The Google Drive desktop client is dead. Long live Google Drive File Stream! Actually, also long live Google Backup & Sync! Google has just announced the general availability of its new Drive File Stream desktop application for all G Suite users. But even if you aren’t such a customer, you might also need to pay heed, because with Drive File Stream’s availability comes the deprecation and, soon, shut down of the old Google Drive client for PCs and Macs.
Google has long been itching to retire the old Drive desktop software for one reason or another. Instead of simply just upgrading it ad infinitum, it is axing it completely and replacing it with a fresh new app. Two actually. Yep, Google is replacing one old Drive with two new Drives, so to speak.
Backup and Sync was actually released first and is the only option available to consumers, at least those that don’t use G Suite. It replaces not just Google Drive but also the old Google Photos desktop syncing app. Drive File Stream, on the other hand, is available only for G Suite customers and is more suited for teams and organizations. While such customers are free to use both Drive File Stream and Backup and Sync, they will have duplicate files stored on their computers and Google will advise them to turn off Backup & Sync.
There are other ways these two replacements differ other than having access to Team Drives, which Backup and Sync doesn’t. As its name says, Drive File Stream allows G Suite users to only stream files as needed, instead of downloading the whole file or folder all at once. In face, File Stream can also sync individual files only while Backup and Sync can only sync entire folders. That said, Backup and Sync does have one trump card. It can selectively sync other folders on the computer outside of Drive’s own My Drive. Anything you want sync with Drive File Stream, however, has to be placed inside My Drive.
Here are the important dates you have to keep in mind. Starting December 11 this year, the old Google Drive desktop client for PC and Mac will no longer be supported. Then come March 12, 2018, they will stop working altogether. So have until March next year to get your Drive affairs in order and transition to Backup and Sync or Drive File Stream as your case may be.