Google has launched a new, streamlined desktop application for backing up all of your photos and other files to the cloud, replacing the existing desktop clients for Google Photos and Google Drive. It's called Backup and Sync, it works across macOS and Windows, and you can download it for free. Google is hoping it will makes backing up simple enough that everyone will get around to doing it – after all, we're all at risk of spilling coffee over our laptops.

Not only does it combine the two clients for Google Photos and Google Drive, but it lets you back up files and folders from anywhere on your computer. Previously, files had to be saved into a special Google Drive folder (as with Dropbox) to get uploaded and synced.

Files in the folders you've specified are then backed up automatically, and made accessible on the web and on any other computers where you've got Backup and Sync installed. The existing Google Drive and Google Photos mobile apps for Android and iOS aren't affected.

"It's a simpler, speedier and more reliable way to protect the files and photos that mean the most to you," says Google.

The tool might be straightforward enough, but the same can't be said for Google's cloud storage pricing: Users get 15GB of space for free, which is shared across Gmail, Google Photos and Google Drive. If you've got more than 15GB of files, you need to pay for extra space, with prices starting at US$1.99 a month for 100GB.

There are a couple of caveats for Google Photos, which will store an unlimited number of pictures and videos for you, provided you don't mind them being resized – to a maximum of 16 megapixels for photos and 1080p HD for videos. If you want all your photos and videos at their original resolutions, then you do have to pay for cloud storage.

The other option is to buy a Pixel or Pixel XL, because photos and videos uploaded from those devices, at any resolution, don't count towards your storage quota. It's one of the perks of buying Google-branded hardware.

Despite the rather confusing pricing tiers, the new Backup and Sync tool does look like it delivers on its promise of simplifying the process of getting your files into the cloud. With Apple and Microsoft continuing to upgrade their own iCloud and OneDrive cloud services, it's another area where the big tech firms continue to battle for users' data.

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