How to get around Google Backup and Sync failing to work with Apple's Mac M1

Google Drive Backup and Sync is broken on the new Apple Silicon hardware. Jack Wallen offers up what might be your best option until Google fixes the issue.

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Image: Apple, Inc.

I'm going to preface this by saying I don't have a fix to get Google Backup and Sync to work on the new Apple M1-powered hardware. If that's what you were hoping for, you'll be disappointed (sort of). If you're not sure what I'm referring to, the Google Drive Backup and Sync tool does not work with M1-powered Apple hardware. It'll install and start, but cannot make a connection with your Drive account. When you do attempt to connect it, the software will crash and there's no way to fix it at the moment. Even following the advice from Google fails to resolve the problem.

As it stands, the only way this will be fixed is if Google gets their software to work with the M1 chip--and they will. If they want their software to function with Apple hardware going forward, they have no choice.

Until that time, what do those Mac users, who want to sync to Google Drive, do? I have a suggestion.

But first…

SEE: Apple Silicon M1 Mac buying guide: 2020 MacBook Air vs. MacBook Pro vs. Mac mini (TechRepublic)

How I use Google Drive Sync

I don't use Google Drive in the same way most do. I don't want a two-way sync. Why? Because I already use over 150GB on my Drive account. I don't want (or need) all of that content to sync with my MacBook Pro. Even though that new M1-powered laptop has a TB of local storage, a lot of it gets gobbled up by Final Cut Pro video files. I don't need the additional weight of Google Drive content jamming up my drive. Besides, I run a nightly backup of Google Drive to my Linux desktop, so I don't need it to also happen on my laptop.

In the end, how I need to work with Google Drive on my MacBook Pro is to sync one particular folder to my Google Drive cloud account. That's it. It's the only reason I used the Google Drive Backup and Sync client.

How did I get around this failure of Google's? I turned to another company.

Hello, Insync

I've used Insync for a long, long time. Granted, I've stopped using it on my Linux desktop (in favor of rclone), but I still have an account. I thought, why not give that ol' standby a go.

Guess what? It works fine.

If you've never heard of Insync, let me fill you in. Insync is a desktop client that allows you to sync both Google Drive and OneDrive on Linux, macOS, and Windows. It has a lot of features you won't find in the Google Drive Backup and Sync client, so it's a much better fit for power users--which is also it's Achilles' heel. 

The problem most will run into with Insync is that it's not nearly as user-friendly as Google's option. In fact, a misconfigured Insync can be disastrous. I found this out the hard way after a reinstall and poorly configured instance of Insync wound up deleting one very important folder on Google Drive. Fortunately, Google was able to restore the folder--otherwise I'd have found myself suffering from a serious case of waking nightmare. 

SEE: Power checklist: Local email server-to-cloud migration (TechRepublic Premium)

However, that was on me, not Insync. However, it illustrates that Insync has far more power than Google's client. Opting for Insync requires a bit more caution than you would. 

If you're looking to install Insync, make sure you take a look at my post How to install the Insync beta 3 client that includes OneDrive syncing. Although you won't be installing a beta release, that post gives you a good idea on how to set Insync up.

This is not an ideal solution for the average macOS user who's accustomed to that certain Apple level of simplicity and ease of use. If you opt to use Insync until Google gets Backup and Sync fixed, understand you might have to spend a bit more time than you're used to getting Insync up and running correctly. It's not so challenging that the average user can't make it work, it's just different. You might also want to poke around the Insync Help Center to get your bearings, before you dive in.

Until such time that Google gets their tool working, Insync is a viable option. Maybe after using Insync for a while, you might prefer this tool over Google's.

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By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....