Google has recently discontinued their standard Google Drive desktop app and replaced it with two new applications Backup and Sync, and Drive File Stream.
This article helps clarify the differences between the two. Also, 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.
Backup and Sync
Backup and Sync is the consumer-oriented successor to the original Google Drive app. It provides the same functionality as its predecessor, but with an extremely helpful additional feature: It will backup any folder on your computer that you designate.
Simply sign into the application and select folders from your computer that you want to back up, such as Desktop, Documents, Photos, etc. You can include folders on attached devices like external hard 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 back up with Backup and Sync has its 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
Drive File Stream is an entirely new Enterprise-oriented application. It makes your entire Google Drive available on your computer while using none of your 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.
Which should I use?
This depends on if you want consistent local access the entire contents of your Google Drive (Drive File Stream), or simply want to cherry-pick some folders to back up to the cloud (Backup and Sync). It is possible to have them both on the same computer, but you will want to turn off Backup and Sync's Drive syncing feature if you do so.
Box remains the official secure file storage solution for Emerson College. However, for non-confidential data, Google Drive with Drive File Stream is an excellent way to save, access, and easily share your work with collaborators.