There are 2 ways to access Drive files and keep them in sync on all your devices.
Google Drive for desktop (formerly Drive File Stream) is best for most organizations. This application lets you stream My Drive and shared drive files directly from the cloud, which in turn:
- Frees up disk space and network bandwidth
- Decreases sync time
- Minimizes the amount of company data stored on users’ hard drives
You can also make Drive files available for offline access. These cached files sync back to the cloud when you're online, so the latest version is available on all your devices.
- Backup and Sync is our consumer sync client, but organizations can use it, too. Backup and Sync stores all or selected Drive content locally.
Compare sync solutions
|Feature||Drive for desktop||Backup and Sync|
|Access files in My Drive||✔||✔|
|Access files in shared drives||✔||✘|
|Stream files on demand||✔||✘|
|Sync only selected folders in My Drive*||✔||✔|
|Sync only individual files in My Drive*||✔||✘|
|Use native applications like MS Word and Photoshop||✔||✔|
|See who's editing with real-time presence in Microsoft Office||✔||✘|
|Integrates with Microsoft Outlook||✔||✘|
|Sync other folders, such as Documents or Desktop||✘||✔|
|Upload photos and videos to Google Photos||✘||✔|
*With Drive for desktop, you can make selected files or folders 'Available offline' to sync them to your computer rather than an online stream.
If you transition from Backup and Sync to Drive for desktop, here are primary differences you’ll notice in the user interface:
|Drive for desktop||Backup and Sync|
Access Google Drive like any other local or network drive.
Mac: Google Drive appears in Finder under Devices.
Access Google Drive like a folder on your hard drive.
Mac: Google Drive appears in Finder under Favorites.
|When you access Google Drive on your computer, you see both My Drive and Shared drives.||When you access Google Drive on your computer, you see My Drive. You can find Shared drives only in Drive on the web.|
|To sync content from Documents, Desktop, or other folders, you must explicitly move it to My Drive.||You can select other folders on your computer to automatically back up and sync besides My Drive (such as Documents or Desktop). These folders appear in the Computers section in Drive on the web.|
Check system requirements
Before you choose a sync solution, verify that it works for your organization. You can use Drive for desktop on these operating systems:
- Windows: Windows 7 and up. Windows Server 2012 and up.
- Mac: El Capitan (10.11) and up. For Intel devices running High Sierra (10.13) or newer, follow these steps.
If you can’t use Drive for desktop at this time, check the Backup and Sync requirements. The browser requirements for Backup and Sync also apply to Drive for desktop.
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