How to sync Google Drive in a non-standard location

If you have a device with limited storage space, and you need to sync your Google Drive folders, Jack Wallen has just the solution for you.

Image: Jack Wallen

Recently I received a hybrid device, running Windows 10, and needed to be able to sync it to my Google Drive accounts. My first option was to install the official Google Drive Desktop client, but almost immediately realized the error of my ways. The biggest issue was that this device was very limited on storage space (being primarily a tablet, with a connected keyboard). To remedy that, I inserted a microSD card, uninstalled the Google Drive client, and re-installed, pointing the client to the external storage.

And then things went sideways. It turns out that the Google Drive client doesn't like it when you move its folder outside of the C drive. Syncing becomes erratic and unpredictable. Best case scenario is that your files may or may not sync. Worst case scenario is that your files could be deleted (from both locations).

In other words, do not attempt to force the Google Drive Desktop client to use a storage location outside of the C drive on Windows. If this were a standard laptop, with plenty of storage to house 30+ GB of Google Drive files and folders, the official client would be fine. However, that was not the case here.

Where was I to turn? The answer lay in a desktop client I've used on Linux for a number of years now. Said client in Insync. This particular Google Drive syncing client doesn't care where you place the sync folder--inside or outside of C; no matter where Insync is pointed, it will sync just fine.

Configuring the client

First off, installing Insync is incredibly simple (as simple as installing any software on Windows). The client is also not free. Insync has a one-time price of $29.99 per Google account. There is a 15 day free trial period, but this tool is very much worth the purchase price.

To install Insync, download the installer, double-click it, and walk through the user-friendly wizard. At the last step of the wizard, you will find yourself in a window that allows you to choose your sync destination. Click on the Change folder button (Figure A) and navigate to your external drive. Once you've selected your drive, you'll be returned to that final setup window.

Figure A

Figure A

Changing the destination drive for syncing.

Here you can also configure Insync to convert Google Drive files to a format usable by your local office suite. Do know this: should you enable this option, it will slow the syncing down. That's fine, once the initial sync is taken care of. However, should you opt to enable this during the initial sync, be prepared for a very lengthy wait. You can also enable this option later.

You can also select which Google Drive folders to sync. To do this, click the change button under Sync all files and folders, and then select which Drive folders you want to sync to your desktop. Click Finish and the syncing will begin. Depending upon how much you have enabled to sync, the initial process can take some time.

You best hope

Insync is, by far, my favorite Google Drive to desktop syncing client. Not only does it allow you to choose your syncing destination, it works with a level of reliability you need for your precious data. If you happen to find yourself using a device with very limited internal storage, and you need to sync Google Drive, your best hope for success is Insync. Give it a go and see if you don't draw the same conclusion.

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