The Google Drive app on PC and Mac has been one of the primary conduits
for accessing documents and files in Google’s cloud since the service debuted in 2012. Google has now announced the impending shutdown of the app, which some have interpreted as a massive loss of functionality. What’s actually happening is that Google is moving users to a pair of new desktop apps, which it began testing a few months ago.
If you’re still using the old Google Drive app on your computer, it’s about to start bugging you with notifications. Support for the app will be cut off on December 11th of this year, and the app will stop syncing your files completely on March 12th, 2018. You can keep using the Google Drive app up until the very last moment if that’s what you want to do, but it’s probably best that you start looking at your options now.
For most people, the new Google Backup and Sync client is what you’ll want to install. This piece of software includes the features of Google Drive, along with functionality from the discontinued Google Photos Uploader. You can use this client to get access to your cloud files on the computer, selectively sync folders, and so on.
Those with a G Suite account have a different solution to replace the Google Drive app, which Google has just taken out of beta. The Drive File Stream app still provides access to cloud storage on your computer, but it takes into account that many businesses have large shared drives that are inconvenient to sync locally. Thus, it “streams” the files you need, and that’s why it’s called Drive File Stream.
File Stream downloads files as you need them, so you don’t waste a ton of disk space on data you aren’t actively using. You can still open the files in native applications like Word and Photoshop, though. The client can also anticipate which files you might need in the future, and cache those offline to save time. However, you can manually sync Drive folders to your device as well.
Google is making File Stream a default feature on G Suite in a few weeks unless administrators disable it and choose to go with Backup and Sync. However, all accounts will need to migrate soon. The same goes regular users, but you can install Backup and Sync right now on your own. Google’s help pages will point you in the right direction.