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I use Google Drive File Stream for work, and there are certain mission-critical files that I need available for offline access. File Stream makes this easy: control-click on the file, and choose "Available Offline". Great!

But where are these files stored? With the "old" Google Drive (now "Backup & Sync") there was a Google Drive folder at the top of my user directory; this folder was always available, whether Backup & Sync was running or not, and Time Machine would back it up for me (if I wanted it to). With File Stream, I have no idea where those files are -- when the program is not running the "Google Drive" volume unmounts from my system, and the files appear to be completely inaccessible; moreover I don't think Time Machine backs them up.

Where is File Stream storing these offline files? Is there a way to back them up, or to access them when the program is not running?

Just for clarity’s sake: I am interested in the answers to these questions on MacOS, specifically in Catalina, if that makes a difference.

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  • As this is not explicitly about Google Drive File Stream on macOS you run the risk of having it marked as off-topic. You may want to consider making it more explicitly about this service on macOS. – Steve Chambers Apr 2 at 19:17
  • @SteveChambers how about that edit at the end? – mweiss Apr 2 at 19:19
  • Better but unsure. You may want to ask this on a Google discussion group, they might be better equipped to answer that question... – Steve Chambers Apr 2 at 19:23
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By default, Google Drive for desktop (formerly known as Google Drive File Stream) stores cached files in ~/Library/Application Support/Google/DriveFS/$account_id/content_cache, where $account_id is the numeric ID of your google account. The files aren't encrypted or anything, but they don't have any metadata (or even their original filenames) so I don't think you'll find them terribly useful. The metadata seems to be stored in various SQLite databases in in the $account_id folder. In an emergency an expert might be able to reconstruct the original file names and folder structure.

If you want a full backup of your Google Drive, you can try backing up the Google Drive volume itself (/Volumes/GoogleDrive), while Google Drive for desktop is running.

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