Data loss with Google Drive

I’ve just had my second data loss from Obsidian and while I love this app, I am furious and have lost trust.

Twice now, in the standard process of taking notes, I suddenly find the data has disappeared. I’m on a fully updated Mac and my Vault is in a Google Drive folder.
I can’t even tell why it happened. The app didn’t crash. Google Drive didn’t seem to do anything. Several .md files suddenly lost hours of changes with no sign of why. No version history in Google.

How is this possible? Is there some hope to save it?

Most important: Why should I trust Obsidian with another byte of data?

Why is it necessarily Obsidian’s fault and not Google Drive (which has a spotty record when it comes to data reliability) when thousands of users use Obsidian for hours per day without any problems?


It is possible Drive cause the problem… but the files are physically on my computer. So why would the .md just fail to save to my disk?

To be clear, Google Drive is usually plenty safe for working on any kind of document. In fact, 95% of the active work I do is on files in a Google Drive folder. Obsidian is the only app I’ve used (aside from Microsoft Office gag) that has betrayed me like this.

Maybe your system has issues, maybe it has with Google Drive (which often runs into problems when syncing frequent disk access data, which is why, for instance, you should never trust it with Scrivener projects).

I’m just saying that your anger directed at Obsidian seems premature, since if there was such a serious data leak, you would see thousands of angry posts on these forums. Maybe you have another issue and Obsidian has nothing to do with it.


Why then do no other apps lose data when editing things stored in a Google Drive folder?

I do plenty of coding and markdown writing plus things like google docs and microsoft office docs. I have never lost data in this way with anything other than Obsidian. Makes me feel like it’s the early 2000’s.

Scrivener does.


I’m just looking for some constructive reply about how to use Obsidian safely.

Is the only way to have safely synchronized Obsidian notes then to use the Synch and back-up service they provide?

If putting my vault in a non-drive folder is the answer, I’ll consider that… would it be safer in an iCloud folder? Does it have to be on a non-connected folder?

This did not look like it from your first post which was just angry venting against Obsidian without proof. It seemed on the contrary that you never wanted to touch it again.

Even though many users use several sync services on the same vault, I believe it’s calling for trouble. iCloud works well for many people but the service feature where it uploads files to the cloud to free space up does not seem fool-proof.

In a year of using Obsidian, I never ran into any issues using Dropbox, then switching later to the Obsidian sync service. Many people also use git with great success. If you code, setting up git shouldn’t be an issue for you.


Was definitely thinking to use Git… but I’m in the middle of a meeting taking notes, no time to lay down a commit.

There must problem beyond a Drive synch problem…

I have been using Obsidian for the past four months and use Dropbox and Git in conjunction with each other and have had no issues with data loss. I run a script once a day that backs up my data to GitHub, but some people do it more frequently. There’s a plugin called Obsidian Git that lets you commit and push your commits at whatever time interval you choose.


I use iCloud and didn’t encounter any trouble so far … even while running into Kernel panics :blush: .

I find it way easier when it comes to consult my notes on iPad/iPhone (the revision history of the files using the very basic TextEdit app on my Mac is useful too :blush: ).

I’m not a huge fan of Google Drive and since iCloud is accessible on all my devices I barely use Dropbox anymore… and just in case, I’ll probably back-up my vaults on GitHub too (through plugin) :blush: .

Please also mention your Obsidian version. There has been a change regarding sync conflicts in the latest version 0.11.6.


This is a poorly constructed bug report.

  • missing version
  • plug-in usage not enumerated
  • unclear repro steps
  • tone

IMO the “Obsidian is not safe” claim in the title should be removed. It’s an extraordinary claim without extraordinary evidence.


I’m more concerned about this. Obsidian auto-save your file 2 seconds after you stop typing. If the save fails you should have seen a notice within the app about that.

Given you aren’t seeing any history in GDrive at all, I wonder if GDrive is actually picking up your files at all. I’m not familiar with GDrive though, perhaps run through some tests first to see what’s going on with the setup.

The files that you have on google drive, are they really on your computer or they are only virtually there? Sometimes, Google drive and other sync apps, have the option to keep part of your files only on the cloud. The files that are not phisically on your computer, may still appear to be there but they are just virtual links.
The fact that there is no version history recorded by GDrive makes me think this might be the case.

Sorry about the dramatic “Obsidian not safe”. Losing several hours of notes gets a bit emotional :slight_smile: and I am not an frequent bug-reporter. Should have known better.

Version is v0.11.5. Only using core plugins, most are activated. Not using plugins: Sync, Publish, Audio Record, Slides or Zettelkasten prefixer.

Running macOS Big Sur, Intel-chipped 2019 MacBook Pro.

Regarding reproduce steps: that’s a challenge.

  1. Vault is located in my ~/Google Drive/ folder. All notes I create should begin their life as local files before being copied to the cloud. I don’t currently have any other machines syncing to google drive, so it isn’t a conflict with other computers. Nor is it a network connectivity issue.
  2. At some point during the course of taking notes. As far as I can tell, I lost something that was previously created. I made changes to it. I might have closed it or switched it to preview mode, and suddenly the changes were gone.
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There ought certainly to be a version history in the cloud. If there isn’t then, as Licat suggests, it would seem that your local Drive folder isn’t syncing. Would definitely be worth checking your settings.

In any case, GDrive deletes old, non-current, versions unless you set the file specifically to keep them.
Although I have all of them, I prefer Box and Dropbox for this type of active syncing for programs like Obsidian and Scrivener.

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Interesting. Any particular reason you feel alternatives like Box or Dropbox are safer?

On the one hand, I’m pretty convinced it was Obsidian per se. On the other, I don’t understand quite what I did wrong, which is the scary part.

This might verge on a feature-thought:
I do lots of coding and markdown using Rstudio. I always work on active files stored in Google Drive. Saving in the Rstudio IDE is expected to be manual (command + S). But if Rstudio quits and there are unsaved changes, those changes are by default stored in a local, non-cloud drive file, so on re-opening, the user looses nothing. Would something like this be possible or relevant for Obsidian?

Similarly, anyone using gDocs will know that losing any changes just does not happen, whether or not docs are stored locally. One becomes habituated to not manually saving things.

Did you check your google drive settings if you have nonlocal files?

How is it possible that you have no history for changes?!?

Yes, I checked Drive settings. Files are local. I am sure. In general, there is history of changes. The problem is a randomly lost few hours of changes which were never tracked and disappeared from Obsidian.