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Grow Your Business Technology

Your Guide on How to Back Up Your Computer to Google's Cloud

image for FlamingoImages / Getty Images
FlamingoImages / Getty Images
  • Google Drive enables backup and cloud collaboration for many different file types on PCs and Macs.
  • Drive File Stream is the backup solution for G Suite users, with various controls and the ability to sync Microsoft Office files for a work or school account.
  • Backup and Sync is the backup solution for consumers, with the ability to back up photos and documents on your computer's desktop.

There's a simple method for businesses to back up data on Google Drive. With Drive File Stream, Google's dedicated backup tool for enterprise users, you can easily save different types of files stored on your business's computers to Google's cloud. Drive File Stream targets G Suite users, while Backup and Sync has tools that are more in line with consumer use.

Available on Mac and PC, Backup and Sync replaces the Google Drive for Mac/PC application with a feature set that offers more detailed control over files and folders. Backup and Sync is designed to be an easier and faster way to upload documents, photos, and all types of files to Google Drive and Google Photos.

"It's a simpler, speedier and more reliable way to protect the files and photos that mean the most to you," Google announced in a statement.

The company also claims Backup and Sync will keep your files safe and organized on Google's servers, no longer "trapped" in your computer and other devices.

Google Drive is a solid cloud storage solution for those who want to back up to the cloud and use applications like Google Docs for real-time collaboration. The Backup and Sync tool offers granular controls for your specific backup preferences, while Drive Enterprise has more advanced tools and features for business users.

To make use of Drive File Stream, you or your designated G Suite administrator must enable it for your organization. You should also specify that your organization's users can allow Drive File Stream on their devices and whether users can see the download links.

A key benefit of Drive File Stream is that administrators can enable "real-time presence" in Microsoft Office files. With this feature, users can see if someone else is editing a shared Office file. This can prevent conflicts with the file version.

Drive File Stream works with the hard drive storage so that your files remain up to date with what you've backed up to the cloud. It also makes it easy to back up and restore files to your machine if you're starting over on a new PC or need to wipe the hard drive.

To use Backup and Sync, you simply install the Backup and Sync client on your computer, then select which folders in your computer you'd like to back up. You can also choose to back up and sync files from SD cards and USB drives, including cameras and mobile devices. After the initial setup, files in selected folders and data sources will automatically upload to Google's servers and sync anytime you make changes.

Backup and Sync also creates a folder on your computer named Google Drive. Any files you put into this folder automatically upload to and sync with your My Drive folder on Google Drive and are accessible on all Drive-enabled devices or over the web.

You can change the location of the Drive folder on your device and automatically back up the contents of an SD card or other USB storage device plugged into your PC or Mac. Any of the files that you upload are available in Google Drive on the web or other devices where you access Drive.

Since Backup and Sync uploads and syncs files to your Google Drive account, it would be wise to keep an eye on your storage space. Google gives all users 15GB of Drive storage for free. Depending on the types of files you back up, you could easily surpass 15GB, especially if you're backing up photos, videos or your entire computer.

To check the storage in your Google Account, you can launch Drive and view the Backups tab on the left of the screen. To check if you have enough storage available, go to Google.com/settings/storage. You can also purchase additional storage from there by joining Google One.

Plans start at $1.99 per month for 100GB of data. You can also pay $9.99 per month for 1TB of storage space. These plans can also be paid for annually at $19.99 per year for the 100GB plan or $29.99 for the 1TB option. Google One also doles out additional offers, such as hotel benefits, for members.

You can also check and purchase storage directly from the Backup and Sync client. Open the Preferences tab, click on Settings, and select Upgrade Storage. As is often the case with transferring files to the cloud, a strong internet connection is recommended. For more information on Backup and Sync, visit the Google Drive Help Center or G Suite blog.

Google changed how Google Drive and Photos work together in order to allow more granular control over the data between the two services. New photos and videos from Drive no longer automatically show in Photos, nor will new ones in Photos be automatically added to a Photos folder in Drive. However, existing items are not removed.

The Backup and Sync tool still allows you to upload images and videos via High Quality or Original Quality. The former qualifies for free storage, while the latter counts against your Drive quota. If you want more control with the Photos.Google.com interface, you can use a tool called Upload From Drive to manually choose photos and videos from Drive.

Using iCloud backup is usually the main method for backing up the content of an iPhone, as it directly integrates with iOS. However, there's an option to keep your data in Google Drive if you want.

To back up iPhone data with Google Drive, you'll need to use several different apps. You can back up photos by downloading the Google Photos app from the App Store. When you sign in to your Google account, photos will back up to the service. They will then be available on other devices with the Google Photos mobile app or the web app on desktop.

As for your contacts, there is no dedicated Google Contacts app for iOS. However, you can sync contacts through the iPhone settings app. Tap Accounts & Passwords > Add Account > Google, enter your login credentials, and open your contacts app to start syncing. You can find detailed instructions and troubleshooting on the Contacts Help page.

Google recommends that G Suite users opt for Drive File Stream and recommends Backup and Sync for consumers. You should keep an eye on the evolving feature sets to ensure you are taking full advantage of the services.

A more detailed breakdown between the two is available in this help article. A key difference is that you can upload photos and videos through Backup and Sync, but not with Drive File Stream. On the other hand, Drive File Stream integrates with Office files and enables access to shared drives through your organization.

Drive File Stream and Backup and Sync both offer many advantages for individuals and organizations that want to use cloud services more strategically.

Sara Angeles contributed to this article.