Google Backup and Sync is the new tool you’ll need to sync your Google-hosted files and photos with your Mac and Windows PCs. It not only combines the functionality of Google’s discontinued Drive and Photos apps, but also now allows you to specify folders on your hard drive that you’d like to back up to Google Drive without moving them from their original location.

The app is simple to use – once installed, an icon appears in your Taskbar Notification Area or menu bar – click this for an overview, plus access shortcut buttons to your local Google Drive folder as well as online links to your Drive and Photos accounts. The pop-up also lets you track the progress of file syncing.

Click the = button to temporarily pause sync, plus access the app’s preferences. Here you have three tabs: My Computer is where you connect folders from your PC to your Google Drive storage for continuous backup protection, plus configure photo and video uploading (choose between original quality with file limits, or high quality with no limits) as well as switch on Google Photos.

Select Google Drive to switch between syncing everything online with your computer or just your choice of folders. Finally, Settings is where you go to autostart Backup and Sync with your computer, plus access Network Settings (if you find your internet connection becomes sluggish during file sync, click this and set a limit to the upload rate – say 75% of your total upload speed).

There’s nothing particularly special about the app – it’s been redesigned with a modern look and feel, and we like the new feature that allows you to back up user folders without having to move them inside your Google Drive folder. Google provides a reasonable 15GB of storage for free, although this is shared with your Gmail account, and has a number of competitively priced upgrades – the 100GB plan is $1.99 a month or it’s $9.99 a month for 1TB or $99.99 a month.

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The redesigned Backup and Sync app is a definite step up from Google’s old, outdated Drive and Photos apps.