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How to Add Google Drive to Windows File Explorer

by Ravi Teja KNTS
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Windows syncs with One Drive by default and you can access the One Drive files right from the File Explorer. There are even a few other apps like Creative Cloud that will sync with the File Explorer right after installing Adobe Creative Cloud apps. However, if you are a heavy Google Drive user like myself and want to view all your Drive files right from the File Explorer, setting it up is as easy as installing an application from Google. Let’s add Google Drive to Windows File Explorer.

Add Google Drive To Windows File Explorer

Unlike the Google Drive app which only worked online, Backup & Sync will create a Google Drive folder right inside the file explorer and let you access the files offline. You can delete or drop files into that folder and the changes take effect in Drive instantaneously. Begin by downloading Backup and Sync from Google on your computer. Run the app and click on ‘Get started’.

Getting Started with Backup and Sync

The next step is to connect your Google account to the app. Sign in with your Google Account proceed to the next step.

Signing in to the Google's Backup and Sync app

On this page, the app will create a copy of the files on your computer in Google Drive. This will allow you to access all the locally stored files from around the world. Select the folders that you want to backup to Drive automatically. In my case, I chose Desktop, Documents, and Pictures.

Selecting folders on Windows to backup to drive

If you wish to backup your photos to Google Photos, toggle this checkbox marked in red below and click “Next”.

Backing up photos and videos to Google Photos on Widows Now, it’s time to create a folder that will store a copy of your Drive files. Check the box next to “Sync My Drive to this computer” and set the location of that folder. The app will sync all the cloud files to this folder. Click the Start button to finalize the setup.

Syncing My Drive files to your System

You can either choose to sync everything or a few selected folders to the local folder on your computer. The files and folder that you choose on this page will show up locally and you can even access them when you’re offline. Yes, you’d be able to change the folder afterward as well.

Selecting the folders of Google Drive to sync with file explorer

Click on Start and click on Continue on the Pop-up.

starting the sync process

Now, you can see the Google Drive folder in the location that you set during configuration. It may take time to get all your drive files depending on your data and the internet connection.

Google Drive on the File Explorer

The folders that you chose to back up to Drive will give you the visual representation with a green tick mark.

Backed up folders and files in File Explorer

You can also check the backup status from the taskbar as well. This will give you a log of all the files that have been backed up or downloaded.

Checking the backup status

If you delete a file from the Google Drive folder in the File Explorer, it won’t be deleted from the Drive. This feature is disabled by default so that you don’t accidentally delete all the files from your Drive. However, if you want to enable this feature, click the Backup and Sync icon from the System Tray > Click the three-dot menu > Preferences> My Laptop> Always remove both copies.

Fair warning, you will lose all your data if you accidentally delete the local folder.

Changing the preferences to delete on both


If you want to back up files that are just shared with you and not actually on your Google Drive, simply open Google Drive in a web browser> Shared with me> Right-click on the Shared file or folder and click on Add to My Drive.

Adding shared files to my drive

It will start syncing to your computer and you would be able to access that file from the File Explorer.

Shared file on File Manager

For Gsuite Users

If you have a Gsuite account, Drive File Stream app would make more sense for you. Gsuite account is nothing but a work or school account. For example, adam@techwiser.com is probably a G Suite account, whereas adam@gmail.com is a regular account.

Start by downloading and installing Drive File Stream app on your computer and follow the on-screen instructions.

Installing Drive File Stream

Just like we did before, Log in with your Google account and proceed to the next step.

Logging into Drive File Stream

Unlike Backup and Sync, there are no more settings to change and instead of creating a Folder, it creates a separate Drive that gives you a dedicated space to access the files.

Google Drive on File Explorer

Unlike Backup and Sync, you cannot back up local files to Drive by simply dragging and dropping the files to the shared drive.

Wrapping up

After all these extra features, ‘Backup and Sync’ and ‘Drive File Stream’ apps are obviously better than the Google Drive app which we can use in the browser anyways. And they also help to copy and paste files between folders in Drive which is not that easy task on the website.

And you cannot use both the apps at the same time for the same account. Regular users cannot use the Drive File Stream app and for G Suite users, it’s better to go with Drive File Stream as you can also view the files shared to you right from the File Explorer.

Best Google Drive Add-ons to manage efficiently

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