Sunday, September 10, 2017

Google Drive is NOT Going Away: Explained

#GoogleDrive is NOT Going Away: Explained | @EdTechnocation #GoogleEDU
Have you seen the headlines recently about Google Drive? Did it freak you out? Make you wonder what's going to happen to all of your files in Drive? Well, there's been some misconceptions and misunderstandings. Let me help clear it up! I explain what's really going on and how Google Apps admins can help. It's not as bad as it's being portrayed!

Have you seen some of the headlines online recently regarding Google Drive?

This headline was originally, "Get ready to update, because Google Drive dies next March". They changed it.

It's actually not related to Google Drive in the way that most teachers and students use it. Some of these articles are referring to "Google Drive" or the "Google Drive app" and that's confusing a lot of people. You may have just read one of the headlines and instantly freaked out, wondering what's going to happen to all your files! Don't fall for these clickbait articles trying to grab your attention. What's happening here is actually not a bad thing at all and can benefit both teachers and students in a great way!

It's always best to go straight to the source!

On September 7, 2017 the G Suite Updates blog posted this article: Drive File Stream launching to all G Suite customers. This relates specifically to G Suite users (i.e. G Suite for Education domains), not consumer users with regular Google accounts. This also relates specifically to an application that can be downloaded and installed on your Windows or Mac computer. This has nothing to do with the Google Drive web app ( or the mobile apps for iOS or Android that we all are used to using. Those will be perfectly fine and untouched!

So what is this application?

Setting up the old Drive for Mac/PC application.
Up until July 2017, there was a Windows/Mac computer application that you could install on your laptop or desktop computer called Drive for Mac/PC. Once installed, it created a new folder on your computer called Google Drive and it would sync all of your files from Google Drive on the web to your computer folder. This made it a lot easier to upload and save files from your computer to your Google Drive, because all you had to do was put the file in your Google Drive folder on the computer and it would automatically sync up to the web.

In July 2017, the Google Drive Team released a brand new computer application called Backup & Sync. When you install this new application on your laptop or desktop computer, it will replace the old Drive for Mac/PC application. The new Backup & Sync application still maintains a Google Drive folder on your computer, but it does so much more! It also allows you to backup the photos on your computer to Google Photos and it can backup other folders like your desktop, documents, and anything else on your computer! You can install this application on multiple computers and then access your files from all of those computers right from Google Drive on the web.

What is Drive File Stream for G Suite Users?

According to the G Suite blog post, Drive File Stream will be a new application that G Suite for Education domain users can install on their laptop or desktop computers. This will not be something available for regular consumer Google accounts.

The Drive File Stream will:

  • allow access to Google Drive files on demand on your computer
  • allow view access to Team Drive files on demand on your computer
  • spend less time waiting for files to sync!
Drive File Stream does not replace Backup & Sync. A G Suite for Education user will be able to use both Backup & Sync and Drive File Stream at the same time on their computer, but there are some things to understand and consider between the two separate applications. Here is an explanation of what users can do when they have both applications installed and running at the same time. But here's the gist:
  • Drive File Stream can be used to access and sync Google Drive files to your computer
  • Backup & Sync can be used to backup & sync your photos and other folders on your computer to Google Drive
  • It is recommended that you turn off Google Drive sync in Backup & Sync (because Drive File Stream will do this for you already and it will save hard drive space on your computer)
  • When you setup Drive File Stream, you will be prompted to turn off Google Dive sync on Backup & Sync (this is the recommendation)
Once Drive File Stream is installed and set up,
it is recommended that you turn off Google Drive sync in the Backup & Sync application.

So why does everyone think Google Drive is going away?

In the G Suite blog post it is mentioned that "With this launch, Google Drive for Mac/PC is officially deprecated. It will no longer be supported starting on December 11th, 2017, and it will shut down completely on March 12th, 2018." So what does this really mean?

  • If you haven't updated the Drive for Mac/PC computer application to the new Backup & Sync computer application you will need to do so by March 12, 2018. (the Drive for Mac/PC application on your computer will no longer work)
  • In October, if you haven't updated yet, you will start to see warning messages about Drive for Mac/PC going away
That's all this fuss really means! See, it's not that big of a deal! And in fact, the new Backup & Sync and Drive File Stream will work better and faster for you!

What can Google Apps Admins do to help teachers & students with this transition?

As of September 7, 2017 the Drive File Stream feature will be TURNED ON by default in the Admin Console. (Apps > G Suite > Drive and Docs > Data Access)

This is the Drive File Stream setting in the Google Apps Admin Console. It is turned on by default.

Even though the feature is already turned on, G Suite for Education users will not be able to install Drive File Stream until September 12 or 26, 2017 (there is a discrepancy in the release date between the blog post and the setting). After this date, users will be able to install Drive File Stream.

On the Deploy Drive File Stream help page there is a section that offers training support and a sample email that you can send to your users to help introduce them to Drive File stream.

You can also share these handy comparison and differences charts with your users. You can find them here.

Comparison chart for Drive File Stream and Backup & Sync.
Primary differences between Drive File Stream and Backup & Sync.

See, nothing to freak out about! In the simplest explanation, Google Drive is getting better for G Suite for Education users by allowing you to back up and sync Drive to your computer and your photos and computer files to Drive. This is a great option to take advantage of because G Suite for Education users have UNLIMITED file storage in Drive!

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