With camera lens and sensor specs getting more and more impressive, Android devices have easily become our go-to choice for point-and-shoot cameras. Photos on our phones keep getting better and better but the issue is with transferring and backing up those precious memories seamlessly.
The best place to automatically store photos is in the cloud so we can access them anytime and anywhere. Many apps and services offer this option but with only very little free space — 2GBs is ridiculous given the higher resolution sensors on cameraphones — and expensive additional space. Google+ will backup photos with no storage limit, except it counteracts that by downsizing the image resolution. Wouldn’t it be perfect if we could back those photos up to our Google Drive account, making good use of the free space offered with the reasonably priced additional storage? Well, there’s a simple app called FolderSync to do just that.
FolderSync comes in a lite version for free in the Play Store that does everything we need to set up our automatic photo backups. The interface can seem tricky at first glance if you don’t understand how it works so let’s do a step by step walk-through to explain the whole process.
Step 1: Get Familiar With What Makes a Sync
There are three different parts that make up a sync: the original file location, a cloud storage account (in this case, Google Drive account), and a folderpair. In the ensuing steps we will go through each one of the parts and soon you’ll see how simple it is to set them up to work together.
Step 2: Set Up a Cloud Storage Account
Foldersync supports a great list of accounts you can set up, from Dropbox and Skydrive all the way down to your own FTP server. Since we’re looking at taking advantage of our available Google Drive space, we’ll choose that option.
On the home screen, you will see the navigation options where you can choose Accounts.
Once you go to the Accounts screen, you’ll see a tiny cloud button in the lower left-hand corner with a small plus sign on it. Tapping that will give you the cloud services you can choose from. Simply choose Google Drive.
Setting up a Google Drive account
Attaching your Google Drive account is as simple as following the steps to sign in and validate it. Once you do, make sure you tap the save button in the upper right corner of the screen to save it.
Step 3: Set Up a Folderpair
Setting up a folderpair is simply telling the app which folder on your phone you want synced with which cloud service you just set up. You can have several folders syncing to several services all at once. What we want to do is to back up our photos on our Google Drive account, making sure none are missed.
From the drop down menu, choose Folderpairs. Tap the small plus button in the lower left-hand corner to add a new folderpair. Most of the fields here are pretty simple to figure out but let’s have a walk-through.
Name: This is simply to identify what this folderpair is doing should you choose to set up more than one. You can name it something like “photos from phone” or something similar.
Account: This space needs to be the Google account we just set up.
Remote folder: It’d probably be good if you set up a specific folder in your Google Drive account before just placing the photos anywhere, so name it something you’ll remember like “photos from phone” then come back here and choose this new folder.
Local folder: This is for the folder on your phone that you want backed up. Most Androids have a folder on the SD card — whether it’s physical or the internal virtual one — called DCIM. To be safe that all of your photos make it to the backup session, choose the whole folder.
Sync type: Choose the “to remote folder” option.
Scheduling: This is entirely up to you. Choose when you want the backup to occur.
Sync options: Pay attention here because you’ll either get errors or you’ll miss some photos if you check or uncheck some of these wrongly. I typically ignore the first two boxes but the rest are imperative.
Make sure “Sync subfolders” is checked so all photos in the folders beneath the DCIM folder are synced.
Make sure the “Sync hidden files” box is unchecked or you’ll get errors. You don’t need any hidden files to backup your photos anyway.
Unless you want the photos deleted from your phone as they’re synced, make sure the “Delete source files after sync” option is unchecked.
I usually check the “Do not sync deletions” option because I don’t want to accidentally delete a wanted photo off my phone and then have the backup automatically deleted too — just a safeguard.
If you want to set up sync filters, you must opt to purchase the full version but that’s for another day. Finally, make sure you tap the save button in the upper right corner to save those changes.
Step 4: Start Your First Sync
Choose Sync status from the drop down menu to see a history of your syncs. Since this is the first time, there won’t be a list there but you will be able to start your first sync.
To start the sync, simple tap the sync button in the lower left-hand corner of the sync screen. The first sync will probably take some time, assuming you’ve got a lot of photos and videos ready to back up. Once it’s done, ensuing syncs should be quicker as it only backs up the files added or updated since the last time.
Although it would be nice if there was a built-in feature with Google Drive to automatically back up photos in full-resolution, that doesn’t exist yet and Foldersync fills the void very well. Now you can backup photos to your Google storage in two different ways. You can either have Google+ send the lowered resolution version without it counting against your free storage, or you can use Foldersync to sync and safely keep the full-sized images.