilance in cloud data management, and the importance of understanding the potential risks associated with cloud storage solutions. Really (time and resources permitting) users should try to stay informed about best practices for data safety and be proactive in implementing them. This could include regular audits of data access, backup strategies, and staying updated on service updates and potential vulnerabilities. That said, it seems fair for most businesses who are paying Google for aspects of its cloud service to at least expect to be able to access their files when they need them and if there is there is a problem, expect Google to sort it out quite quickly (not a week or so later). Also, many users may have been even more frustrated by a possible lack of communication on Google’s side about the issue, e.g. at least an estimate of when they could expect it to be fixed and regular updates on the situation. 

For Google, this lockout issue could obviously be damaging to its reputation as a reliable cloud service provider. In the competitive cloud market, reliability and trust are paramount. Google will need to not only address the current issue swiftly and transparently but also take proactive steps to prevent similar occurrences in the future. This could involve investing more in their infrastructure, enhancing their communication protocols during crises, and possibly reviewing their update and deployment strategies to ensure minimal disruption to users. The way Google handles this situation (which many affected users haven’t been too impressed with so far) could have lasting effects on its market position and user trust. 

Although this issue has posed some challenges to affected businesses, it could also be seen on reflection as providing valuable lessons for all stakeholders in the cloud services arena. Lessons include understanding more fully what their customers value the most and making more of a commitment to matters of reliability, transparency, and communication. 

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