Is this possible?

We are using Google Drive File Stream (Version: to sync all of our working files from our Macs with our Google Drive account. So this contains a mixture of Google Docs/Sheets/Slides files and other types (eg Indesign files, etc).

We want an extra level of security by backing-up these files via Time Machine (to an external drive). In case Google Drive goes down or we need to retrieve an older version.

But in Time Machine, when we go to select it, the Google Drive icon is greyed out.

I can see people backing up their desktop files TO Google drive via Time Machine but this is not what we are doing.

If it is not possible, does anybody have any suggestions on how to back-up Google Drive to an external drive?


I am facing the same issue and have found a clean (recommended) and a messy solution.

Clean Solution

When you make your files available for offline access, Drive File Stream (DFS) stores a cached version of this data in the following locations:

  • Windows: %LOCALAPPDATA%\Google\DriveFS

  • Mac: ~/Library/Application Support/Google/DriveFS

Unfortunately, this cache is not human readable but it can be mounted by Drive File Stream into the human readable offline file structure that you are familiar with seeing (in fact this is exactly what DFS does once you log in). However, please note that Time Machine also excludes this cache by default.

The only way to force Time Machine to include this cache in the backup is by moving the cache to another location. You can do this inside the DFS "preferences" menu. Note: I have only tested that this works in the ~/CustomFolderName/ folder but I assume it works for any other folder than the default.

Messy Solution

I have noticed that if you use Google Backup & Sync instead of Drive File Stream you can back this folder up using Time Machine (no compulsory greyed out option). But then the issue is that you cannot access Shared Drives using Backup & Sync (only using Drive File Stream). As such, it seems like one solution would be to use both in parallel but this not particularly appealing.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.