The Google Drive desktop app
The Google Drive desktop application (or 'client' from the client-server paradigm) exists for one reason and one reason only. The app allows Google's cloud service, Drive, to work with older file formats like Microsoft Word and Excel that run within your desktop operating system environment.
Word and Excel 'live' on your computer. To make it easier to work with these file types, but still take advantage of Drive and the Cloud, we download Drive to the computer and allow it to 'sync'. This is also how Dropbox, Box, Egnyte, and many other services work as well.
Syncing kind of stinks
Syncing is amazing, but it also kind of stinks. It stinks because we're essentially creating copies and we must provide the extra storage on our hard drive for these copies. These copies should be replicating in near real time but this synchronization is complex. The fact that this technology works as well as it does is really pretty amazing and a testament to how far these services and our computers have come.
Leverage Drive on the Web
What if your organization uses the web-based Google file formats much of the time and older file formats on occasion? Well, you might not have to sync Drive with your computer at all. This could simplify your workflows.
The key Drive feature enabling this possibility is versioning. We can right click on any traditional file in Drive and select Manage versions. We are then presented an option to upload a new version as well as work with previous versions of the file. This way we don't add additional copies of the same file to Drive.