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Google Drive documents list goes empty for users

A problem wiped out the list of documents for many people using Google's online tools for word processing and spreadsheets. The data remained intact, though, and Google said the problem is fixed.

An empty Google Drive documents list disconcerted users.
An empty Google Drive documents list disconcerted users.
Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Some Google Drive users discovered their list of documents to be empty on Friday, though the documents themselves appeared to remain intact.

Several readers reported the problem, in which the Google Drive page was devoid of Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides files as well as other files stored in Google's cloud-synchronized, Web-based tools.

However, at least in some cases, open documents still worked, new documents could be created, existing documents could be found through the Web page's search bar, and local search on a person's computer could retrieve files stored on local hard drives.

Google's status tracker reported the problem at noon PT with this message: "We're investigating reports of an issue with Google Drive. We will provide more information shortly."

At 12:15 p.m., the documents reappeared at least for some users, and Google said the issue was fixed: "The problem with Google Drive should be resolved. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your patience and continued support. Please rest assured that system reliability is a top priority at Google, and we are making continuous improvements to make our systems better."

The prospect of disappearing files can be disconcerting, though -- especially since Google Drive can be used to synchronize files with people's computers.

"Glad I have @backupify [and] also turned off sync," tweeted Matthew Goldman, founder and chief executive of Wallaby Financial.

Some operations produced an error message from Google: "The server encountered an error. Please try again later."

CNET contacted Google for comment and will update this post with the company's response.

Updated 12:21 p.m. and 12:37 p.m. PT with further information and news that the issue is fixed.