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Google to kill its Drive file locker in two confusing ways

Businesses to get 'File Stream', great unwashed get 'Backup and Sync'

Google is killing its “Drive” sync 'n' share file locker in two ways.

For users of Google's G Suite customers, death will come in the form of a new desktop application called “Drive File Stream” that does pretty much everything Drive does now, but which Google says “allows you to quickly access all of your Google Drive files on demand, directly from your computer, meaning you use almost none of your hard drive space and spend less time waiting for files to sync.”

File Stream has been available since last Saturday, meaning “Google Drive for Mac/PC is officially deprecated.” The old app is still around but support ends on December 11th, 2017. Google says it will shut down completely on March 12th, 2018.

File Stream lets users define which files they need stored locally – which may sound painful until you consider that some users may use shared Drives, or seldom enjoy fast connections, or use laptops with limited storage. In any of those scenarios, automatically sucking down an entire Drive can be unwelcome, so this change should go down well.

Any data you have in Drive is absolutely not going away just because the app of the same name will soon be deceased. But come March 12, 2018, users will need to get their paws on either the new File Stream client or Google Backup and Sync if they want to see their data.

Why two apps? This is where things get confusing: G Suite users are being herded towards File Stream but could also choose to use Google's “Backup and Sync” app instead.

That second app will replace the consumer version of Drive. Backup and Sync is an already-available app that does what it says on the can – but adds photos to the mix. Again, data's not going anywhere. But by tying photos to a file locker, Google probably hopes it is making its consumer services rather stickier. Which it needs given Facebook keeps punters' pics in perpetuity, but Google+ is a punchline of social networking history.

Google warns that G Suite users “may start seeing messages in the product notifying them that Drive for Mac/PC is going away” as of an unspecified day in October. G Suite admins are therefore going to need to be ready to explain themselves.

Just what consumers make of this tangle is anyone's guess. ®

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