Stream and mirror files with Drive for desktop

Use mirroring and streaming to sync your files in Drive for desktop.

  • As long as they have a reliable Internet connection, most users choose streaming as a way to work with their Google Drive files on their computer. Files are primarily stored in the cloud but will be made available offline when accessed.
  • With mirroring, choose where you want your My Drive files to appear on your local device or back up local files to the cloud. Mirrored files will always be stored on your computer and in the cloud. They are always available offline.

Changes that you make to your streamed or mirrored files on one device are reflected everywhere. In both cases, the Drive for desktop app still allows you to browse all of your files and folders in Google Drive on your desktop. 

Use the table below to decide whether to use streaming or mirroring: 

  Streaming Mirroring
High-level use case Requires an Internet connection. Minimise hard drive usage and safely store content in the cloud. Access your cloud files even when you don't have an Internet connection or the Drive for desktop app running.
Storage Files and folders are stored in the cloud. Local storage is only used when you work on files on your computer or for recently and frequently used files. Files and folders are stored in the cloud and on your local hard drive.
Availability and access
  • Files are only available online unless specifically made available offline through Drive for desktop.
  • You can access files via Finder on macOS or File Explorer on Windows.
  • Files can only be accessed when Drive for desktop is running.
  • Files are available offline and online.
  • Files can be accessed via Finder on macOS or File Explorer on Windows.
Supported drive types Files from shared drives, other computers and backed up USB devices can only be streamed. My Drive can be streamed or mirrored. Local folders or your desktop can only be mirrored. My Drive can be streamed or mirrored.
Application impact Some applications use a combination of APIs that make files difficult to stream. Applications that require extensive writing, video editing or high-resolution photo editing are faster when you mirror files.
 

Important: 

  • You can choose to mirror or stream your My Drive files.
  • Other folders on your device can only be mirrored Learn more.
  • Shared drives can only be streamed. 
  • Recent versions of macOS may stream differently. Learn how macOS impacts file streaming.

Stream or mirror My Drive

  1. Open Drive for desktop.
  2. Click settings Settings and then Preferences.
  3. On the left, click Folders from Drive.
  4. Under 'My Drive syncing options', select Stream files or Mirror files.
When you switch from mirroring to streaming
  • Your file location changes on your computer. 
    • When streaming, files are located on a virtual drive on your computer.
    • When mirroring, files are located in a folder on your computer. 
  • The folder with your mirrored My Drive files no longer syncs.

To switch from mirroring to streaming:

  1. Open Drive for desktop.
  2. Ensure that your local files have finished syncing to the cloud.
  3. Click settings Settings and then Preferences.
  4. On the left, click 'Folders from Drive'.
  5. Under 'My Drive syncing options', select Stream files.
  6. Close Drive for desktop.
  7. Delete the mirrored folder.

Important:

  • To avoid data loss, make sure that your files are fully synced before you delete or move folders.
  • On Windows, you must quit Drive for desktop before you remove the folder with your previously mirrored My Drive files from your computer.
When you switch from streaming to mirroring
 
  • When you switch, My Drive files download to the folder that you select. 
  • If there are already files in the selected folder, Drive for desktop tries not to copy the files already in the cloud. 
    • If the content in a file differs from what's in the cloud, Drive for desktop keeps both.
  • Files that aren't already present in the cloud will be uploaded.
  • The Google Drive streaming location updates to show a shortcut to your new My Drive folder. 
  • Shared drives, other computers and backed up USB devices still appear and are still streamable.

To switch from streaming to mirroring:

  1. Open Drive for desktop.
  2. Click settings Settings and then Preferences.
  3. On the left, click 'Folders from Drive'.
  4. Under 'My Drive syncing options', select Mirror files.
  5. Close Drive for desktop.
Search
Clear search
Close search
Google apps
Main menu