Getting started with Google Drive Backup and Sync

In a recent post I explained how to use the Google Drive for Mac/PC tool to synchronise your Google Drive files to your computer. Since then, Google have released a new version of this tool, now called Backup and Sync. In this post, I’ll show how to get started with Backup and Sync – including how to upgrade if you’re already using Google Drive for Mac/PC.

Before we get into the ‘how’, let me remind you why you might want to synchronise Google Drive files to your computer. This is particularly useful if you store non-Google files in your Google Drive (e.g. Microsoft Office files, PDFs, Photoshop files etc.) By synchronising these files to your computer, you can easily open and work on them in their native applications (with an automatic sync back to the cloud) and access them offline. The added benefit of the new Backup and Sync tool is that you can also choose to continuously backup particular folders on your computer to the cloud.

Store non-Google files in your #Google Drive? Check out this sync tool Click To Tweet


Installing Backup and Sync on Windows

These instructions are for installing Backup and Sync on a Windows device. If you are using a Mac, please refer to this Google help article.

1. Visit and click the Download button in the Backup and Sync section.

Google Drive Backup and Sync

2. Click Agree and download to begin the download.

Google Drive Backup and Sync

3. Once the file has downloaded, click on the name of the download to start the installation (if you are using Google Chrome, you will find the downloaded file in the bottom left corner of the browser).

4. Backup and Sync will finish downloading files and then install. You will be notified once installation is complete. Click OK.

5. Backup and Sync should open automatically. However, if it does not open, you can find it using the search function in Windows 10.
Note: If you are not using Windows 10, find ‘Google Drive’ in the Start Menu

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6. Click Get started to begin setting up Backup and Sync.

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7. Login using the Google account that has the files you want to synchronise.

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8. Click Got it at the backup help screen.

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9. Choose what (if any) folders on your computer you want to continuously backup to Google Drive.

  • The ‘Desktop’, ‘Documents’ and ‘Pictures’ folders will be already ticked, so make sure to untick these if you do not want to back them up.
  • You can choose to backup other folders by clicking the Choose folder link.
  • You cannot backup folders that live on a network drive. However, you can backup folders from a USB device.
  • Before backing up files, make sure you have enough storage quota in your Google account. The size of files being backed up is shown on the right of the folder name.

10. Choose the upload size of your photos and videos (high quality or original quality) and if you want to also upload them to Google Photos.

11. Click Next when you are finished configuring backup settings.

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12. Click Got it at the synchronisation help screen.

13. Choose if you want to synchronise everything in your My Drive, or just selected folders.
Note: You need to ensure that you do not choose to sync more data than the hard drive space you have available on your computer.
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14. Click Start to complete the configuration and begin synchronising your files.

Check out these instructions for using Google’s Backup and Sync tool with your #Google Drive Click To Tweet


Using Backup and Sync

Viewing, editing and uploading synchronised files

After Backup and Sync has installed, you will find a folder called ‘Google Drive’ on your desktop and in Windows Explorer. You can open and edit the files in this folder in their native applications (e.g. Word, Adobe Reader, Photoshop etc.). Any files you add to this folder will be automatically synchronised to Google Drive and shown in the web interface.

Accessing backed up files in the cloud

If you choose to backup folders on your computer to Google Drive, you can find them in the Computers section of the Google Drive web interface.
Note: You may not see the computers section until you backup folders.
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Viewing the backup and sync status

The Backup and Sync icon will be shown in the taskbar near the clock (bottom right corner of the screen). You can left-click once on this icon to view the synchronisation status.
Note: If you don’t see the Google Drive icon, click on the little arrow on the left of the task bar.
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Pausing the sync or changing settings

You can temporarily stop Backup and Sync from backing up or syncing by using the pause function. This is useful if you are using a metered data network (like the hotspot on your phone), or you are on a slow connect and the sync is using too much bandwidth.

To pause the sync, left-click once on the Backup and Sync icon in the taskbar (near the clock.). Click the three dots in the top right corner and choose Pause.

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From this menu you can also access the Preferences. Use this to change settings, including what files you are backing up and synchronising.

Upgrading from Google Drive for Mac/PC to Backup and Sync

If you are already using Google Drive for Mac/Pc, the upgrade process is simple. The best thing is that you will not be required to re-sync files that are already synchronised.

To upgrade, follow the steps above to download, install and configure the tool. Your existing synchronisation preferences will carry over to Backup and Sync. No folders are set to backup by default (unlike in a fresh installation), so choose these in step 9 if desired.


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