Two ways to use Google Drive

Authors: Giovanni De Cesare, Luciano Nicastro
Date: Feb 6, 2019

Google drive and other storing options

Googling “Google Drive”, one finds out that, in technical jargon,

“Google Drive is a cloud storage service, and like any cloud storage service its main purpose is to expand your ability to store files beyond the limits of your hard drive”.

Basically, it is a way to save your files in the could and share them with whoever you like, or use them when you are out of the office or somewhere. Anyway, “cloud storage service” is the correct definition.

Since we are all excited about the possibility of storing terabytes of data, the big question is: how much space do we have on Google Drive? On a normal Google account, there is a limit to the storage space that we can use (on my personal account I have 15 Gbytes available). Bad news. But on a company account, in our case in the INAF account, we have unlimited space available! Good news. However we must point out that even more than Terabytes are important performances, that is the speed of upload and download.

Google also offers (for a fee) different storage options, with different features and performance:

https://cloud.google.com/storage-options/

In this tutorial two easy ways to use Google drive are presented.

The first way: using Google drive from your browser

If you are a simple user, this is probably the way you are used playing with Google drive. Once you have logged in to Gmail, simply click on the “App Google” button on the right and select the “Drive” app. The Drive app is very easy to use, I think I do not have to write a tutorial on this. But if there are any questions or request, just ask.

The second way: Google drive in your local file system

If you feel like a real hacker, this paragraph is probably for you. Mounting Google drive on the file system means that you can access files from the Terminal or from the desktop. On Mac, we tested two ways to mount Google drive as a file system.

As a first option, we can use the Google app:

https://www.google.com/drive/download/

Once you have finished installing the “Drive file Stream“, you should have your remote file system also accessible from the terminal. With the unix command df -h you should get a line like this (besides obviously the lines on your file systems):

Filesystem   Size   Used  Avail  Capacity iused ifree %iused  Mounted on
drivefs     931Gi  611Gi  320Gi      66%  184... 42.          /Volumes/GoogleDrive

Note that the available quota is, in this case, 320 GByte.

To see if everything works, go to the directory:

$ cd /Volumes/GoogleDrive

And create a file. For example:

$ cd MyDrive
$ touch pluto

If you access your Google Drive from the browser you should also see the file (pluto) you just created.

On Mac OS, also tested an application called WingFS:

https://p5.archiware.com/products/wingfs

It should also run on the most popular Linux distros (see the FAQ). There is also a PRO version (for a fee) of WingFS, but I would say that we do not need the additional features. We are lucky guys, it often happens in these business models.
To use WingFS, simply launch the application and turn on the GUI switch. To check the file system type:

$ df -h

Filesystem        Size Used Avail Capacity     iused ifree %iused Mounted on
wingfs@osxfuse0   64Gi  0Bi 64Gi        0%         0     0   100% /Volumes/GD

Note that the mounted (and available) quota is, in this case, 64 GByte.

Additionally …

You can have a look to this link for additionally options on Linux or MacOS using port / brew. For example we have used successfully GCFS on an Ubuntu system.

View shared folder in your Drive

To make locally accessible data in folders shared by other users simply:

  1. Go to the Shared with me folder,
  2. Click with the mouse right button (or two fingers on a touchpad) on the fiolder you want to access locally (e.g. the Data folder shared by grawita oaroma) and select Add to My Drive.

You will now see that folder in your personal Drive and will be able to see it as any other folder.

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