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Google made a big change to one of its most important apps

Published Jul 13th, 2021 9:28AM EDT
Google Drive for Desktop
Image: Google

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Google has plenty of useful apps and services, and most of them are available for free to anyone with a Gmail address. Some of them are pretty easy to use, and you get the hang of them in no time. Others are more complicated, but Google wants to make things simpler. One example is the myriad of chat apps that Google tried before settling on Messages and Chat. Then there are the various video chat apps available on mobile and desktop. Is it Google Meet, Hangouts, or Duo? It’s all of them.

The same goes for Google Drive, one of the Google apps you might be using the most. The app is incredibly important, but it has different versions for different users. Now, Google plans to fix everything via a huge update to the Drive desktop app that every user should know about.

Google Drive offers users direct access to the Google cloud storage space allotted to their Google account. Drive can be used to backup, sync, and access files on different devices. Google has mobile apps for Android and iPhone. It also has Drive clients for Windows and Mac.

But rather than keeping things as simple as possible, Drive comes in two desktop versions. One is the poorly named “Backup and Sync” app that’s available to consumer users. The other is called “Drive File Stream,” and it targets business users.

Google Drive for desktop
New Google Drive for desktop user interface. Image source: Google

The new Google Drive for desktop app

Google is now unifying the two experiences, and the new app is called Google Drive for desktop. Google explained in a blog post that it’s “bringing people the best and most used features from both Backup and Sync and Drive File Stream.”

Here are the main features of the new Google Drive app:

  • Upload and sync photos and videos to Google Photos and/or Google Drive
  • Sync external storage devices to the cloud, including flash drives and external hard drives
  • Mirror Drive files on your desktop, which stores your files on your local device and enables quicker access to your content

The upgrade is mandatory

The new Google Drive for desktop app is a mandatory upgrade. You’ll have to install the new app over the summer. You’ll also need to transition from Backup and Sync by early October. That’s when the current app will stop working.

The user interface changes seem beneficial, as seen in these screenshots. You’ll get instant access to your cloud content right inside the app.

Google Drive for desktop
New Google Drive for desktop user interface. Image source: Google

Google will soon start notifying Backup & Sync users about the upgrade to Drive for Desktop. Drive File Stream users should be good to go right away. This Google Workspace blog post answers most questions about Backup and Sync. It also includes a timeline for the transition. Furthermore, Google set up a help page that addresses the upcoming changes.

Finally, you can already download and install the new Google Drive apps. Windows users need this file. And here’s the app for Macs.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.