How Google Drive Crashed Our Verizon DSL For Almost a Month

File this one under “never in a million years” and “crazy shit like this only happens to small business owners who are already time-crunched.” On the off chance that someone else runs into the same issue, I decided to post the email exchange I had with Google Apps Enterprise Support. I/we aren’t really that mad, just happy to finally solve the issue and get back to work, while also a little perplexed that GDrive can effectively take down a business class DSL network.

My email from this morning:

We recently experienced a very odd issue with Google Drive.

The only internet option at our warehouse/office is DSL. Our speeds quoted by Verizon are “up to 5.0M/768K” and we usually get pretty close to that.

About a month ago we started experiencing extremely slow speeds in the morning from roughly 8 AM to noon. Speeds generally slowed to about 0.15M download, which is completely unworkable.

After days lost on the phone with Verizon, two onsite visits from their tech support, and three routers, we narrowed the problem down to one of our employee’s computers.

We then studied his network activity and to our surprise it turned out that his Google Drive was overloading the network and crashing our speeds. Every day before he leaves his creates a backup of our accounting books, and then each morning it was uploading the roughly 200 MB file to Google Drive for about 4 hours causing our download speeds to be reduced to the aforementioned 0.15 M or less!

The simple solution was to just stop using Google Drive to back up this file. Since we stopped doing that, speeds have returned to normal.

Is this a problem you’re aware of? Is there a fix, or a plan to implement a fix in the near future?

I realize our speeds are not exceptionally fast, but there must be a lot of businesses and consumers in our situation where those DSL speeds are the best they can get.

We have Dropbox and Carbonite running on some of our computers backing up much larger files and we’ve never had such an issue with them, so it seems as though this is something that can be solved.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

Adam McFarland
Co-Owner, Pure Adapt Inc

Here’s the email from Google, which to their credit came in less than an hour and wasn’t totally a cut & paste job. Although I’d obviously love to know a bit more about why this happened, I’m pretty satisfied with the response.

Hello Adam,

Thank you for your message, I understand you have issue in syncing a large file (200 MB) every day to have your accounting books backed-up and is staking long to get uploaded and is taking bandwidth from your network

A walkaround will be to start uploading the file before the user leaves so it will not interfere on the daily operation of your business.

Thank you for providing us with this suggestion for Google Apps Drive. We’re continually working to improve our offering based on the input we receive from our users.

I’ve recorded your feature request and submitted it to the appropriate team.

While I certainly understand your interest in staying updated on this feature, please note that Google handles feature requests on a rolling basis. Although the appropriate team is aware of this request, it’s not possible for us to provide updates for each individual customer on the status of their request, nor guarantee its implementation. I recommend you check out the Google Apps Blog at http://googleappsupdates.blogspot.com/ for updates (you can sign up for email notifications on new features), or reference the Help Forum to follow updated reports among users.

Thanks again for your patience, and please let me know if you have any questions.

Sincerely,

{Name}
Enterprise Support

Again, we’re just happy this is over. I hope it never happens to anyone else. I don’t even want to attempt to calculate the man-hours of productivity lost because of it. If it does happen to you, and you Googled it and ended up here, I hope I save you some headaches…and if you don’t mind, please post a comment or drop me an email because I’m super curious if we’re the only ones!

8 comments on How Google Drive Crashed Our Verizon DSL For Almost a Month

  1. Rob says:

    I’m not sure I fully follow – was the problem that Google drive saturated the connection while syncing? If so, that could be solved with QoS on your router or as they say, by running the sync overnight.

    Another thing that comes to mind is why in the hell would it sync a whole file rather than just the delta? It’s just a massive waste of bandwidth and server resources to sync the whole file.

    Also, I seem to remember carbonite has a worrying “feature” (bug) where if you sync an external hard disk to it and then don’t connect the disk for 30 days it drops the backup. I use Crashplan/Crashplan+ which doesn’t have this problem.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      I’ll try to do a better job explaining 🙂

      was the problem that Google drive saturated the connection while syncing?

      Essentially, yes. I’m not enough of a network expert to understand how/why, but Verizon was pretty stumped as well and it’s not something they seemed to have ever seen before. The whole time both us and Verizon assumed it was something with our incoming line, we were sniffing in the wrong spot.

      If so, that could be solved with QoS on your router or as they say, by running the sync overnight.

      Yes probably. This sync is like our 3rd and 4th backup so it wasn’t really necessary. We pay 2 companies for backup services in the cloud, including Quickbooks themselves. We’ve just been having him (and all of our employees) save all of his files to GDrive. Rather than waste anymore time with this, we just have him saving the file locally as a 3rd backup.

      Another thing that comes to mind is why in the hell would it sync a whole file rather than just the delta? It’s just a massive waste of bandwidth and server resources to sync the whole file.

      The file was unique each day, which was part of the problem. We do our accounting on a remote virtual machine (long story as to why, but basically it’s the easiest way to give multiple people access to QB). I believe each day he was downloading a new backup and naming it based upon the date (i.e. backup_9_20_2012) so GDrive saw an entirely new file to backup.

      We spent 95% of our time with no idea as to what was causing this massive problem, so when we did figure out what it was and learned that there was a simple solution – stop the GDrive sync – we just did that and moved on. If it was a more important backup/sync, we’d put more effort into it for sure.

      Re. Carbonite: I do recall that, although I can’t find it on their site at the moment. I pay for it on a personal level to backup my laptop, both work and personal stuff. Anything critical to the business is in the cloud elsewhere as well. I have my files from high school, college, and all of my jobs in this laptop so I need the extra backup! I’ve been meaning to also set up a local backup, but for now having everything in the cloud is the most important.

  2. […] we had that weird issue with Google Drive, I heard back from support within hours and it was a pretty well thought out response (although it […]

  3. Aaron Smith says:

    The same thing happened when my wife moved all of her photos onto google drive on her computer at the office. It completely saturated the connection and nearly paralyzed our 4 person office for the three days it took to figure out what was going on. We figured it out last Friday (11/16/12), so the problem clearly has not been fixed yet .

    A QOS router might be able to solve this problem, but so could google. We have used dropbox for years with several hundred gbytes of data and have never had anything similar happen.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Sorry to hear that Aaron. Glad you were at least able to figure it out. We actually noticed the slowdown again the other day, but quickly realized it was a different employee uploading a bunch of raw image files and quickly turned it off. Definitely a thumbs down for relying on Google Drive.

  4. Eno says:

    Technically, Google Drive did not “crash” your DSL (a crash is when some software stops running unexpectedly – obviously your DSL network is not a program). Most probably, as others have pointed out, its simply your upload bandwidth becoming saturated.

  5. Feedback says:

    My internet didn’t just slow down, it was rendered completely useless. I was running on 28 KBPS!! That’s down from a 20 MBPS. I accused my ISP of network throttling and argued with them all day. Once they rebooted my modem, it seemed to have fixed the problem.

    And then I turned on Google Drive again. Bam! The internet went off. I felt like a fool. The thrifty folder-sharing program I had installed just two days ago was destroying my connection. At first it was only a couple MB, but I was syncing 5 GB worth of books, pictures, PDFs and presentations at the same time.

    For some reason GDrive wants to use all the bandwith at once, not caring about the fact that without internet connection, GDrive can’t sync at all anyway.

    What a horrible program. Google should make it a priority to fix these issues as soon as possible.

  6. CHRIS says:

    Same problem here with GD and my .PST file. GD takes all the bandwidth and then renders the rest of the internet connected network useless. I also sync the same files on OneDrive and do NOT have the same problem. Time to ditch GD and just stick with OneDrive.

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