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New Google Drive Apps: What do I need to know?

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For the last week, every time I’ve looked at my news feed I have been greeted with article titles such as “Google Drive is being replaced” or “Google Drive dies next March”. The writers certainly got my attention with these statements, and from what I’ve seen plenty of other peoples attention too. However, there is no need for alarm, your Google Drive data is still perfectly safe. In fact, Google has been working to improve the way you access and use your files, and I think they will be very welcomed changes.

Let’s clarify what’s happening with Google Drive

The “Google Drive” that these articles are referring to is the local Google Drive “app” for Windows and macOS. This is the app that allows you to synchronise your Google Drive contents to your PC or Mac so that they appear in a ‘Google Drive’ folder on your machine, enabling you to have local and offline access to these files.

Google Drive App

Google Drive Windows App

If this looks and sounds familiar to you, then this news from Google means you have some decisions to make in the near future. If this doesn’t look or sound familiar to you, then you may be about to learn about a couple of tools that may help you squeeze even more benefit out of Google Drive.

What’s new with Google Drive?

Google has been working on two new tools to help you with both using and looking after your files. The first of these is Google Backup & Sync, which was released in July. Backup & Sync was designed to replace both the Google Drive app and the Google Photos app, and is targeted more towards the personal Google users as opposed to enterprise users. The second is Google File Stream, which is targeted more towards enterprise users, and will be released officially on the 26th September. With this release, the Google Drive app will officially start a process of being phased out, with support ending in December, and the app being officially blocked from further use in March next year.

So the decision you have to make is which of the two new apps will work best for you or your company?

As I mentioned earlier, Google Backup & Sync has been designed to be a replacement for the Google Drive and Google Photos apps. Once installed, this new app allows you to sync a copy of Google Drive files to your computer for use locally, or even offline. This means that if you are more comfortable in Microsoft Word than Google Docs, or you spend your time in a completely different app like Photoshop for example, you can still use these programs to create and edit your files. Because the app syncs your files automatically, you get the safety and availability that comes with online storage, without the hassle of uploading and downloading your files every time you need them. If this sounds like the old Google Drive app, you’re exactly right.

Google Backup & Sync

New to Backup & Sync, you can now also select other folders on your computer to be synchronised to Google Drive as well, such as your Documents or Desktop Folders. This could be invaluable for those of us, like me, that are guilty of returning to old habits and saving files to the desktop and then not having the files you need when away from your computer. Keep in mind though that just like the Google Drive app this application is storing copies of your data on your computer which takes up space. If you have a large amount of files in Google Drive, you may have to be selective of which ones you sync.

Google File Stream

Google File Stream, amongst other things, solves the issue of having to store a local copy of your Google Drive data on your machine to be able to use your local applications. It does this by, as the name suggests, streaming your files. As soon as you install Google File Stream, all of your files become visible in a Google Drive folder. Because it is not going to use local hard disk space, there is no option to choose what you want to sync; you have access to all your Google Drive files. When you load a file, Google File Stream will quickly download the file in the background and it will open just as a regular local file would. When you are done editing it, File Stream then sends the file back into online storage. This is particularly useful for enterprise situations where you might have far more files shared in Google Drive than you could ever store on your computer. For people using Team Drives, there is support for that now too, but read-only at this point in time.

How do I start using the new Google Drive apps?

Google Backup & Sync is available now, and if you are moving from the Google Drive app, all you have to do is install it. It will grab your current settings, uninstall the old app, and install without much or any intervention required. Google File Stream will be available on the 26th of September, and as there is nothing to configure, is also very easy to install.

If you are an enterprise user of G Suite, these tools will need to be enabled for use by your G Suite Administrator.

If you have any queries about these applications and changes, or would like to learn more about G Suite and how it can help your organisation, we’d love to chat.