Google Drive brings Microsoft’s OneDrive Placeholders back to Windows

As an Office 365 subscriber I have 10.23 Terabytes of storage available on my OneDrive, and currently have more than 73 GB of photos, music and documents stored there.

On my Windows 10 PC however, which only has a 256 GB SSD, I am only syncing my Document folder, meaning if I want to retrieve or browse my photos or music collection I have to use the much slower UWP apps.

Microsoft used to have a solution called Placeholders which let users store small stubs of content, like the thumbnails for pictures or the meta-data for music, on their PCs, and then streamed the content on demand, but this feature fell away with Windows 10.

After promising for some time to bring back an equivalent solution, it seems Google may be the first to deliver.

In an update to their Google Drive product they have introduced Smart Files which are simply Placeholders by another name.

Google writes:

Say goodbye to time-consuming file syncing and any concerns about disk space. With Drive File Stream, all your files are always ready for you and your colleagues.

After you migrate to the cloud, you should be able to easily access all your content using your existing tools and processes. While other cloud-based solutions use traditional, time- consuming (and hard drive-consuming) syncs, Drive File Stream, now available in the Early Adopter Program (EAP) allows teams to quickly stream files directly from the cloud to their computer. This means that all of your company data can be accessed directly from your laptop, even if you don’t have much space left on your hard drive.

Drive File Stream lets you:

  • Access, search and manage files on-demand from your computer in seconds.
  • Get just the files you need and make certain files available for offline use later.
  • Access your work even quicker, as your most-used files become available in the background intelligently.
  • Avoid the risk of users downloading all of your company data to their hard drives.

The feature is currently part of Google Drive’s Early Adopters Program and only available on Windows and Mac OS, but unlike Microsoft I have some confidence they will actually deliver the feature to the general public.

Read more about Google’s Cloud Storage solution here.

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