Whatever digital data you have on whatever device, Google has a new way for automatically backing up those files in the cloud: Backup and Sync. Announced last month, the new backup service, available to anyone with a Google account, combines the capabilities of two previous Google apps: the Mac or PC app for the cloud-based data storage service Google Drive and the desktop uploader Google Photos.

The new Backup and Sync, which Google said yesterday was now live for most users, is an app for both Mac and PC that also backs up data on any device regularly connected to a desktop, including phones, digital cameras, and SD cards. Users can specify which folders on their desktops to automatically and continuously back up, while USB devices and SD cards can be backed up and synced when they're connected to desktops.

'Simpler, Speedier, More Reliable'

Backup and Sync is a "simpler, speedier and more reliable way to protect the files and photos that mean the most to you," Google Drive product manager Aakash Sahney and Google Photos product manager David Loxton wrote yesterday on the Google blog. "Just choose the folders you want to back up, and we'll take care of the rest."

Using Backup and Sync requires that users first install the app on their Macs or Windows PCs. They can then specify their options by choosing which folders to sync to Google Drive. Users can also sync data from Google Drive so cloud-stored files are available on their desktops for offline use.

The backup app also lets users control how their delete files, allowing them to choose whether to remove instances of file wherever they're stored, or to delete something just on their desktop computers while leaving those things untouched on Google Drive. Users can also specify the quality settings for backed up photos and images to control how much storage space they occupy in Drive.

15 GB Free, More Storage for a Fee

While Backup and Sync in theory allows users to have cloud-based backup for everything on their Macs or PCs, Google Drive storage does come with limits. Regular Google users can store up to 15 GB of data on their various services -- Google Drive, Gmail, Google Photos, etc. -- for free.

Google users can upgrade their Drive capacity by paying for more cloud-based storage. Currently, Google charges $1.99 per month for 100 GB of data storage, $9.99 per month for 1 TB and $99.99 per month for 10 TB.

Meanwhile, organizations that currently pay for more extensive Google G Suite services will have a different option for backing up and accessing files and data via the cloud: Drive File Stream. Currently available to enterprise, business, and education customers via an early adopter program, Drive File Stream is expected to launch later this year.

Drive File Stream will let users stream files to their desktops directly from the cloud without having to use standard syncing tools. This will allow them to access Drive-stored company data on their computers even if those devices don't have enough local storage to download that information directly.