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Google Drive: Here's what all the changes mean

Google Drive is kaput! Wait -- no, it isn't. Here's what you need to know about Google's cloud plans.

Google Drive will stop working March 18, 2018. Its replacement, Backup and Sync, is available now.
The Google Drive app will stop working March 18, 2018. Its replacement, Backup and Sync, is available now.
Stephen Shankland/CNET

For fans of Google Drive, the headlines last week seemed alarming: "Google Drive shutting down in March!" "Google Drive is dead!"

Um, no.

Although Google does plan to make a change early next year, the Drive service itself isn't going anywhere. Rather, it's the Google Drive app that's being terminated, and that's only because it's being replaced. Here's what you need to know about the future of Drive.

If you don't sync, don't worry

Just to be totally clear, only the Google Drive apps for Windows and Mac are approaching end-of-life. Which is totally fine, because Google released Backup and Sync back in July.

But before we delve further into that, it's worth noting that many users don't even bother with Google's desktop apps. Rather, they access Drive in a browser (and/or on phones and tablets), in which case there's no additional sync software required. If you fall into that camp, this news isn't news at all; nothing to see here, move along.

What is Backup and Sync?

Google's free utility replaces both the Drive and Photos desktop apps for Windows PCs and Macs. You can use Backup and Sync to back up the contents of your entire computer, or just selected folders.

It's a pretty easy tool to use, especially if you were already syncing with its Drive app predecessor. If you're new to it, however, check out "Get started with Google's Backup and Sync app."

What is Drive File Stream?

The funniest part about last week's Google Drive fake news: Google announced the date of Drive's demise in a blog post for IT administrators who offer Google's G Suite productivity tools to employees. So this wasn't even intended for everyday consumers.

To further head off any confusion, let's talk about Drive File Stream, a tool mentioned in that post. According to Google, it's "a new desktop application that allows you to quickly access all of your Google Drive files on demand, directly from your computer, meaning you use almost none of your hard drive space and spend less time waiting for files to sync."

But, again, that's something your workplace may roll out; it's not something you need to worry about on your personal laptop.

Now playing: Watch this: How to get started with Google's Backup and Sync app

What else is happening with Google Drive?

Support for Google Drive for Windows/Mac will end on Dec. 11, 2017. And the apps will flat-out stop working (on both platforms) on March 12, 2018. So you've still got plenty of time to make your way to Backup and Sync -- assuming you need to, you know, backup and/or sync.

And that's about it. There hasn't been a lot of Google Drive news lately -- except the good news that the service is definitely not going away.