Google will start prompting users to switch to Drive for Desktop from July 19th; Backup and Sync will stop working on October 1st

Jul 13, 2021

Earlier this year, Google announced its plans to unify its Drive desktop programs for Windows and macOS. For those unaware, the search giant offers two applications for Drive, Backup and Sync and Drive for Desktop (formerly called Drive File Stream) to synchronize the files on the cloud storage server with the user's computer.

Drive for Desktop Windows File Explorer

The former is primarily used by individuals aka home users, while the latter was designed for business and Enterprise customers. Google is merging these applications into one solution, well technically, Backup and Sync is being discontinued. This isn't something new, Google is quite infamous for killing its popular services and apps. I miss Google Talk and Inbox, but I digress.

Drive for Desktop Windows interface

The announcement on the Google Blog states that starting next week, 19th of July, to be precise, Backup and Sync will start offering a guided flow, which will help users switch to Drive for desktop. A month later, from the 18th of August, Backup and Sync will start displaying a notification asking users to switch to the new sync client. Google is advising users not to uninstall Backup and Sync before the transition is complete.

Google Backup and Sync isn't going away immediately, you can still download and use it until the 1st of October. The program will stop working on said date, and you will be forced to use Drive for desktop to access your files if you want to continue using a software. The change affects all users, i.e., individuals, G Suite Basic and Business users, and Google Workspace users.

Drive for Desktop menu

What's the difference between Backup and Sync and Drive for desktop?

The old program is an offline sync client, meaning it synchronizes the data between your computer and the server, by downloading the content to your local storage.

Drive for Desktop preferences

Drive for desktop is a cloud-first sync client, i.e., the data is not downloaded to your computer, at least not by default. That said, you can mark files and folders for offline access from the File Explorer context-menu.

Drive for Desktop offline access

To access your files on the server, you need to open Explorer and click the Drive's network folder which appears as a virtual drive, and browse the contents. Copy the files to a different folder, and it gets downloaded to your system.

Drive for Desktop settings

Is this a bad thing?

Google has a roadmap which highlights some upcoming features. According to this comparison chart, Drive for desktop offers a few additional features that aren't supported in Backup and Sync, and the old Drive File Stream. This includes syncing specific files to the cloud, Microsoft Outlook integration and Microsoft Office (real-time collaboration). You may choose specific local folders, external drives to sync with the cloud.

Users with a plan that includes shared drives can access them with Drive for desktop. The new program will also support streaming files on demand, instead of downloading them first before playing them.

Drive for Desktop vs Backup and Sync

The upcoming application will have a Dark Mode. Drive for desktop is compatible with Google Photos unlike its predecessor, so you can use it to sync your photos and videos directly with the service. The only downside in the new version, seems to be the lack of an option to exclude files by their extension.

Download Drive for desktop

Drive for Desktop download

The odd thing is that Drive for desktop cannot be downloaded from Google Drive's main page. Click the Learn More option on the page to visit a support article, scroll down the page to find the install section.

Drive for Desktop download for Windows and Mac

It has the offline installer download links for Drive for desktop for Windows and macOS.

Drive for Desktop download offline installer for Windows and Mac

It's worth mentioning that these links are for the current version of the application that lacks many features from the chart mentioned above. I expect Google will make the new Drive for desktop program on the service's page from next week.

Google will start prompting users to switch to Drive for Desktop from July 19th
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Google will start prompting users to switch to Drive for Desktop from July 19th
Google will start prompting users to switch to Drive for Desktop from July 19th. Backup and Sync will stop working on October 1st.
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  1. ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    Doesn’t Windows 8 know that www. or http:// are passe ?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on August 4, 2012 at 7:57 pm

      Well it is a bit difficulty to distinguish between domains and files for instance.

    2. Leonidas Burton said on September 4, 2023 at 4:51 am

      I know a service made by google that is similar to Google bookmarks.

  2. VioletMoon said on August 16, 2023 at 5:26 pm

    @Ashwin–Thankful you delighted my comment; who knows how many “gamers” would have disagreed!

  3. Karl said on August 17, 2023 at 10:36 pm


    The comments section under this very article (3 comments) is identical to the comments section found under the following article:

    Not sure what the issue is, but have seen this issue under some other articles recently but did not report it back then.

  4. Anonymous said on August 25, 2023 at 11:44 am

    Omg a badge!!!
    Some tangible reward lmao.

    It sucks that redditors are going to love the fuck out of it too.

  5. Scroogled said on August 25, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    With the cloud, there is no such thing as unlimited storage or privacy. Stop relying on these tech scums. Purchase your own hardware and develop your own solutions.

    1. lollmaoeven said on August 27, 2023 at 6:24 am

      This is a certified reddit cringe moment. Hilarious how the article’s author tries to dress it up like it’s anything more than a png for doing the reddit corporation’s moderation work for free (or for bribes from companies and political groups)

  6. El Duderino said on August 25, 2023 at 11:14 pm

    Almost al unlmited services have a real limit.

    And this comment is written on the dropbox article from August 25, 2023.

  7. John G. said on August 26, 2023 at 1:29 am

    First comment > @ilev said on August 4, 2012 at 7:53 pm

    For the God’s sake, fix the comments soon please! :[

  8. Kalmly said on August 26, 2023 at 4:42 pm

    Yes. Please. Fix the comments.

  9. Kim Schmidt said on September 3, 2023 at 3:42 pm

    With Google Chrome, it’s only been 1,500 for some time now.

    Anyone who wants to force me in such a way into buying something that I can get elsewhere for free will certainly never see a single dime from my side. I don’t even know how stupid their marketing department is to impose these limits on users instead of offering a valuable product to the paying faction. But they don’t. Even if you pay, you get something that is also available for free elsewhere.

    The algorithm has also become less and less savvy in terms of e.g. English/German translations. It used to be that the bot could sort of sense what you were trying to say and put it into different colloquialisms, which was even fun because it was like, “I know what you’re trying to say here, how about…” Now it’s in parts too stupid to translate the simplest sentences correctly, and the suggestions it makes are at times as moronic as those made by Google Translations.

    If this is a deep-learning AI that learns from users’ translations and the phrases they choose most often – which, by the way, is a valuable, moneys worthwhile contribution of every free user to this project: They invest their time and texts, thereby providing the necessary data for the AI to do the thing as nicely as they brag about it in the first place – alas, the more unprofessional users discovered the translator, the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, the greater the aggregate of linguistically illiterate users has become, and the worse the language of this deep-learning bot has become, as it now learns the drivel of every Tom, Dick and Harry out there, which is why I now get their Mickey Mouse language as suggestions: the inane language of people who can barely spell the alphabet, it seems.

    And as a thank you for our time and effort in helping them and their AI learn, they’ve lowered the limit from what was once 5,000 to now 1,500…? A big “fuck off” from here for that! Not a brass farthing from me for this attitude and behaviour, not in a hundred years.

  10. Anonymous said on September 28, 2023 at 8:19 am

    When will you put an end to the mess in the comments?

  11. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 9:36 am

    Ghacks comments have been broken for too long. What article did you see this comment on? Reply below. If we get to 20 different articles we should all stop using the site in protest.

    I posted this on [] so please reply if you see it on a different article.

    1. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 11:01 am

      Comment redirected me to [] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  12. RIP said on September 28, 2023 at 10:48 am

    Comment redirected me to [] which seems to be the ‘real’ article it is attached to

  13. Mystique said on September 28, 2023 at 12:13 pm

    Article Title: Reddit enforces user activity tracking on site to push advertising revenue
    Article URL:

    No surprises here. This is just the beginning really. I cannot see a valid reason as to why anyone would continue to use the platform anymore when there are enough alternatives fill that void.

  14. justputthispostanywhere said on September 29, 2023 at 3:59 am

    I’m not sure if there is a point in commenting given that comments seem to appear under random posts now, but I’ll try… this comment is for

    My temporary “solution”, if you can call it that, is to use a VPN (Mullvad in my case) to sign up for and access Reddit via a European connection. I’m doing that with pretty much everything now, at least until the rest of the world catches up with GDPR. I don’t think GDPR is a magical privacy solution but it’s at least a first step.

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