Emerson IT Help Desk

Google Drive File Stream and Backup and Sync

Google has recently discontinued their standard Google Drive desktop app and replaced it with not just one, but two new applications. Confused yet? You just wait!

No, but seriously, it’s not so bad, and this quick article can help to clear up any misunderstandings about the change. And don’t worry: The Google Drive on the web that you know and love is not going anywhere, and it still looks and works just the same.

The two new apps are called Backup and Sync, and Drive File Stream.


Backup and Sync is the consumer oriented successor to the original Google Drive app, and does still provide the same functionality as its predecessor, but with an extremely helpful additional feature: It will backup any folder on your computer that you choose to.

If you have the Google Drive app currently installed, it will soon update to Backup and Sync, if it hasn't already. 

Simply sign in, pick folders that you want to backup, such as Desktop, Documents, and Photos, and you are on your way. This can also include attached devices such as drives, or SD cards. Since Google Drive through Emerson College offers you unlimited storage as a student or employee, this is a great way to make sure you always have an emergency backup of your files for work and school.

Each computer that you backup with Backup and Sync has it’s own named folder in Google Drive on the web, found in the Computers section, which is separate from the My Drive section where all your Google Drive files are normally stored.


Drive File Stream is an entirely new Enterprise oriented application. It makes your entire Google Drive available on your computer while using no disk space.

As long as you are connected to the internet you’ll be able to open and edit your Google Drive files right from your desktop. You are essentially streaming files, like you would stream video on YouTube or Netflix.

You can also choose to keep certain files or folders offline for editing while you are not connected to the internet. The next time you connect, those changes will be synced to Google Drive on the web, and your work will be saved there.

You can use both Backup and Sync and Drive File Stream together on the same computer, but you’ll want to turn off the Google Drive feature, which syncs all your files stored in Google Drive to the Google Drive folder on your computer (that’s a mouthful).

While Box remains the official secure file storage solution for Emerson College, Google Drive with Drive File Stream is an excellent way to save and access your work, and then easily share it with your collaborators.

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