Different ways to access Google Drive - Web Browser, Backup and Sync, File Stream

1 – Google drive via web browser.  We’re all familiar with this.  It’s all in the cloud, nothing stored locally.  You can open and edit Google docs.  Non-google files for the most part would need to be manually downloaded to open and edit them, for example a Photoshop file and then re-uploaded.

2 – Google Backup and Sync client.  – This replaces the “Google Drive client” which is being discontinued in 2018.   The files are in the cloud AND on the computer.*  It’s a sync.  Recently Google made this much more flexible, you can choose what folders in the cloud to sync down and also what folders on the computer to sync up.  Good as a home backup solution.  Useful if you have large local files (again, say large photoshop files) that you need to work on while offline, but also need to be synced either for backup or accessibility or for sharing.

3 – Google FileStream client.   Files are all in the cloud, nothing stored locally.  Mounts a drive where you can double-click a file (Photoshop) and have it open in Photoshop.  Or an executable file like a driver or a batch file can just be run from there.   It acts just like the F or G drive (or Files1 or Files2 for Macs).  Potential downside, if you have really huge files it would take a while to open them since it’s got to move the data to your machine for access.   Google FileStream will give you access to your Team Drives, while Backup and Sync can not.

FileStream on a PC:

Files allowed in Drive

Drive files exist off campus (in the cloud) – they could be stored in multiple locations around the world.  Keep in mind not all data is appropriate to store in Google Drive (Team or personal) – see handout and read:



*Backup and Sync allows you to choose which folders to sync but it has an odd system where it will automatically sync any files that are “loose” in your Drive.  Loose files are ones that are not in any folder.