Sync and Backup Photos from your Android Phone

I’m a big fan of Android smart phones, but backing up photos or files has always been something that has worried me. Different manufacturers have different backup apps. A Samsung phone uses Samsung Kies, a HTC phone uses HTC Backup. Google offers cloud backup of app data if the app supports it. Google Photos will backup your photos, but they’re compressed even more unless you pay for the service (which is perfectly fair). It’s a mixed bag.

So, I’m going to tell you how I backup my phone photos, and you can do this with (probably) any Android phone. I use FolderSync to move photos off my phone and on to my laptop for safe keeping and permanent storage. I don’t like leaving photos on my phone. The phone fills up and I can’t take any more photos!

FolderSync comes in two flavours, a free lite version, and a paid version. The paid version has a few more features and doesn’t display adverts but you’ll be able to do most things with the free version too. I originally paid for the app so I could use filters but I don’t use them any more.

I love having all my photos available on Google Photos, so after a day of taking photos I’ll keep an eye on that app and wait for everything to be uploaded there. When it’s done, I tap on a “Sync All” icon on my phone and then my photos are copied over to my laptop using the local wifi network and deleted off my phone.
The photos end up in a directory on my laptop called “00-mobile-import” where I’ll point Lightroom at to import the photos. I have a Lightroom import profile for those photos and they get moved to dated folders and tagged appropriately. Lightroom doesn’t support GIFs but every now and again I’ll check that folder and move them to their own area for safe keeping.

Configuring FolderSync can be daunting, but you’ll go through these steps:

  1. Set up an account. This is how you access your laptop or computer. Usually you’ll use a Windows share (SMB/CIFS) but I’ve discovered that Macs use a newer version of that protocol that Android doesn’t understand so I use SFTP (Secure FTP) instead. You’ll want to share a folder or enable SFTP on your computer first of course. You can even backup to Dropbox or other cloud service.
  2. Next up is a folderpair. This is how you connect a folder on your phone with a folder on your computer. You can schedule backups, force the use of a certain wifi network, and change many other options here.
  3. Create a “Sync All” shortcut on your phone launcher.

The FolderSync Help Page is slightly out of date but has lots of screenshots and information about configuring it.

Apart from moving my photos to my laptop, I also use FolderSync to sync a folder of wallpapers from my laptop. I also use it to overcome a bug in Google Photos. I move RAW DNG files out of the default DCIM/Camera folder (to a different folder on my phone) as Google Photos now backs them up but doesn’t realise that the Jpeg files of the same names are the same photo. FolderSync has a feature to watch a folder but it doesn’t work on that particular folder so I manually tap another sync icon before I get home so only the Jpeg files are backed up by Google Photos. My “Sync All” shortcut also moves the DNG files to my laptop, where I delete the duplicate Jpeg files with a script but that’s for another blog post..

Howtogeek has an article on configuring it, and many years ago Android Police gushed about FolderSync, describing it as follows:

Alright, control freaks (otherwise known as “my people”), this one’s for you. FolderSync is a fantastic little app we’ve just discovered that lets users sync folders between local storage and a number of online storage services. The app supports one- or two-way sync and provides a host of settings to tweak the app to all your sync needs.

If you have an Android phone, if you take photos, if you want to back them up, get FolderSync.

The Galaxy S7 finally gets Nougat

Nougat, or Android 7.0 has finally been released by Samsung for the Galaxy S7/ and S7 Edge and my phone is downloading it.

Now that it’s here I was wondering if I should install it as I’m quite fond of “Good Lock”, a replacement for the notification system in Samsung phones that doesn’t yet work in Nougat, but this comparison video (of the first beta) below convinced me to try it.

The notification panel looks ok, but has been updated since that video was made. The brightness slider can be moved to the top of the notification panel so it shows on the first pull-down now. That brightness warning dialog only showed the first time I set it to that bright. It’s definitely an improvement on the panel in stock Marshmallow on the S7. I like the multitasking, and the camera has got a nice UI update, even though I rarely use anything but the “pro” mode to shoot raw files. I hope Android Pay still works. I guess that’s one good thing about credit cards – you don’t have to worry about an OS update breaking it!

I wonder if I can enable the blue light filter only at night. That would be more useful than the screen turning yellow during the day. Nightmode Enabler doesn’t work.

Finally, here’s a video showing the final Nougat update..

When is Android Pay coming to Ireland?

I’ll admit I haven’t been too excited about the whole “paying for things with my phone” hype. I think I may have used a contactless terminal in Mc Donalds once. But there was a system update for my Galaxy S7 Edge yesterday and early this morning I noticed a new application, Android Pay. Despite the early hour I quickly went through the setup process but adding the credit card from my Google account brought me to this screen:

Android Pay

Various searches on Google haven’t thrown up anything useful or hopeful. It’s anyone’s guess when Android Pay will go live here. Anyone know?

The Google Now mini games are fun

Next time you launch Google Now tap on the Google Doodle and you’ll see the screen above. 

They’re fun games you can play on your phone, all with a sporting, Olympic theme with cute fruity graphics!

Split screen on your phone

thread on Reddit asked what you use the new split screen functionality in Android Nougat for. Apparently people use it to browse Reddit and watch YouTube at the same time. 

Samsung Android phones have had this functionality for a while but I rarely use it however I decided to try this, and it works fairly well!

‘course I don’t know how you can concentrate on something else and watch a video at the same time..

Hey! It even works with the WordPress app! 

I guess it would be useful for picking out quotes from articles, and it would save lots of tapping on the multitasking button to change apps when copying text.

Have you used the split screen feature of your phone if it has it?

The Samsung Galaxy S5 Marshamallow Update

So, I’m back in the Samsung TouchWiz fold. I was a fairly happy user of Cyanogenmod for a few months which allowed me to use the latest version of Android on my Galaxy S5. It worked almost the way I wanted it to. There were a few issues related to the notification light, the capacitive button lights and bluetooth. I discussed the lights issues in my previous post but only briefly touched on bluetooth.

This doesn’t happen to everyone, but on my phone, if I was using a bluetooth speaker the audio would break up from time to time. This would happen if the phone was moved, the screen turned on, or if I interacted with it in other ways. It was really annoying as you can imagine.

In the last few weeks Samsung have started rolling out the official Marshmallow update for the S5. Last Friday the update for Sri Lanka appeared online. This is important for me because it’s the same model used in Europe and many other countries, SM-G900F!

It wasn’t long before discussion on XDA started, and a ROM I used before, DevBase, was updated with a 6.0.1 release. I like this rom because it has the core Samsung software but has stripped out other bits to save space.

About Phone

Installing a new rom or firmware takes a while but basically comes down to these steps:

  1. Backup everything, just in case. I used Titanium backup for individual apps and a nandroid backup of the whole phone.
  2. Copy the new firmware onto the phone.
  3. Reboot into recovery mode (volume up+menu+power) and do a factory reset. That doesn’t delete everything on your phone which I always found weird, but useful because it doesn’t delete the firmware..
  4. Flash the new firmware from recovery and tell the recovery to reboot into download mode.
  5. Boot up a Windows machine and Odin, connect my phone, and flash the bootloader and modem.
  6. Reboot phone and restore apps.

Flashing a new firmware is never without stress. You can soft brick your phone meaning the device won’t boot properly. That happened to me, but after flashing the bootloader and modem again it worked fine. It also takes an age to get things back the way they were before. That’s the kicker. It’s back the way it was before, for the most part so from a cursory glance it looks much the same as it ever did.

So, what’s better now? Bluetooth is perfect now, charging notification lights behave correctly, as do lights on the capacitive buttons. Battery life is the same as before, excellent for an almost 2 year old device. I replaced the stock Samsung lockscreen, notification system and task switcher with Good Lock, which I find is a lot better and faster. You can find it on the US Galaxy App store, or here if you don’t have access to that.

There was definitely more free space on my internal storage when I was running Cyanogenmod. I haven’t tried moving any apps to the SD card yet but there’s about 2GB of space free now which isn’t bad since Google Photos chews up almost 1GB of space. I also flashed URWSoft Barebone Cleaner to free up more system space, but the rom I used was already fairly light already so it didn’t make much of a difference.

I did have trouble with Quickpic and Syncthing deleting photos from my external SD card, but I’m using a very old version of Quickpic, and I think Syncthing had the same problem with Cyanogenmod. I’ve put them on the internal storage for now. I never leave photos on my phone for long anyway.

Homescreen
Of course I’m not using Samsung’s default launcher. It’s Nova Launcher all the way!