Backup Your PC and Work With Your Files Using Google Backup and Sync and Google Drive File Stream

Google Drive is a great tool.  It allows us to collaborate, share, and store our files “in the cloud”.  It has completely changed the way I manage my files.  One of the huge benefits of Google Drive is that you can leverage it to store backups of your important files.  Until recently, that was done with the Google Drive Sync application.  The old Google Drive Sync was a powerful tool, but it had some downsides.

  1. It would pull down local copies of everything in your Google Drive.  While having things in two places is a good strategy, I have hundreds of gigabytes of data that I keep in my Drive that I don’t need on a daily basis.  Keeping a copy of this data on local storage was a waste.  You could specify in the client which folders to sync, but as soon as you stopped syncing all folders, folders you created moving forward required you to remember to go into the client and check a box to sync them.
  2. Folders where important files are commonly located on your computer (like your documents, desktop, and pictures) were not synced by default.  You could get around this by moving the target of these folders to a subfolder in your Google Drive, but this process was not intuitive for the average user and always felt like you were tricking Google Drive to sync your stuff.

Fortunately, these problems have been solved using two new(ish) tools from Google.

  1. Backup and Sync – this product is the replacement for the old Google Drive Sync application discussed above.  It separates the “backup” function from the “sync” function.  What most end users really need is the “backup” function.  Most of us can skip the “sync” function because of….
  2. Google Drive File Stream – this product will map a network drive (just like a file share on a server) that represents to your Google Drive.  This allows you easy access to all your files in Drive, without creating a local copy.  The files are navigated and opened  through your file system (just like your other local files).  For example, let’s say you have a native Photoshop file stored in Google Drive.  You can locate that file through the mapped drive that represents your Google Drive, then open it directly in Photoshop.  The file is streamed for use on your computer.  You make your changes, save the file, and those changes are saved directly to the file in your Drive.  No downloading, no uploading, no syncing.  The interaction with Google Drive is almost completely transparent to the user.  You can even access files stored in your Team Drives this way!

With these two applications, you can easily backup the important files on your computer and access all your important files “in the cloud”.  In the video above, I’ll show you how I set these programs using a PC, but there are also Mac clients available.  I’ve provided links to the installers from the video below.

Note: It is important to note that Google Drive File Stream only works with “G Suite” accounts (Like Google Apps for Education or Google Apps for Work).  Google Drive File Stream does not work with individual Google accounts at the time of this article.


If you have any questions about these products, please leave me a comment below.

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