By Nicky / Last Updated May 9, 2020

Google Backup and Sync vs Google Drive File Stream

In 2017, Google retired the original Drive app for Windows and Mac computers and replaced it with brand new apps for Mac and Windows PC - Backup and Sync for personal use and Google Drive File Stream for businesses.

Part 1. Google Backup and Sync

Google Backup and Sync

Backup and Sync is Google Drive’s desktop app for Windows and Mac computers that lets you access Google Drive files on your computer and also creates a backup of your selected local files to Google Drive. It also offers the ability to add photos to Google Photos.

Features and advantages:

Search by keywords and filter by file type, owner, etc.

Store all content securely and access anytime, anywhere.

Great for syncing your own files across multiple computers.

Collaborate with others in Docs, Sheets and Slides, etc. in real-time.

The photos are automatically classified and flowed into Google Photos.

Sync certain folders or all folders that you have on computer to Google Drive or Photos.

Sync certain folders or all folders that you have on Google Drive or Photos to your computer.

How does Google Backup and Sync work?

Backup and Sync is a desktop app for Mac and PC that allows you to sync certain folders (or all of them) that you have on Google Drive or Photos to your computer, as well as to sync certain folders (or all of them) that you have on your computer to Google Drive or Photos.

1. On your computer, download and install Backup and Sync and sign in to the Google Account.

2. The first time users will be directly taken to the Preferences screen where you get two options in the left sidebar — My Computer and Google Drive.

3. Under “My Computer”, you can choose the folders on your computer that you want to sync to Google. Similarly, under “Google Drive”, you can choose the folders on Google Drive that you want to sync to the computer.

Google Backup and Sync

Part 2. Google Drive File Stream

Google Drive File Stream

Google Drive File Stream is a desktop application that lets you access Google Drive directly like any other local or network drive. With Google Drive File Stream, your files are stored on the cloud instead of your computer, and any changes you make are automatically synced with the cloud for quick, easy access anywhere you have an Internet connection.

Features and advantages:

Decreases sync time.

Frees up disk space and network bandwidth.

Choose which files or folders you'd like to make available offline.

Minimizes the amount of company data stored on users’ hard drives.

Open files in common apps like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop.

Quickly see all your Google Drive files in Finder/Explorer (including Team Drives).

Browse and organize Google Drive files directly without downloading all of them to your computer.

How does Drive File Stream work?

Google Drive File Stream creates shortcuts, more specifically cached versions, of your Google Drive files and folders so you can access them through your computer directly instead of downloading the entire synced files to your computer.

1. Before installing File Stream, make sure that Google Drive for PC/Mac and Backup and Sync are uninstalled from your computer. You are not suggested to run File Stream alongside these other applications.

2. Restart your computer. Then, install Google Drive File Stream and sign in to the Google Account

3. Once installed, you can access your Google Drive through the Google Drive File Stream network location in File Explorer.

Google Drive File Stream in Explorer

Difference between Google Backup and Sync and File Stream

There are some huge differences between these two applications.

  • Google File Stream is like an extra Hard Disk that lives in the cloud. Google backup and sync is more like Dropbox – a synced folder.

  • With Google Backup and Sync, all your Drive content is stored locally on your computer. However, with Google Drive File Stream, your files are stored on the cloud instead of your computer.

  • Drive File Stream is only available to Google's commercial G Suite accounts but Backup and Sync is not intended for G Suite customers. If you're leveraging a consumer Google Account, Backup and Sync is your only option. This also means Team Drives are only available with File Stream.

Features comparison:

Features Comparision

Should I use Google Backup and Sync or Drive File Stream?

Should you choose Google Backup and Sync or Drive File Stream? In fact, 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).

Of course, if you have a G Suite account, Drive File Stream is the better solution for syncing files. The application can easily bring nearly unlimited resources to your computer regardless of the size of your hard drive. This is also Google's 'enterprise' solution so improvements are coming fast, including the ability to avoid conflicts in traditional file formats.

Actually, you can use both Drive File Stream and Backup and Sync together on the same computer. But you need to turn off the Google Drive feature in Backup and Sync so your computer doesn't sync those files twice because File Stream is already syncing those files for you.

Conclusion

According to the contents above, you may have the decision in this battle: Google Backup and Sync vs. File Stream. If you can’t make a choice for their own unique advantages and features, you can also use both of them. But don’t forget to turn off the Google Drive feature in Backup and Sync to save your space.