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How to get Google Drive file sync working reliably when the Google Drive folder is on a networked drive?

Posted on 2014-09-10
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Last Modified: 2014-11-20
Questions

Has anyone successfully set up a system similar to the one I describe below (sort of a hybrid cloud solution I suppose) using Google Drive?
Are there any changes we could make to our configuration that might resolve the issues we are experiencing?
In the limit, what might you suggest as an alternative?

When it works this set up suits our needs perfectly and we are very keen to see if we can resolve our issues before switching to a different solution entirely.

Background:

We have a Windows Server 2012 based file server and also Google Drive for Education.

The file server is running as a virtual server (alongside a print server and a DNS server I believe) and our drives are formatted as NTFS.

We have installed the Google Drive File Sync application on the server and files that reside inside the Google Drive folder are then synced to a Google Drive user called "fileserver".

The idea is that in school, teachers access files through mapped drives directly on the school network.

The subset of those files which reside in the Google Drive folder will then also be available to staff at home via their own Google Drive logins (FYI we are very specific about which files staff may access at home).

The Google Drive app has also proven to be a convenient solution for saving files from our iPads to the school network. Each iPad has a Google Drive account. The fileserver Google Drive user shares folders with the iPad users allowing us to upload files from the iPads. These files are then synced back to the school Windows file server.

We know there are other possible solutions for the iPads, including setting up a local WebDav server, but it seemed worth trying to use a system we already had in place.

Technical Issue

Unfortunately file sync between Google Drive and our Windows File Server only works intermittently. As far as I can tell there are no log files that we can look at that might help diagnose the problem.

We don't yet have any staff trying to access files at home, so for now the problem is manifesting itself when staff are uploading photos and short (1 or 2 minutes maximum) videos from their iPads but are having to wait ages for us to ensure they are synced back to the windows server.

We are constantly restarting the Google Drive application on the server, at which point it works for a short period of time then ceases to sync again. We are trying to set it up as a service that can be restarted automatically on a regular basis, but this is obviously not a long term solution.

I'm assuming we can rule out our firewall as an issue since syncing works intermittently, but I could be wrong. We are not directly in control or our firewall unfortunately and have to raise requests for changes to settings.

I've spoken to Google who said that they do not support the use of Google Drive on a networked drive. It sounded as  though it might be considered a security breach since a range of network users have access to the Google Drive folder that is then synced with a specific Google Drive user's account and I asked whether installing GADS (Google Active Directory Sync) might resolve the security issue, but it sounded unlikely.

Both of the guys I spoke to, however, did said that they do know of some clients who have such a system operating very well and suggested searching for advice online, so here I am! I hope someone can help!
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Question by:alastairross
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Expert Comment

by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
ID: 40316470
GADS will have no effect on google drive sync
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Expert Comment

by:Allen Falcon
ID: 40317428
Gladinet offers a solution that can work for you (has its own issues), as does LinkGard's Nava Certus.

You will need a third party tool for this.
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Accepted Solution

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alastairross earned 0 total points
ID: 40444446
After a lot of investigation with Google and our firewall provider, it seems the issue does after all relate to our firewall.

Google uses a range of IPs, and the services accessing each IP varies constantly. Our firewall provider automatically classifies each IP and occasionally identifies their use by Google as a "Web Proxy" which it disallows with no exceptions. This apparently explains the fact that the solution works intermittently.

We are now exploring alternative firewall providers who might be able to offer us the same level of security with greater flexibility!
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Author Closing Comment

by:alastairross
ID: 40454663
I have accepted my own answer - I did not receive any advice on how to get Google File Sync working, although as it turns out, diagnosing the problem would have been difficult for a third party without the knowledge of how our firewall operates.
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