How to back up documents with Google Drive

Download printable PDF version of these instructions [PDF, 355 KB]

This guide is for people who create, edit, and store files on their Windows computer and want to backup files and folders to Google Drive (rather than working mostly online through Google Drive). Refer to:

Viewing backed up files in Google Drive

After you have backed up folders to Google Drive online, to see the folders from your computer you have backed up:

  1. Open your browser
  2. Type in
    You will now see:
    Screenshot of Google Drive with 'Computers', 'My PC', 'Training' selected on menu.
  3. Expand Computers.
  4. Click on the device’s folder (for example, My PC, My computer) to view the folders and files from your computer that have been backed up to Google Drive online.

Viewing backup & sync progress

Anytime you want to see the progress in syncing files or folders:

  1. Click the Google Drive icon on your task
    You will now see the activity pane:
    Activity pane showing 'Test Doc.csv', 'Training', 'My PC' ticked with message 'Everything is up to date'.
    To close the pane:
  2. Click away from the pane.

How to back up a folder using Google Drive for desktop 

  1. Decide which folder you want to back up to Google Drive (it must be a folder, not a file).
  2. Click the Google Drive icon Triangular google drive icon. on your task bar - you may need to select the arrow to view hidden applications:
    Arrow pointing up on bottom of computer screen to google drive icon.
    The Google Drive for desktop app will open.
    Screenshot of settings cog with 'Preferences' selected.
  3. Click on the Settings Cog on the top right of the app (‘1’ in Figure D).
  4. Select Preferences (‘2’ in Figure D).
    You will now see:
    Screenshot of 'My Laptop' selected on Google Drive, then 'Add folder'.
  5. Select My Laptop (it may say My computer).
  6. Select Add folder.
    You will now see:
    Screenshot of file explorer with folder title 'training' selected.
  7. Navigate to the folder to be backed up (‘1’ in Figure F).
  8. Click Select folder (‘2’ in Figure F).
    You will now see:
    Screenshot of 'Settings' page with 'Training' folder selected, tick box next to 'Sync with Google Drive', then 'Done' selected.
  9. Check the folder is the correct one (‘1’ in Figure G).
  10. Select Sync with Google Drive (‘2’).
  11. Click Done (‘3’ in Figure G).12.
  12. Click away to close the Google Drive for desktop app.

Backing up more folders

You can either add more folders by repeating steps 1 to 12 above,


  1. Navigate to the folder you want to backup.
    You will now see:
    File selected in file explorer, right click box expanded to select 'Sync or backup this folder'.
  2. Right click on the folder name (‘1’ in Figure H).
  3. Select Sync or Backup this folder (‘2’ in Figure H).
    You will now see:
    Settings folder with 'Training' selected, then 'Sync with Google Drive' ticked, and 'Done' selected.
  4. Check the folder(s) is the correct one(s) (‘1’ in Figure G).
  5. Select Sync with Google Drive (‘2’).
  6. Click Done (‘3’ in Figure G).
  7. Click away to close the Google Drive for desktop app.

Back up individual files by moving them to backed up folders

To back up individual files, you need to move them to a backed up folder:

  1. Open File Explorer.
  2. Decide which of your folders with offline access you will move your file or folder to.
  3. Navigate to the folder or file to be moved.
    You will now see:
    Folder selected in file explorer, right click box expanded with 'cut' selected.
  4. Right click on the folder or file. (‘1’ in Figure J).
  5. Select Cut (‘2’ in Figure J).
  6. Navigate to your selected backed up folder.
  7. Double click on the backed up folder’s name to open it.
  8. Right click anywhere inside the folder.
  9. Select paste.

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback