Backup and Sync vs File Stream: Which Software Is Better for Managing Google Drive Files

Backup and Sync vs File Stream: Which Software Is Better for Managing Google Drive Files

Google Drive is arguably the most popular cloud storage service out there. The service is provided by default on all Android devices, and Google offers a generous 15GB of storage, to start with. Like Dropbox and OneDrive, Google Drive offers a desktop tool called Backup & Sync to access and use Google Drive files on Mac and Windows. The company also offers another File Stream tool for Google Workplace users.

Recently, Google has also made Drive File Stream available to general consumers. We now have two options to sync Google Drive folders with Windows and Mac – Backup & Sync and Drive File Stream. They both serve different audiences with several features exclusive to each software.

If you’re confused between the two, you’ve come to the right place. This article will compare backup and sync with Drive File Stream and conclude which software is best for you. Let’s start.

What is Google Backup and Sync

Backup and Sync is the mainstream successor to the Google Photos desktop downloader and Drive sync app and is for your account. Safely back up and sync files and photos in Google Drive.

It provides the same functionality as Drive for Mac / PC and backs up all the folders on your computer.

What is Drive File Stream

Originally designed for organizations, the Drive File Stream gives you quick access to all your Google Drive files on demand, right from your computer. This means that you will use virtually no part of your hard drive space and spend less time waiting for files to sync. Drive File Stream lets you stream files, much like you stream movies on demand.

You can also choose to keep certain files or folders offline for editing when you are not connected to the Internet. The next time you sign in, Google Drive will sync these changes and save your work to the web.

Configuration and features

The setup process is straightforward. Download the backup and sync software using the link below and configure it from scratch. After a successful connection, Backup & Sync will ask you to choose which folders on your computer to continuously back up to Google Drive.

For example, you can choose Desktop, Documents, or Pictures folders, and it will sync and display on your Google Drive home page. You can also enable the Google Photos upload option to securely back up all photos and videos to the Google Photos platform.

Configure backup and synchronization

The third step is to configure the Google Drive folders to sync with the computer. Here you need to understand the difference between the two software. With Backup and sync, you can select the entire Google Drive to sync with the PC or Mac. This means that the device will download all the files available on your Google Drive to the local storage. Of course, you can select custom folders and leave other users’ confidential files.

Back up and synchronize certain folders

The problem with the current method is that if you run out of storage on the device and accidentally select the entire Google Drive to sync with a laptop, it will take up most of the storage and slow things down for you. And that’s where the Drive File Stream saves the day. Let me explain how.

When setting up Drive File Stream, the software will only ask for the default drive letter. Yes that’s it. You don’t need to select a Google Drive folder to display on the device. Instead, the software will mirror your entire Google Drive folder to the device. But wait, wait! These folders will not occupy a single MB on the disk.

Configuring Drive File Stream

All folders remain in the cloud and you will notice a little cloud icon next to each folder and file. These folders act as files on demand similar to OneDrive and Dropbox. This means that you can right click on any file or folder and download it to the device. After processing the relevant media and files, you can right click the file or folder again and make it online only.

Online files only

Other differences

Drive File Stream doesn’t have Google Photos integration which means you can really use it for photos. On the other hand, Backup & Sync allows you to sync photos and videos with Google’s Photos service.

Also, you can see who can see who is editing with real time presence in Microsoft Office with Drive File Stream while backup and sync does not have such features.

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Use Google Drive on PC or Mac

When it comes to comparison, Drive File Stream and Backup and Sync target different user segments. The GT team has some fans of the Drive File Stream solution because it doesn’t take up much space. If Google Photos integration is essential for you and you want to sync Desktop / Documents / Pictures folders, download Backup & Sync. It’s unclear whether Google will merge the two to create a robust Google Drive add-on for PC and Mac users.


Want to choose Drive File Stream over Backup & Sync? Read the article below to learn how to set it up from scratch.

Last updated Feb 5, 2021

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