There are 2 ways to access Drive files and keep them in sync on all your devices.

Drive File Stream is best for most organizations. This application lets you stream My Drive and Team 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. (The earlier sync client, Drive for Mac/PC, is no longer supported. It will begin to shut down for some domains starting on May 12, 2018. The shutdown process will roll out gradually.) With Backup and Sync, all your Drive content is stored locally.

Compare sync solutions

FeatureDrive File StreamBackup and Sync
Access files in My Drive
Access files in Team 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
Sync other folders, such as Documents or Desktop

If you transition from Backup and Sync to Drive File Stream, here are primary differences you’ll notice in the user interface:

Drive File Stream Drive File StreamBackup and Sync Backup and Sync
Access Google Drive like any other local or network drive.

Mac: Google Drive appears in Finder under Devices.
Windows 7: Google Drive appears in Explorer as a mounted drive under My Computer and Favorites.
Windows 10: Google Drive appears in Explorer as a mounted drive under This PC and Quick Access.

Access Google Drive like a folder on your hard drive.*

Mac: Google Drive appears in Finder under Favorites.
Windows: Google Drive appears in Explorer under Quick Access.

When you access Google Drive on your computer, you see both My Drive and Team Drives.When you access Google Drive on your computer, you see My Drive. You can find Team 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.

*Also applies for the previous version, Google Drive for Mac/PC.

Check system requirements

Before you choose a sync solution, verify that it works for your organization. You can use Drive File Stream on these operating systems:

  • Windows: Windows 7 and up. Windows Server and Windows 7 32bit editions are not supported.
  • Mac: El Capitan (10.11) and up. For High Sierra (10.13), follow these steps.

If you can’t use Drive File Stream at this time, check the Backup and Sync requirements. The browser requirements for Backup and Sync also apply to Drive File Stream.

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