Since the internal storage of Chrome OS devices is often limited, I’ll show you here how to synchronize your Google Drive with mostly larger external mass storage devices!
Autosync for Google Drive is an Android app that is capable of synchronizing your cloud storage with your internal and external storage.
There are some restrictions in the free, financed by advertising version: The number of folder pairs you’re allowed to sync, the allowed file size, and the use of multiple accounts are, among other things, limited. For a few bucks, you can unlock these restrictions to varying degrees.
If you want to test and understand what I am describing to you now, the limited version should suffice.
Notes for beginners: My posts usually contain some basics that you can understand how to proceed. I partly repeat the basics in other posts, so you don’t have to jump back and forth all the time.
Here is the meaning of the abbreviations after the headings: [E] Everyone [A] Advanced [B] Beginner [P] Professional
If you still miss something, feel free to comment. The community will try to help you! 🙂
Notes for professionals: My posts usually have the form of a knowledge base entry and should be equally suitable for beginners, advanced users, and professionals. Just pick out what you need immediately. You can also find content specifically targeted to professionals. These are marked accordingly with [P] and other finger points.
Do you want to have more professional content on a topic? Add it to the comments 😉
Disclaimer of liability: As always on this blog, I warn you that all changes to your system mentioned in this post are at your own risk! It is theoretically possible that there are system or application errors that could lead to data loss and further problems!
Setting up the App
If you installed the app from the Play Store, a few steps are necessary before you can start the first synchronization.
Signing in to your Google Account and Google Drive is quick if you want to use the same account you’re currently signed in to your Chrome OS device:
Otherwise, you can “add another account,” and of course you have to authenticate yourself with the system:
How to set up a folder synchronization
If you now choose the option that you want to set up your first folder pair yourself, you can start right away!
Tip: If you have the free and restricted version and are not sure whether the restrictions apply to your folder contents, you can simply choose the “test folder pair.“
Click in the field below “Folder in Google Drive:”
Then navigate to a source folder:
Confirm your selection with the “Select” button.
Repeat this for a destination folder by clicking on the field below “Local folder on device:”
You can now select your internal and external data media here. However, you may have to grant the app extended access rights. So, if you get corresponding messages, you would have to confirm them and agree to the permission requests. If you want that, you can skip the following section.
I’ll explain wow you can control this directly via the settings in the next section.
How to grant access to external storage to the app
At the top right of the app, there is a button with four dots stacked on top of each other. If you click on them and select “Settings” in the context menu that appears, you’ll call them up:
Under “Files and folders” you will find an option “Write access SD cards” for granting extended access rights to external storage such as SD cards:
In the dialog that opens, you can see the status of the write access:
As you can see in the screenshot, I already have a folder shared. But now I want to allow the write access to an external storage, just like you do. To do so, you have to click the “Allow write access” button. Before you start, the app will inform you about how to allow the write access:
The link “Online User Guide” refers to what, I think, is an old article about SD card access from older Android versions. With “PERMIT WRITING ACCESS,” you close the info dialog, and I describe here precisely how to proceed:
On the left side, you will now see your internal and external storage. A USB symbol in front of the line highlights external storage. For me, that’s an external 1 TB USB-C-SSD. For you, it perhaps is an SD card, a USB stick, or a USB hard disk. All these possibilities are supported here. You just need to format them in a format that can be read by Android apps on Chrome OS, such as exFAT.
If you now select the desired data medium by clicking on it, the following dialog appears:
Here the contents from the top level of the selected medium (the root directory) are displayed. You have to select exactly this top-level with “SELECT” to grant write access to it successfully.
In most cases, that should work without any problems. The result of this procedure is shown here again:
You can then use the “left arrow” button at the top of the left-hand side to go back to where we came from, namely to set up a folder synchronization.
How to complete it is explained in the next section!
Completing the setup of the folder synchronization
Now navigate to a destination folder on the external data medium to which we have just granted write access.
If it doesn’t exist yet, you can create it by clicking on “Create folder.” Autosync supports you in this process and automatically suggests the name of the source folder as name:
Of course, you can change this as you like. When you’re finally satisfied with the name, click on “Create.”
Then you land directly in the new destination folder:
Now confirm your folder pair with the “Select” button.
You will then be shown an overview of your previous configuration:
For the synchronization method, “Up- and Download” is preselected as default. That means that regardless of where (cloud or local) a file is created, modified, or deleted, synchronization takes place in both directions. If you don’t want that, you can change it as you like.
You can now save your folder pair by clicking the “SAVE” button. Then an overview of all your configured “SYNCED-FOLDER” will appear:
If you now click on the sync icon, Autosync will immediately start synchronizing the contents of the folder pair.
How to set up an automatic background synchronization
With the default settings, an automatic synchronization takes place in the background, continuously repeating itself:
You can disable that in the settings if you want.
Attention: If you switch between your devices, the background synchronization will take some time. So don’t worry if it seems at first that your latest changes are not yet visible on the other device!
Tip: If you want to increase the speed of synchronization, it’s better to create multiple pairs of folders, so you don’t organize all your files into very, very few folders.
If your destination folder has enough space for the data from the source folder, this should always work successfully.
You can view the status of the last synchronization here:
Are you interested in details, or do you want to check if there were any errors? Then open the “SYNC HISTORY:”
By the way, there is also a variant of the app for Microsoft OneDrive. I’ll show you how this works in another post. The setup is pretty much the same.
How to access the synchronized files?
With the Files app of Chrome OS
Of course, you can easily access your synchronized files with the Files app of Chrome OS:
For example, you can open PDF documents directly with the Chrome OS-PDF application:
With an Android app
With Android apps, you can also find the files. So, for example, you can open PDF documents with the Adobe PDF Reader app:
Here the opened PDF file:
However, you may also need to allow file access for the respective app.
Attention: Not all Android apps can do this because they have implemented read and write access to external data sources differently. Some Android apps, such as our Autosync, can modify files without restrictions. But some apps can only read files and not write them!
With applications in the Linux of Chrome OS
You can right-click to share folders with the Linux of Chrome OS so that you can get access to your synchronized files from there too:
You’ll have to confirm that here, just to be safe:
Then you can also find your synchronized files in the Linux of Chrome OS.
Here is an example of the file manager Double Commander, which I introduced to you in this post:
That’s it! Enjoy it! 🙂
Words in italics may be registered trademarks or companies! Examples: Google, YouTube, and Android. Or they are technical terms from the IT world, which are described in various locations in the blog.