Google Drive, the RAM Eater: Are Shared Files Slowing Down Your Computer?

We love using Google Drive, but its best features have a bit of a dark side: Syncing lots of files from lots of different users doesn’t always make for a happy computer, and a few of us have noticed that Google Drive is slowing our computers down and sucking up battery life. The good news? There’s a solution: A few simple changes have made it possible for us to use Google Drive as much as ever without sacrificing RAM or battery life.

Here at Infomedia, we use Google Drive constantly. Google Drive keeps files and folders synced between lots of different devices and users, all in real time. That means everyone on a project has immediate access to updated files and client information, which keeps us efficient and makes connecting over projects a lot easier. But Google Drive’s best features have a bit of a dark side: Syncing lots of files from lots of different users doesn’t always make for a happy computer, and a few of us have noticed that Google Drive is slowing our computers down and sucking up battery life. The good news? There’s a solution: A few simple changes have made it possible for us to use Google Drive as much as ever without sacrificing RAM or battery life.

Your Computer Is Slow: Is Google Drive the Reason?

Here’s the scenario: Your computer is running slow. Your mouse feels like it’s dragging itself through molasses. That program you clicked 10 minutes ago still hasn’t launched, and shows no sign of launching within the next hour. Your RAM usage is scraping its skull across the top of 100%. “Why?!?!” you ask yourself as you contemplate sliding your entire desk and everything on it out the closest window. If you’re using Google Drive, you might have found your culprit.

What’s Happening — Why Is Google Drive Making Your Computer Slower?

Because Google Drive is syncing changes made by multiple users, your computer is constantly being asked to update those changes. Files are being updated, deleted, and moved, and you’re at the mercy of your machine. What’s happening? Here’s the scenario: Steve in accounting opens the monthly budget spreadsheet, makes a couple of changes, and saves it. Jennifer down the hall just uploaded 13 new, high-resolution pictures of her cat. Gary just accidentally created four copies of his 3GB PowerPoint presentation. Tammy decided to backup her entire “Trip to Europe” folder three days ago and it’s been running ever since.driveee

All these changes are being synced to your computer, even though you’re not making them. And because lots of those changes are big, your RAM is suffering. So all those cat and European adventure pictures are slowing your computer down so much that opening the Microsoft Word document you’re trying to edit takes 37 minutes. Thanks a lot, Tammy.

So what’s the solution? How can you use Google Drive without slowing down your computer?

Option 1: The Ole Have-you-tried-turning-it-off-and-back-on-again Method

Turn Google Drive off, and then turn Google Drive back on again. Sometimes the simplest solution to Google Drive’s consuming your precious RAM is to simply stop it from running. Here’s how to do it:

To Stop Google Drive from Running in Windows:

  • Open your task manager by pressing “Ctrl + Shift + Esc”
  • Find and select googledrivesync.exe
  • Click “End Process”
  • Reopen Google Drive and you should be back up and running smoothly.

To Stop Google Drive from Running on a Mac:

  • Open the “Force Quit Applications Window” by pressing “Command + Option + Escape”
  • Select Google Drive
  • Click “Force Quit”
  • Reopen Google Drive and you should be back up and running smoothly.

 

Option 2: The Preventative Method

Option 1 is a way to stop Google Drive from consuming even more resources once it’s reached a barbaric, ravenous state. This second option is a way to help prevent it from ever reaching that point.

Within your Google Drive settings, you are able to set which files should sync. So, rather than syncing all of your company’s 350 Folders and 27,000 files, you can opt-in to just sync the folders and files you work with the most.

How to Sync Individual Folders in Google Drive:

  1. Organize your files into folders that you plan to sync.
  2. On your desktop, click the Google Drive icon .
    • On a Mac, the icon is usually found in the menu bar at the top right of your desktop screen.
    • On a PC, the icon is usually found in the taskbar in the bottom right of your desktop screen.
  3. In the top right, click the overflow menu.
  4. Select Preferences.
  5. Check the box next to “Only sync some folders to this computer.”
  6. Select which folders you’d like to sync to your Google Drive folder.
  7. Click Apply changes.

 

So, there you have it. With your newfound knowledge, you’ll be well on your way to finishing that report — just in time for Gary’s presentation (it’s also about cats). I’d also suggest reading a little about what Google has to say about Google Drive — read about how to sync files with Google Drive direct from Google here; their article has has lots of other helpful Google Drive tips that will help make your Google Drive experience a great one.

a smiling man in a plaid shirt

Jonathan started his career in print design, but he quickly saw the potential of website design. Always looking for a new challenge, Jonathan taught himself development so he could bring his own designs to life; now he’s one of our most talented programmers. He loves board games, card games, and pranking coworkers (not necessarily in that order). Voted Infomedian Most Likely to Write Fantasy Novels, he’s serious about storytelling and is always eager to discuss the plot holes in about whatever popular book/movie/TV show everyone’s talking about. When not at work, Jonathan’s usually hanging out with his wife, Chandra, and their son.


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