How to Stop Google Drive From Syncing in 2021

Is Google Drive constantly downloading files to your computer and taking up space? Read this guide for step-by-step instructions on how to stop Google Drive from syncing and save space on your computer.

Robin Barber
By Robin Barber (Assistant Editor)
— Last Updated: 2021-10-04T12:29:43+00:00 Facts checked by Andrea Babic

Google Drive is one of the best cloud storage services available, and file syncing is just one of the many free features it comes with. However, not everyone will want to sync their data all the time. In this article, we’ll explain how to stop Google Drive from syncing to your computer, both through your browser and the “backup and sync” application.

Key Takeaways: 

  • To save space on your computer or prevent constant uploads, you should turn off syncing in Google Drive.
  • You can disable offline access to your files through your browser.
  • The “backup and sync” app lets you pause syncing quickly. 
  • You can also disable syncing long term for some or all folders within the “preferences” window.

Being able to sync files easily between any device — even with a Mac or smartphone — is one of the many benefits of using Google Drive. Although this can be incredibly helpful for creating a backup, it does limit your ability to save space, and you can still share files without syncing to your account.

If you want to stop using Google Drive completely, you can just click the “disconnect account” button and sign back in when you next need to use it. However, this also makes it harder to share or upload files. Instead, we recommend that you change your settings, limiting it to set folders or turning some features off.

  • Google Drive is a cloud storage provider, mainly known for its generous 15GB free plan and the full integration with Google Workspace. As a cloud storage service, its main purpose is to store your data on remote servers so that you can download, edit and share your data from any device.

  • Google Drive will keep local copies of certain files so that you can work on them while offline. However, you’ll have to download the “backup and sync” desktop app to keep your drive and your computer in sync automatically.

  • When you set a file to sync with Google Drive, any changes you make while you’re online will be applied to both copies. However, if you’re offline, it will save your changes until your device can access the internet and move the edits to the cloud.

  • The “backup and sync” app lets you pause syncing quickly. However, you can also disable syncing for folders within the “preferences” window. See our detailed steps below for instructions.

How to Stop Google Drive From Syncing 

There are three main ways to stop syncing Google Drive to your computer. The first prevents offline edits from within your browser, while the other two limit Google’s “backup and sync” app. 

1. Stop Syncing via Google Drive on Browser

The first and simplest way to stop your files from syncing is to turn it off in your browser. This will prevent you from editing any Google Docs, Sheets or Slides while you’re offline. However, you will still be able to download these files or access them through Google’s “backup and sync” app.

 2. Turn Off Syncing via Google Drive Backup & Sync Preferences 

If you want Google Drive to stop syncing to your computer, you should either pause it or turn it off in the “backup and sync” app preferences.

  1. Open the “Backup and Sync” Panel

    In the Windows system tray, there will be an icon for “backup and sync.” This will open a panel where you can access some helpful tools and options.

    google drive stop backup and sync panel
    Click on the “backup and sync“ cloud icon in the system tray.
  2. Open Up the “Preferences” Window

    Click on the three dots in the top-right corner of this panel to open a dropdown menu. You can “pause” and “resume” syncing here — a temporary solution that many other services provide, including OneDrive — but for more control, you should choose “preferences.”

    google drive stop backup and sync preferences
    Select either “pause” for a quick solution or “preferences” for more control.
  3. Disable “Sync My Drive to This Computer”

    In the “preferences” window, click on the “Google Drive” tab, find a box labeled “sync my drive to this computer” and uncheck it. This will pause syncing until you turn it back on.

    google drive stop backup and sync uncheck box
    Uncheck the first box in the “Google Drive” tab to disable syncing.
  4. Confirm You Want to Stop Syncing

    When you click “OK” to confirm the changes, a warning box will appear to tell you that your files won’t sync anymore. Click “continue” to finish this process.

    google drive stop backup and sync confirm
    Click “continue” to confirm that you don’t want the files to sync.

3. How to Stop Google Drive From Syncing Folders 

You can also choose to remove any individual folder if you want Google’s “backup and sync” to keep some of your files online but not anything else. Keep in mind that any file or new folder you put into your general “Google Drive” folder will begin to sync automatically.

  1. Select “Sync Only These Folders” in the “Preferences” Window

    Use the previous method to find the “preferences” window and go into the “Google Drive” tab. Here you can choose to “sync only these folders.”

    google drive stop part sync only these folders
    Check the “sync only these folders” box in the “Google Drive” tab.
  2. Choose the Folders You Want to Sync

    Go through your folders and uncheck anything you don’t want to backup. You should check this regularly if you don’t want a new folder to sync.

    google drive stop part sync choose your folders
    Choose what you want to sync between your computer and the cloud.
  3. Confirm You Want to Stop These Folders From Syncing

    Clicking “OK” to confirm these changes will cause a warning box to appear and tell you that some of your files won’t sync anymore. Click “continue” to accept this and finish the process.

    google drive stop part sync confirm
    Confirm your changes by clicking “OK” and then “continue.”

Final Thoughts: How to Stop Google Drive Sync

Online storage is useful, and keeping a backup of your files in the cloud can help prevent data loss or accidental deletion, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always want files to upload constantly. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to stop syncing Google Drive, regardless of whether you prefer to work through a browser or use the “backup and sync” desktop app.

However, if you’re having problems with how files sync with Google Drive, you should try out a different provider. Dropbox is one of the best if you can make use of its “smart sync” and ability to share. However, cloud storage providers like pCloud and Sync.com are great choices for the extra security and better pricing plans. 

Have you stopped Google Drive from syncing? Did you find this article helpful? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading.