Google killed desktop Drive and replaced it with two apps. Now it’s killing those, and Drive for desktop is returning

Sync'n'store users have forced migration to conduct within 80 days – enjoy yourselves, Workspaces admins!


Users of Google’s desktop cloud storage app Backup and Sync have 80 days to switch to a new client – Drive for desktop – to sync data into the G-Cloud.

The ad giant on Monday announced the realization of a plan to replace its two desktop sync clients – Backup and Sync, and Drive File Stream – with a single new client named Drive for desktop.

Readers may find the imminent debut of this software a little odd, given that in September 2017 Google deprecated a desktop client that was then called Google Drive, and created Backup and Sync and Drive File Stream as replacement applications.

When Google launched the two apps, it suggested they would make life easier for enterprise users. File Stream was supposed to be aimed at biz users, and Backup and Sync for the rest of us.

Google has admitted it got that wrong. People continued using both apps anyway, so Google Drive for desktop is back to replace the pair of them.

“Some of our Google Workspace customers have deployed both sync solutions, which can be confusing for end users and challenging for IT departments to manage,” states its February announcement. “To address this, we’re planning to unify these sync clients later in 2021, bringing the most-used features from both Drive File Stream and Backup and Sync to all of our users.”

Google’s notification that its plans have come to fruition sets a tight timetable. Starting on July 19, the two apps “will support a guided flow to help users transition onto Drive for desktop.”

Come August 18, users still on Backup and Sync will start to receive in-product notifications prompting them to transition to Drive for desktop. And on October 1, users of Backup and Sync won’t be able to backup or sync. Data will not be deleted. October 1 is 80 days downstream from Google’s announcement of the change.

If you're wondering about the fate of Drive File Stream: it will become what will be known as Drive for desktop.

Beta versions of Drive for desktop have been around for quite some time, so plenty of admins have had time to start figuring out who runs it and how to get them moving to the new application. Admins have also been spared the need to upgrade Drive File Stream. As Google’s advice states:

There’s no significant impact to users like you. In the latest release, you will just see the tool renamed to ‘Drive for desktop’. You’ll also get new features from Backup and Sync as part of a release later this year.

But Google hasn’t really said when those features will land, or what features will appear. This would be nice to know, given that data is quite sensitive stuff and not all of it belongs in a cloud.

Google is infamous for killing products swiftly and without mercy. Resurrecting them because the initial culling didn’t work well is a new one though. Innovative. ®

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