Q. Is it true that Google Drive is being discontinued?
A. Google announced this month that it will end support for the Google Drive desktop apps for Windows and Mac computers on Dec. 11 and that the software will be shut down for good on March 12. But while those handy desktop programs for managing your files in the cloud are destined for retirement, Google’s online backup service is not going anywhere soon. You just get to it through different desktop programs. (You can also continue to just upload and download stored files through your Google Account in a web browser.)
For desktop users who backed up files to cloud servers with the Google Drive app, the company has two newer programs to do the job instead. The Backup and Sync app for Windows and Mac, introduced in July, is Google’s software for users of its free services. The program can be set to synchronize copies of locally stored photos and other files on the computer to Google’s cloud servers. (Note that you get a free 15 gigabytes of storage from Google, but if you max it out, you need to buy more space if you want to keep storing all your files on the company’s servers.)
Business customers using the paid G Suite version of Google’s Gmail, calendar and business programs have a choice. They can use Backup and Sync, too, or switch to the new Drive File Stream app for Windows or Mac. Drive File Stream has been available since March for early adopters and officially arrives on Tuesday.
Google recommends that its business customers use the Drive File Stream for a few reasons, including faster data-sync times. Additionally, the app stores the files online for direct use and puts less corporate data on the users’ hard drives; specific files and folders can be marked for local storage and use offline when an internet connection is not available.
Users running both Backup and Sync and Drive File Stream on the same computer will get a nudge from Google to switch to the latter app to save disk space. Those still using the Google Drive app will begin to see alerts next month announcing that the software is headed to the digital dustbin.