Moving from Backup and Sync to Google Drive for desktop

Over the coming months Backup and Sync will prompt you to move to the Drive for desktop application. Learn more about how Drive for desktop is different from Backup and Sync

In order to move your account, you’ll be directed to your browser to sign in with the account you’re using in Backup and Sync.

On the sign in screen, you’ll see a prompt that says “Make sure that you downloaded this app from Google”. To make this transition easier, Backup and Sync will have downloaded Drive for desktop for you, so you can click Sign in to continue

Tip: If Backup and Sync doesn't automatically download Drive for desktop, you can download it from here

Sign in to your account

Once you launch Drive for desktop, sign in to your account(s) again. If you’re using an account in both Backup and Sync and Drive for desktop, you’ll need to sign into this account, or disconnect it, in order to sign into other accounts. If you are already using an account in Drive for Desktop or have already started moving an account, you may not need to sign in again.

Important: If you use your account for work or school and your admin doesn’t allow Drive for desktop, you may not be able to move your account.

Disconnecting accounts 

If you don’t want to move an account from Backup and Sync to Drive for desktop you can choose to disconnect it. Any folders you were syncing to Google Drive or backing up to Google Photos will remain on your computer and in the cloud, but changes will no longer sync.

If you choose to reconnect the account after you move to Drive for desktop, you’ll need to set up these folders again, and some content may be uploaded again.

Important: Disconnecting your account will remove it from Backup and Sync only. If the account is already in Drive for desktop, it won’t be removed from that application.

Give access to folders (macOS only)

MacOS requires applications like Drive for desktop to ask for permission to access your Desktop, Documents, and Downloads folders, as well as external drives, network volumes, and photo libraries. To continue syncing to Google Drive or backing up to Google Photos, you’ll need to provide access. 

If you want to provide access after clicking “Deny”, you may need to restart your computer in order for the changes to take effect.

You can manage these permissions in System Preferences Chevron Security & Privacy Chevron Privacy.

Connect removable devices

If you’re syncing folders stored on removable devices (e.g., external drives, network attached storage, etc.), you’ll need to connect these devices in order to move these folders to Drive for desktop.

If a device is not connected while moving your account, the folders stored on these devices will stop syncing, and they won’t be moved to Drive for desktop. USB devices will need to be set up again in Drive for desktop.

Important: Keep your devices connected while moving your accounts.

 

Check folders for files that need to sync

During the setup process, Drive for desktop will check your computer and the cloud for files that need to sync. Syncing is the process of downloading files from the cloud and uploading files from your computer’s hard drive, to make sure the content on your computer matches the content in the cloud.

In Backup and Sync, some settings result in folders not being in sync between your computer and the cloud, such as:

  • Preventing certain file types from being uploaded to Drive or Photos
  • Choosing not to sync deletes to Drive, in order to remove items in one location but not the other
  • Uploading only photos and videos to Drive
  • Uploading photos and videos to Drive in High quality (HQ) or Storage saver quality

To use Drive for desktop, any folders going to Drive must be fully synced.

Storage needed to sync files

Syncing will use additional Google account storage to upload files, and storage on your computer to download files. If you run out of storage, your account(s) will still be moved to Drive for desktop but syncing will be paused until space is available. Learn more about managing your Google account storage

To reduce the amount of Google account storage needed to upload files you can:

  • Move files that need to sync to a folder on your computer that isn’t syncing with Google Drive or backing up to Google Photos
  • Choose to back up a folder containing mostly photos and videos to Google Photos only

To reduce the amount of storage on your computer needed to download files you can:

  • Move files that need to sync to a folder in Drive that isn’t syncing with your computer
  • Switch to streaming My Drive

If you don’t want to upload or download files that need to sync, you can disconnect the folder. Your existing files will remain on your computer and in the cloud.

Choose settings for My Drive

My Drive can be “streamed” or “mirrored”. Both streaming and mirroring enable you to access your Google Drive files directly from your computer.  There are differences in where these files are located, when files can be accessed, how much storage is used, and how files are made available offline.

  Streaming Mirroring
Where files are located Files are located on a virtual drive* on your computer Files are located in a folder on your computer
When files can be accessed You can only access files when the Drive for desktop application is running You can access the files anytime, even when the Drive for desktop application isn’t running
How much storage is used Storage is used for files you open or make available offline Storage is used to store all My Drive files on your computer
Offline availability You can select specific files and folders to be available offline by right-clicking on the item and selecting “Available offline” All your My Drive files are automatically available offline

* A virtual drive is a file system that appears on your computer. A virtual drive is accessible the same way USB sticks or external hard drives are accessible, through a drive letter (e.g. G:\) in Explorer on Windows or under Locations in Finder on macOS. 

The virtual drive will present you with the file structure and the names of files in your Google Drive.

Tip: To save storage on your computer, choose streaming. You’ll only use storage for the files you use, or select to be available offline.

Changes from Backup and Sync

In Backup and Sync, you could save hard drive space by choosing specific folders to sync from My Drive to your computer. With Drive for desktop, you can now stream your My Drive files and only use hard drive space for the files you use.

Choose settings for folders from your computer

With Drive for desktop, you can choose to sync folders with Google Drive, back up to Google Photos, or both. 

Sync a folder to Google Drive

When you sync a folder to Google Drive, everything, including all file types, in the folder will be uploaded. If you add, edit, move, or delete files, those changes will occur on your computer and in Google Drive. This makes sure that your content stays up to date. 

You’ll be able to access your files from any device at drive.google.com or via the Google Drive app.

Changes to syncing with Google Drive

  • Photos and videos can only be uploaded in original quality in Google Drive

Tip: To back up photos and videos in storage saver quality, choose to back up your folder to Google Photos.

  • If you delete a file, the file will be deleted from your computer and in Google Drive. 

Tip: In Backup and Sync, you could choose to not sync deletes between your computer and Google Drive (i.e., “never remove both copies”). You can accomplish this with Drive for desktop by choosing to stream My Drive, and then drag and drop (or copy and paste) files into your virtual drive. This way, the copy in your virtual drive and the copy on your computer are no longer connected, meaning changes won’t be synced between the two. 

Back up a folder to Google Photos

When you back up a folder to Google Photos, only photos and videos will be uploaded. After you upload a file, if you make any changes to it on your computer, it will be uploaded again as a new file to Google Photos.

Changes made to files in Google Photos will not be reflected on your computer. Any files deleted on your computer will not be deleted in Google Photos. Additionally, files deleted in the cloud will not be re-uploaded.

You’ll be able to view your photos and videos from any device at photos.google.com or via the Google Photos app.

Changes to backing up to Google Photos

Tip: If you don’t want to upload screenshots and/or RAW photos to Google Photos, you can change your preferences in Drive for desktop.

  • Folders can be backed up directly to Google Photos

Tip: In Backup and Sync, to back up a folder to Google Photos you also had to back it up to Google Drive. In Drive for desktop, you can back up folders to Google Photos only. 

Sync to Google Drive and back up to Google Photos

If you choose to sync a folder with Google Drive and back it up to Google Photos, all files will be uploaded to Google Drive and photos and videos will also be uploaded to Google Photos. This means that photos and videos will be uploaded to both Google Drive and Google Photos, which will use more Google account storage and network bandwidth.

Photos and videos can be uploaded in Storage saver quality or Original quality to Google Photos, but will always be uploaded in Original quality to Google Drive.

Tip: If a folder primarily contains photos and videos, back up only to Google Photos to save Google account storage.

 

Disconnecting a folder

To disconnect a folder while moving an account to Drive for desktop, deselect Google Drive and Google Photos. If you want to disconnect a folder after moving your account, go to Preferences, click on the folder you want to disconnect, deselect Google Drive and Google Photos, and then click Save.  Files that have already been synced or backed up will remain in the cloud and on your computer, but new changes will not be synced.

Tip: Disconnecting a folder will not reduce the amount of storage used on your computer or in your Google account. To clean up space see managing your storage.

 

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