HOWTO: Use 'rclone' to Upload Data from Google Drive

rclone is a tool that can be used to upload and download files to a cloud storage (like Microsoft OneDrive, BuckeyeBox) from the command line. It's shipped as a standalone binary, but requires some user configuration before using. In this page, we will provide instructions on how to use rclone to upload data from Google Drive. For instructions with other cloud storage, check rclone Online documentation.


Before configuration, please first log into OSC OnDemand and request a Pitzer Lightweight Desktop session. Walltime of 1 hour should be sufficient to finish the configuration.  

Once the session is ready, open a terminal. In the terminal, run the command

rclone config

It prompts you with a bunch of questions:

  • It shows "No remotes found -- make a new one" or list available remotes you made before
    •  Answer "n" for "New remote"
  • "name>" (the name for the new remote)
    • Type "GDrive" (or whatever else you want to call this remote)
  • "Storage>" (the storage type of the new remote)
    • This should display a list to choose from. Enter the number corresponding to the "Google Drive" storage type, which is "15".
  • "client_id>"
    • Leave this blank (just press enter).
  • "client_secret>"
    • Leave this blank (just press enter).
  • Scope that rclone should use when requesting access from drive.
    Enter a string value. Press Enter for the default ("").
    Choose a number from below, or type in your own value
    • Select "2" for read-only access.
  • "Edit advanced config?"
    • Type "n" for no
  • "Use auto config?"
    • Answer "y" for yes
  • A web browser window should pop up allowing you to log into Google. It is a good idea at this point to verify that the URL is actually Google before entering any credentials. You may also copy and paste the link from Terminal into a web browser.
    • Enter your Google credentials

Downloading from Google Drive to OSC

Copy the contents of a source directory from a configured OneDrive remote, GDrive:/src/dir/path, into a destination directory in your OSC session, /dest/dir/path, using the code below:

rclone copy GDrive:/src/dir/path /dest/dir/path --progress

Identical files on the source and destination directories are not transferred. Only the contents of the provided source directory are copied, not the directory name and contents.

copy does not delete files from the destination. To delete files from the destination directory in order to match the source directory, use the sync command instead.

If only one file is being transferred, use the copyto command instead.

Note: The --no-traverse option can be used to increase efficiency by stopping rclone from listing the destination. It should be used when copying a small number of files and/or have a large number of files on the destination, but not when a large number of files are being copied.
Note: Shared folders will not appear when listing a directory they are filed in. They are still accessible and data can be move to/from them. For example, the commands rclone ls GDrive:/path/to/shared_folder and rclone copy GDrive:/path/to/shared_folder /dest/dir/path will work normally even though the shared folder does not appear when listing their source directory.


If rclone remains unused for 90 days, the refresh token will expire, leading to issues with authorization. This can be easily resolved by executing the rclone config reconnect remote: command, which generates a fresh token and refresh token.


It's important to note Google Drive is case insensitive which prohibits the coexistence files such as "Hello.doc" and "hello.doc". Certain characters are prohibited from being in Google Drive filenames and are commonly encountered on non-Windows platforms. Rclone addresses this by converting these filenames to their visually equivalent Unicode alternatives.