As of 12 May 2018, the desktop version of Google Drive will stop working. Google announced this months ago, but now you’ll actually have to do something about it if you use the cloud storage service.

What’s happening with Google Drive?

The Drive service itself isn’t changing, and certainly isn’t shutting down. Instead, Google is replacing the Google Drive software for Windows and macOS with a new app called Backup & Sync.

In reality, not much is changing aside from the name: Backup & Sync has pretty much the same set of features as the old Google Drive all and works in the same way.

This is the app you’ll want if you’re a home user, regardless of whether you’re using the free Google Drive account or you pay for extra storage over and above the free 15GB.

What do I need to do?

Google says that the old Drive app will stop working on 12 May, so if you want files to continue to sync you’ll need to install the new Backup & Sync app.

You should see a prompt next time you boot up your computer, assuming you haven’t disabled Google Drive from auto-starting with Windows.

In any case, you can download Backup & Sync from Google’s website. Installing it is just as simple as the original Google Drive.

What if I use Google Drive through a business account?

If you use Google Apps for work, you might instead be prompted to download Drive File Steam, which is designed for business users.

It’s a bit different to Backup & Sync because it appears like a hard drive rather than a folder.

Also, you can stream files from Google Drive - hence the name - which means videos and other large files don’t have to take up room on your PC or laptop’s hard drive.

Another extra feature is the ability to view Team Drives, but you can’t sync other folders such as ‘My Documents’ and the Desktop.

Confusingly, even if you do use Google Apps, you can still use Backup & Sync so long as you’re happy to go without Drive File Stream’s extra features.

This table of features shows how the two differ: 

Feature

Drive File Stream

Backup and Sync

Access files in My Drive

Yes

Yes

Access files in Team Drives

Yes

No

Stream files on demand

Yes

No

Sync only certain folders in My Drive

Yes

Yes

Sync only individual files

Yes

No

Use native apps such as MS Word and Photoshop

Yes

Yes

Sync other folders, such as Documents or Desktop

No

Yes