Computer Backup Instructions

Last modified on 04/03/2020

How to back up your Mac or PC using Google's Backup & Sync software. Installation instructions are Mac specific. Includes instructions on recovering files from the backup.






This article will show you how to use Google's Backup and Sync software to back up important files on your computer to Google Drive. Once installed, Backup and Sync will work in the background automatically backing up your important data. Unlike personal Google Drive accounts which are capped at 15GB of storage, our TTSD Google Drive accounts do not have a storage limit.

Important: Google Backup and Sync is a syncing solution. It will try to keep your selected computer folders in sync with Google Drive. If you delete a file on your computer, it will be deleted from Google Drive as well.



Our staff acceptable use policy states that staff will "protect student data and confidential student information..." This includes deleting, in a timely fashion, student data that is no longer needed. With automatic backups, it can be easy to forget to fully delete files with student data.

  • Recommendation: Student data (eg class rosters) that are only needed on a temporary basis should in a folder that is not backed up.
  • Recommendation: Review, on a regular basis, the contents of your backup folder on Google Drive for student data that should be removed.


Browser Bookmarks & Settings

Firefox and Chrome both offer the ability to sync your bookmarks and other settings if you are signed in to the browser. This effectively serves as a backup of this information, so there is no need to back this information up via Google Backup and Sync.Signing in to Firefox or Chrome on a different computer will automatically restore your bookmarks and other settings. Visit each browsers' preference/settings screen to turn on syncing if you would like to preserve this information. Check in with your building tech if you need help with this process.



Make note of your "must have" applications. Mac users can look at the Applications folder. PC users can click on the "Start" button to see a list. You can jot them down manually or take a screenshot. Backing up applications using Google Backup & Sync is not practical as the support files needed by an application can be scattered across multiple locationson your computer. Up to date versions of district wide apps will either be pre-installed or available through Self Service on your new computer. You will need to reinstall the current version of other apps manually. 

Download "Google Backup and Sync"

If you don't see the "Backup and Sync From Google" application in your applications folder, follow the instructions below. If you do see it, skip ahead. PC users, your download and application location will be different than the Mac screenshots pictured below. Ask your building tech for help if needed.

Google Backup and Sync download page

Google Backup & Sync intro text


1. Locate the installer file on your computer and double click.

Downloaded file viewed in finder


2. Drag application to your applications folder.

Finder window showing backup & sync icon and prompt to drag it to the applications folder


Launch & Set Up

1. Double click to launch.

Backup & sync application in the applications folder


2. If prompted, click "Open"

macOS warning about opening downloaded application


3. Click "Get Started," then sign in with your full TTSD email address and your TTSD email password.

Google sign in screen - email          Google sign in screen - password


4. By default, Backup and Sync will back up your Desktop, Documents and Pictures folders. You can click "choose folder" to include additional folders.

  • Remember: Do not back up folders that contain student data that is only needed on a temporary basis.
  • Computer Replacement Years: If you will be getting a new computer soon, be sure to read the replacement cycle instructions below.

Initial run preferences


Replacement Cycle Instructions

By default, the backup will get a name like "My MacBook Air" pictured above. When you get a new computer during a replacement cycle, this generic name may lead to confusion when you set up Backup and Sync on your new computer. See picture below with the old computer "My MacBook Air" and the new replacement computer "My MacBook Air (2)."

backup and sync showing two backups with confusingly named folders
These folder names in Google Drive can cause confusion...

To avoid potential confusion, click after the computer name ("My MacBook Air") in Backup and Sync's settings area and change it to something more descriptive like "My OLD Computer."

  • You will need to complete this step after you have finished the initial Backup and Sync setup. Complete setup and then open Backup and Sync's preference (step 9 below) to change the name.

backup and sync. changing the computer name
Super cool descriptive name that will make your life easier when you get your new computer.
When you set up Backup and Sync on your NEW (hint hint...) computer, give it a descriptive name as well. 


This is an example of what you would see in Google Drive if you have given your old and new computers descriptive names in Backup and Sync.

backup and sync folder showing old and new backups with descriptive "old" and "new" naming.
Descriptive names showing up in Google Drive. So much better!



5. Google Backup and Sync can also back up from Google Drive to your computer. We won't be doing this as it would fill up your computer hard drive fast!

  • This is just an information screen so it is safe to click "Got It"

Info on Drive to local backup option. We won't be doing this.


6. Think of this as the "fill up my hard drive" check box. You do not want to check this box! 

Prompt to back up Drive files locally - Don't do it!


7. Click "start." Backup and Sync will work in the background, copying your selected folders to Google Drive. The first run will probably take a long time. Subsequent syncs will be much quicker.

Start button


8. Open Google Drive to view your backup in the new "Computers" area on the left side of the screen. 

backup & sync icon in menu bar        Backed up computer showing in Google Drive


9. The new cloud icon in your menu bar (task bar on PCs) lets you quickly access Backup and Sync. Click on it to access your backup folder (1) or your preferences (2).

backup and sync menu showing icons to access the backup folder or the preferences screen.
1. Access the backup folder on Google Drive
2. Access preferences and other options pictured below.

Backup & sync menu with preferences selected


10. Open preferences and verify that "Ask before removing items everywhere" is set. With this setting, Backup and Sync will:

  • Ask you, when you delete a file on your computer, if you want to also remove it from your Google Drive backup.
  • Ask you, when you delete a file from your Google Drive backup, if you also want to remove it from your computer

Ask before removing anywhere preference

In the example pictured below, I deleted the "Week 10 Lesson Plan" file from the desktop on my computer. I was then presented with two options to keep my computer and Google Drive in sync.

  1. Clicking "Restore" will download the Week 10 Lesson plan file from Google drive and put it back on my computer's desktop, thus restoring it for me.
  2. Clicking "Remove" will remove the Week 10 Lesson Plan file from Google Drive.

Prompt to remove or restore a file recently deleted from my computer's desktop


Restoring Files From Your Drive Backup

The instructions below will move your backed up files to your new computer and remove them from your old computer. So...

  • Do not start this process if you still need access to the files on your old computer or if you don't have time to wait for them to show up on your new computer.
    • Weekends or overnight are good options, timing wise.


1. Follow the instructions above to set up Backup and Sync on your new computer. Hey kids, don't forget to uncheck the "Sync my drive to this computer" box in step 6. During the setup, make sure you give your new computer backup a clever name like "My NEW Computer." This will make your life easier when restoring files.

Note: Steps 2-6 below are also covered in a video at the bottom of this article. If you prefer video instructions, feel free to jump to the bottom of this article.

2. Open Google Drive on your new computer and then open your two backup folders on the left side of the screen using the grey triangles to expose their contents.

  • In this example, I am restoring the desktop files to my new computer.
  • Since my backups are clearly named, it is easy to identify where I am moving my files from (My OLD Computer) and to (My NEW Computer)

Backed up computer showing in Google Drive with old and new computer backup contents showing


3. Select the folder from your old computer you want to restore. When the folder's contents display on the right side of the screen, select the file(s) you want to recover. If you have a LOT of items in a folder, scroll down to the bottom of the page to make sure they are all loaded. In the example below, I selected my Desktop backup folder and then selected all of its contents. Be sure to drag the contents of the folder and not the folder itself. In this example I am dragging the contents of the Desktop folder, not the Desktop folder itself.  

contents of the desktop folder
Pro tip: Click on one file and then cmd-a (Mac) or ctrl-a (PC) to select all files.


4. Drag the selected files from your OLD backup on top of the matching folder in your NEW backup. When the files are on top of the NEW location (you will see it outlined in blue) let go. This will start the transfer process.

dragging selected files from old Desktop to new desktop

5. Repeat the steps above to restore your remaining files. You will see them show up on your NEW computer.


6. Once you are confident all files have transferred to your new computer, control click (Mac) or right click (PC) on "My OLD Computer" (or whatever you named your old computer) and select "Remove" from the menu that appears.

  • This will permanently delete any files in your old computer backup that you haven't transferred so be really really sure. 

removing the OLD backup from Drive


Video - Restoring Files & Browser Bookmarks

Best viewed fullscreen. Covers the restore steps directly above, but also shows you:

  • How to rename your backups if you haven't done so already.
  • How to sign in to Chrome to recover your bookmarks, browser extensions & browser settings.


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