Using Google Drive (aka bDrive) including automated access

Using Google Drive (aka bDrive) including automated access

What is Google Drive (aka bDrive)?

According to a knowledgebase article, this service provides:

  • Unlimited free storage, 5 TB file size
  • Long term, free support from campus
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Strong collaborative editing features (multiple people can edit simultaneously)
  • Fully integrated with other Google Apps, including bMail, bCal and Contacts
  • Convenient built-in poll/survey tool - Google Forms
  • Strong search capabilities
  • Data is encrypted in transit and at rest
  • Collaborate with colleagues outside of UC Berkeley using free Google accounts
  • Mobile apps for Apple or Android

Connecting to Google Drive from Mac and Windows

See here to download the Google Drive application that will automatically sync between your computer (Mac or Windows), phone, or tablet and your Google Drive account.

The Google Drive application is also installed on the SCF Macs, so you can use it to sync between your SCF account and your Google Drive account. Here are some instructions (similar to what you would do on your own machine but without the business of having to use a directory outside of your home directory).

  1. Prepare the local directory on the SCF machine by creating a folder '/var/tmp/your_username/gdrive' (you can choose a different location/folder name, but it's best to put it within /var/tmp/your_username.
  2. Open the Finder and navigate 'Go -> Go to Folder'. Find '/var/tmp/your_username/gdrive' and drag it to the Favorites area in the left panel
  3. Now open the Google Drive application and click on the triangular Google Drive logo icon in bar on the upper right of your Mac desktop
  4. Click on Sign In and login to the Google account (e.g., your account) for which you want to access your Google Drive content
  5. Click through some information windows. You will arrive a window that says "Whooops we ran into a problem" related to not being able to sync to a folder in your home directory because your home directory is on the network.
  6. Choose to change the folder, selecting '/var/tmp/your_username/gdrive' from the Favorites area.
  7. Select 'Start Sync'

Note that you can always disconnect the local machine from Google Drive - this keeps the files on the local machine but does not keep them synced. Just choose 'Preferences -> Account -> Disconnect Account' after clicking on the Google Drive menu icon.

Automating access to Google Drive on the SCF Linux machines

You can programmatically copy files to and from your Google Drive account from the command line. This allows you to avoid having to point-and-click via a web browser to upload and download files, which is particularly a pain when dealing with many files.

First, create a directory on an SCF machine to use to sync your Drive files, e.g.:

arwen$ mkdir ~/gdrive
arwen$ cd ~/gdrive

Second, initialize the Google drive tool and authenticate to Google:

arwen$ drive init

This will print out a URL. Go to that URL via a browser on which you are logged into your account. Copy the magic token and paste it at the terminal prompt.

You're now set up to push and pull files between Google Drive and your local directory. Simply typing 'drive' in the terminal will bring up some help information about potential commands you can use.

We'll illustrate basic usage of the push and pull commands. The following will copy all files from Google Drive to the current directory on the SCF machine.

arwen$ drive pull

Now suppose you want to copy files to Google Drive. Simply move or copy them into the current directory, and then use the push command. Here's an illustration with a simple test file. When you've completed the following, you should be able to see the newly-added files via a web browser pointing to your Google Drive directory.

arwen$ echo "some text" > testfile
arwen$ drive push