A surprising surprise from Google Drive

I’m glad I found this out before I did something destructive.
I recently got Google Drive, which I use as a cloud backup. I save to my local drive too. To update what is on the local drive, I drag it to the Google Drive location, which has a different structure from what I keep on the desktop.

Unbeknownst to me, Google Drive now seems to be automagically writing my data without my telling it to. For some reason, Google Drive is now treated by the Mac as the default location for my data. That means my local data is somewhere unknown unless I keep track of it myself. That’s creepy. Good in a way, but still…

Since I’m saving routinely while editing, I need to be careful when experimenting, and not expect Google Drive to respect my wishes, which would be not to change anything until I say so. Now I must always tack a fake name on any experiment before I proceed with it.

Without my even knowing it, by the way, Google Drive automagically saved my fake version. Ok. That’s a good thing. But it was a surprise. I’m glad I didn’t try a fake version and expect Google Drive to give me back a previous version. I’m not sure it keeps old versions. I know Dorico does, but…it’s still a little creepy, don’t you think?

Google Drive keeps old versions for 30 days. However: If it doesn’t keep versions permanently, then it’s not a backup!

iCloud Drive definitely doesn’t keep versions, which means if you delete a file, that deletion is synced across all your devices. Definitely not a backup!

There’s still no substitute for using Time Machine on a local disk. Not least of all, doing a complete restore of 100s of Gb may take ages, depending on your internet speed.

Automated backup is a good, easy solution, but for digital work I find version control which is backed up much better. Automated backup just stores everything willy-nilly with no metadata while VCS is intentional and so much more useful. In practice I’ve found it much easier to lose or unintentionally abandon/break automated.

You have to have some technical savvy to setup, but if you can I’d recommend it. I use Perforce, which runs weekly integrity checks and cloud backup (you want at least one main store, with two backing stores of which one is cloud). With the checkin messages I writeup the changes and work I’ve done which is a record making it easy to keep track and make restorations if needed. I also have a field for the time spent on that change so have built in time tracking, and a section for remaining TODO and issues.

When I used Finale, I used an app called ForeverSave 2, which did per-app auto-saving, with each save being a separate, browsable version in its own interface.

It seems like the current version doesn’t work on Monterey or higher, but ForeverSave 3 will be released soon. Might be worth a look.



Regarding the thread title – I’d be more surprised if you were reporting an unsurprising surprise.…

Thanks for these ideas. I don’t know which ones would work for me.
I want a cloud backup such that my house and all its contents can burn down and I lose none of the work I’ve done for the last 30 years, or at least any that I care about. So I back up manually. Whatever Google Drive (the spendy one) does is nice, but so far I have manually saved my work day by day. But yesterday I found GD copying my work as I went along. I hadn’t noticed that that happening before. That’s why I think it’s creepy.

That’s actually what I like about it! Real time offsite mirroring is a good thing for me.

I also keep Time Machine active at all times saving onto an external disk to give me a proper backup.

The key thing for me, though, is to have a versioning strategy that does not rely day to day on my backup systems to retrieve old versions. My ideal is to have a system whereby even if all my backup systems fail, I won’t lose anything important.

For me, the backup systems are there to cater for human error (such as accidentally deleting things) and to recover easily from system failures.

I’d say creating a new Dorico file version for every experiment is a good idea, likewise I do it every time I start a set of changes, or I’m about to try something risky, or when I feel I’ve achieved a significant step in a larger piece of work.