Google File Stream

Google's new File Stream application is not a service or a replacement for Google Drive but rather a replacement for the Google Drive Client, a software that can be downloaded to automatically upload files to your Google Drive. File Stream does not remove or replace the data on your Google Drive, It replaces the Google Drive Sync Client software similar to the way you might uninstall an old version of Microsoft word in favor of a newer version. File Stream will full replace Google's Drive Client Software in October 2018. Those currently using the now deprecated client are urged to switch as soon as possible to avoid disruptions in syncing files. The following is a comparison of the three types of software. 


Comparison of G Suite Sync Solutions

Feature Drive File Stream Backup and Sync Google Drive Client
Access files in My Drive
Access files in Team Drives
Stream files on demand
Sync only selected folders in My Drive
Sync only individual files in My Drive
Use native applications like MS Word and Photoshop
Sync other folders, such as Documents or Desktop
Software Target Demographic Corporate Personal Corporate/Personal
Scheduled for removal / Being discontinued No No Yes


Google File Stream app is very similar to the Google Drive App in that it allows you to sync files with your Google Drive. The key difference with File Stream is that rather then selecting folders to sync or sync locations on your computer, File Stream will appear as a separate drive much like the way you have an H drive or when you use a Flash drive. File Stream does not store your files on your computer by default which offers an advantage in that additional space is not taken up when saving / accessing files to your Google Drive.  When working online, your files will be updated and synced immediately as you make changes. When offline, any folders or files you have specified to save offline from Google Drive will still be accessible (see file offline availability below). Added benefits of File Stream over the original Google Drive App are the accessibility of Team Drives. Team Drives allow content to be protected and stored without associating the data to a single user.  Rather than losing access to shared documents once a user's account is no longer active, Team Drive allows this content to stay safely within group ownership.

File Stream allows documents to be saved and synced across multiple platforms and locations within Google drive. Unlike backup and sync, individual files can be specified to be synced from Google drive but file from your computer must be within your File Stream Drive in order to be able to sync them up to Google drive. For many, this will not cause an issue as any data requiring syncing can be dragged into the File Stream Mounted Drive. Note that File Stream also offers a more space efficient solution as it does not necessarily save the data directly to your computer unless you specify it should do so. File Stream allows you to edit files on Google Drive with no delay in syncing. 

*File Stream Notes

When using Google File Stream, users cannot currently duplicate Google Docs, Sheets or Slides.

If you have edit access for a Team Drive (or any files shared within a Team Drive), you can currently only view these files in Drive File Stream. To edit the files, you must access them via Drive on the web. 

Note to use offline editing of Google based documents you will need to set Google Chrome as the default browser, otherwise you will not be able to edit Google Documents even if they are saved to your drive for offline access.

Microsoft Compatibility  


  • Please make note that files saved through the Google File Stream service that are Microsoft Office documents may appear as folders rather than files when viewing them from the online Google Drive interface. From testing, this seems to be an issue specific to Mac and Microsoft Office. This issue seems to occur when saving in newer Microsoft document formats such as *.DOCX . Two ways of resolving this are to install the Microsoft compatibility plugin for the Chrome browser found here, or by saving the document in an older format through the compatibility options in the save menu of the Microsoft Office program you are using. 


  • When uploading Microsoft documents from your computer to your Google drive either through direct upload or File Stream, these documents will become read only files when accessed through the Google Drive online interface (You may still edit these documents from your local File Stream Folder). Rather than being able to edit Microsoft based documents in Google Drive, Google will create an alternative version of the documents that can be edited in the Google Drive equivalent format.  If you would like to be able to edit Microsoft documents directly from the Google Drive online interface, you will need to add the following plugin to your Google Chrome browser. *After installing the plugin ensure that Chrome is completely closed and no windows are open as the plugin requires a full restart of the Chrome browser.  

File Offline Availability

You can specify the availability of files for offline use through the Google File Stream Drive on your computer by right clicking the file or folder within the drive and selecting "Drive File Stream" and "Available offline" in the sub menu. 


Article ID: 40984
Wed 10/18/17 2:13 PM
Wed 12/20/17 2:43 PM

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