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The FolderSync Help Page is slightly out of date but has lots of screenshots and information about configuring it.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