Drive Sync FAQ for admins

Here are common questions for admins who manage Google Drive for an organization, about streaming or syncing Drive files to users' devices.


How does Google Drive sync files?

This depends on whether you use Drive File Stream or Backup and Sync. To compare these options, see Choose a sync solution.

Are synced files removed from my computer and stored online exclusively?

If you use Drive File Stream, your Drive files are moved to the cloud, freeing up disk space and eliminating the network bandwidth needed to keep all your files synced from your computer to the cloud. You can stream Drive files on demand, or make them available for offline access.

If you use Backup and Sync, your local files will remain in your Drive folder on your computer, and a synced copy is also stored online. You can also configure Backup and Sync to delete local files and keep them safe in the cloud.

Will syncing files use much internet bandwidth?

With Drive File Stream, files are stored in the cloud and don’t need to sync with online versions, saving network bandwidth. Files that are cached for offline access will sync back to the cloud when you’re online.

Backup and Sync doesn't throttle bandwidth by default, but you can choose to limit your bandwidth settings. You can also pause syncing at any time if Drive is consuming too much of your Internet connection.

See Back up & sync files with Google Drive to learn how to limit bandwidth.

Can I control which sync application is used in my organization?

Yes. As the administrator, you can turn on or off Drive File Stream, Backup and Sync, both, or neither. See Turn on sync for your organization to learn more.

Can I use Drive File Stream and Backup and Sync at the same time?

Yes, if both applications are allowed in your organization. Learn what happens if you allow both applications.

Which file systems are supported by Backup and Sync?

Backup and Sync supports APFS, HFS+, and FAT (on OS X), and ReFS, NTFS, and FAT (on Windows). There is currently no support for network volumes (e.g. SMB or NFS).

Why can't I upload Google Docs and Sheets files directly to shared drives or sync with other backup clients?

When using Drive File Stream and Backup and Sync, you'll find .gdoc and .gsheet files listed on your local machine. These can't be backed up by other clients, such as Dropbox or OneDrive, because they are shortcut files pointing to specific files hosted in Google's cloud. These shortcut files are not available for uploading or copying with other sync tools.

Furthermore, if you try to drag a .gdoc or .gsheet file from your desktop into a shared drive in your browser, you will see the error message "File unreadable". Instead, to add a file to a shared drive, use a web browser and follow these instructions.


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