How to backup files on Linux to Google Drive

Google Drive is a great vehicle for people who need to store online copies of files. Linux users can take advantage of Google Drive’s free 15GB plan to back up essential configuration files. Furthermore, you can back up large amounts of data, including media files, if you have a working Google Workspace (formerly G-Suite) plan.

This guide will show how you can automatically back up files in Linux to Google Drive using the open source google-drive-ocamlfuse and CRON package.

What is Google-drive-ocamlfuse?

Google-drive-ocamlfuse is a FUSE file system that allows users to mount their Google Drive storage on their local machine. It is written in OCaml and is freely available via GitHub. Some of the key features of google-drive-ocamlfuse include full read / write access, support for multiple accounts, Unix permissions, and Team Drive support.

How to use google-drive-ocamlfuse for automatic backups

The first step is to mount the remote Google Drive to the local file system. This is where google-drive-ocamlfuse comes into play. You can then use an automatic scheduler to periodically move files to drive. To keep things simple, use the Linux CRON utility to handle the scheduling process. (You can also use Zeit to schedule cron jobs).

Install and configure google-drive-ocamlfuse

First, you need to install google-drive-ocamlfuse on your Linux machine. Fortunately, this is very simple. Activate Terminal and enter the following command at the prompt.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:alessandro-strada/ppa

It will add the required package to the package manager’s repository list. You can go ahead and install the package using the following commands.

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# Debian / Ubuntu

sudo apt update && sudo apt install google-drive-ocamlfuse

# Fedora

sudo dnf copr enable sergiomb/google-drive-ocamlfuse
sudo dnf install google-drive-ocamlfuse

# Arch

yay -S google-drive-ocamlfuse

Wait until the installation is finished. When it’s done, you’ll need to configure it for mount purposes. The first step for this is to create a mount point for Google Drive in the local file system. You can do this by entering the command below into Terminal.

mkdir -p ~/mount/google-drive

Next, mount the drive memory with the following command:

google-drive-ocamlfuse ~/mount/google-drive

google-drive-ocamlfuse will open the default browser and redirect to the account verification page for Google Drive. Select the account you want to mount locally.

Select the account you want to mount locally
Select the account you want to mount locally

Enter the password for the selected account for authentication.

Enter the password for authentication
Enter the password for authentication

Next, Google will ask for permission to access google-drive-ocamlfuse. Click “Allow” and move on to the next page.

You will be asked to allow access to your user account again.

After you give your permission, it will redirect you to the google-drive-ocamlfuse website. Congratulations, you’ve successfully mounted your Google Drive account to the local file system.

The Google Drive account has been successfully mounted on the local file system
The Google Drive account has been successfully mounted on the local file system

Now is a good time to verify if mount for Google Drive is going well or not. If this stage fails, you cannot use it to back up files to Google Drive. Use the command below to verify this.

ls -l ~/mount/google-drive/

The output will display a list of files and folders in Google Drive storage. If everything goes as expected, you can proceed with configuring the backup scheduler.

Backup files to Google Drive using CRON

Backing up understands simply the operation of copying. Since Google Drive is already mounted, you can copy the file to it as part of the local filesystem. You can verify this by running the following command:

touch test-file
cp test-file ~/mount/google-drive/

The command will copy the test file into memory. Use the ls command to verify if it has been successfully copied to Google Drive.

ls ~/mount/google-drive/

Now that everything is ready, let’s configure cron to automate the backup process. If you didn’t already know, cron is a scheduler that allows users to run certain commands periodically. You can specify which commands to run and when to run them using crontab.

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The post is using the following crontab entry to copy directory contents “/ Tmp” to Google Drive at 00:00 daily.

0 0 * * * cp /tmp/ ~/mount/google-drive/

If you want to back up your files once a week, use the following crontab section.

0 0 * * 0 cp /tmp/ ~/mount/google-drive/

The command will copy the contents of “/ tmp” into memory at 00:00 every Sunday. Replace “/ tmp” with the directory containing your personal files. However, there is one final step. None of the above crontab entries will automatically mount Google Drive.

A quick solution to this is to mount the memory with another crontab entry, then track it with that item for backup.

55 23 * * 0 google-drive-ocamlfuse ~/mount/google-drive
0 0 * * 0 cp /tmp/ ~/mount/google-drive/

As you can see, the example will mount the drive 5 minutes early. It gives cron enough time to make sure that the backup is not missed due to the initialization problem. Use the command below to edit the crontab and add the above lines.

Edit crontab
Edit crontab

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