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I don't really have a lot of information to go on here (for reproducing, etc.) so I'm hoping this post reaches someone who's encountered this issue before.

What happened was that one file became 50-some files: (there are a lot more, but this gives you the general gist)

many files the same

It seems that this might have been due to a UI glitch. I wasn't the person who uploaded the files, so perhaps my friend kind of accidentally had it selected and then Ctrl + dragged or something. But I think she was using her phone, where such a feature probably doesn't exist. It's clear that the duplication has happened multiple times, and it seems that those times line up with when she accessed the Drive app.

Any leads? We can delete the items, but we don't know if they mightn't just come back. (This has happened with a different file already, and that one got copied over 100 times.)

  • One interesting thing: I have tried renaming one of the files that is getting duplicated, and more copies have appeared—with the old name. Not sure quite what that implies. We're going to try uninstalling & reinstalling the iPhone GDrive app that was used for uploading. – MalcolmOcean Feb 15 '18 at 23:42
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First thing I would like you to check whether you have granted access to your Google account (specifically Drive) to an app, either on web or on mobile.

To check the apps connected to your account - https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/3466521?hl=en

Now, go through the list, you may be better off with removing any unknown / un-trusted apps from the list and that you do not remember adding, those with access to your Drive account, those are the ones which might be causing this issue.

I haven't encountered this issue, ever, neither do I know anybody who have, if this was a common known issue and that it was actively happening to many users right now we would've gotten more reports about it.

However I would also suggest you to take a look at this thread, https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/drive/pSwZ9-Muzn8;context-place=topicsearchin/drive/duplicate%7Csort:date

The answer on the thread explains why Backup and Sync tool may be duplicating the files over and over again, due to a setting that tells the tool to upload files from an external drive on your system.

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