How to Sync Google Drive on Linux

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Two of the more commonly used cloud storage services for personal use areGoogle Drive and Dropbox. Both cloud services are simple to set up and use reliably. Either one can be a suitable choice for storing personal files using free or paid plans.

That said, Google Drive, despite long-festering promises by Google to provide a non-browser-based file client for Linux users, requires a manual overhead to manage files through its Web browser-only interface.

Coming to the rescue are a variety of free and low-cost commercial solutions for Linux users to sync files between computers, mobile devices and Google Drive cloud storage automatically. No doubt Google has not made good on its promise to release a Linux syncing client because the private sector already provides that missing feature.

Google provides a client for Windows and macOS users to automate file access and synchronize files.

Dropbox provides a very workable client for all three platforms. However, Dropbox recently limited to three the number of linked devices for its free basic storage plan. If you need to link more than three devices, Dropbox now requires upgrading to a paid plan starting at US$9.99/month that includes larger storage capacity and unlimited device linking.

If you need to link your files to a combination of no more than three desktop and laptop computers, or tablets and mobile smartphone, Dropbox remains an adequate choice. The accompanying syncing software for Linux is effortless and reliable. It might even be worth the steeper price to upgrade your storage plan to get unlimited device linking.

By comparison, Google provides 15 GB of storage for free. Since Linux users can access their files only via a Web browser, there is no limit to the number of devices you can use. Nor is there a limit for linking Windows and macOS computers. You can jump up to 100 GB of storage for $1.99/month or get even more storage for an additional cost.

Quest for the Best

For years I have used both Google Drive and Dropbox for cloud storage. The lack of a syncing client for Google Drive was less important as my Android devices automatically back up to Drive, and the bulk storage of photos and hordes of personal documents needed only occasional access. Viewing them through a Web browser and downloading them to a specific device as needed was a workable tradeoff.

I spend lots of time using multiple computers running Linux OSes and Microsoft Windows to research writing topics and conduct product reviews. So I used Dropbox as a dedicated storage center for current and archived files related to my work assignments. The syncing client integrates into the Windows and Linux file managers for seamless and instant file access.

Thankfully, Dropbox allowed current users with more than three connected devices to maintain that collection of linked devices with no required pricing plan upgrade. Any additional connections would kick the new pricing plan into play. That policy was fine for my standard set of computers and mobile gear, but any changes incurred with testing new devices and Linux distros posed an inconvenience that required manual management of access to needed Dropbox files through a Web browser.

As a result, I spent several weeks on a quest to find an ideal solution for a Google Drive client for Linux to sync all my files with better pricing. To my surprise, I found numerous options to view and download files to my computers without manually visiting my Google Drive account via a Web browser.

I found free offerings with limitations. These were mostly open source packages and Linux options that worked only with a command line interface (CLI). Using them didn't offer the convenience I needed as I moved among various computers. I also found a few Linux products that used a graphical user interface (GUI), but they were clunky and lacked most of the features I needed.

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