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Ask Slashdot: Local Sync Options For Android Mobile To PC? 146

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the rsync-of-course dept.
Bucc5062 writes "A previous mobile phone of mine, a Motorola Razr, had a very nice program call Motocast. With it any pictures and videos would be automatically uploaded to a local/home PC running something akin to a 'cloud' service. This was great tool for I did not want to store files in the greater 'cloud'. the Razr moved on and I currently have two phones at home, neither of which have the same ability to push files to a local PC automatically. I did some research and did not find any good substitute for local cloud type backup so I am putting this out to one of the most diverse crowds I know, Slashdot readers. Zumocast did not look like it did the trick (I don't want streaming to my mobile device) and Delite studios had local cloud, but they make no reference to automatically pushing files to the server. I have people at home who are not tech savvy and would never remember to do it manually. Rolling my one is a long term option though it would require me learning the APIs for Android and I guess Windows. Is there something out that that works as good as Motocast?" ownCloud seems like a reasonable contender (installation on Debian, at least in the case of a few users and sqlite, is pretty easy). Their Android app has an option to automatically sync videos and photos as they are taken. But are there other options that are easier to install for folks uncomfortable with the idea of running Apache and an SQL server?
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Ask Slashdot: Local Sync Options For Android Mobile To PC?

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  • Google Plus (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sanosuke001 (640243) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @01:46PM (#46230093)
    You can have Google Plus keep your photos/videos updated in your plus account as private. Then, you can download them to your pc if you need to. It does mean that google has your stuff but don't they anyway with it on your phone? If this bothers you, stop using your phone.
  • BitTorrent Sync (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @01:47PM (#46230107)

    BitTorrent Sync is what you are looking for.

  • Duh? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Keruo (771880) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @01:49PM (#46230121)
    Isn't it obvious to use rsync+ssh [] for syncing unix to unix?
    I don't use that one myself, just first result from google which is free.
  • FolderSync app (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Fencepost (107992) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @01:52PM (#46230155) Journal
    I'd look at the FolderSync [] app, ~$3. It supports a huge number of backend connection types including FTP/SFTP, SMB/CIFS and WebDAV to cover most of your local server needs. It also covers most of the major and many minor cloud storage providers. You can set it up to sync only on specified wifi networks, to sync on schedules or when files change, etc.

    There's also a "lite" version, which only allows 2 accounts, no Tasker support and no sync filters (which I've never fiddled with anyway, so may not be that important).

    • by CCarrot (1562079) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @03:18PM (#46231123)

      I'd look at the FolderSync [] app, ~$3. It supports a huge number of backend connection types including FTP/SFTP, SMB/CIFS and WebDAV to cover most of your local server needs. It also covers most of the major and many minor cloud storage providers. You can set it up to sync only on specified wifi networks, to sync on schedules or when files change, etc.

      There's also a "lite" version, which only allows 2 accounts, no Tasker support and no sync filters (which I've never fiddled with anyway, so may not be that important).

      Came here specifically to recommend this one too, so +1.

      Have been using it, in conjunction with SuperBackup* [] to back up photos, contacts, texts, calendars, etc. to personal FTP storage for years, and it looks like it'll support a network share drive as a backup site (haven't tested that yet). It's a bit resource intensive on first run (naturally), but once it's caught up it's light and unintrusive...and it just works. One of the nicer features is that you can specify whether to wait until you're plugged in to sync, so you're much less likely to wind up with a dead phone after taking a bunch of photos at an event (not an issue, I guess, if you only sync to network drives at home...)

      * Superbackup also has a lite version that's ad-supported, so you can try before you buy.

      • by CCarrot (1562079) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @03:34PM (#46231321)

        And, an anecdote in support of the tech-challenged: I installed FolderSync on a friend's Galaxy for her, and when she 'upgraded' to apple (bah, but I must agree more suited to her), we restored her contacts, photos, etc right up to the day before she got her new iPhone...she said she never really noticed it running, but it had everything neatly backed up for her nonetheless.

        • by Cammi (1956130) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @05:35PM (#46232555)
          There is no foldersync for iphones .... what are you really using?
          • by CCarrot (1562079) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @05:57PM (#46232795)

            There is no foldersync for iphones .... what are you really using?

            Sorry, that was a bit unclear :)

            We just used some sort of file manager app from Apple to download the backed up files from the FTP site to her new iPhone. My point was that FolderSync kept those files up to date for her on her Galaxy, so when her phone got smashed, she didn't lose anything...she figures maybe the last week or so of texts was missing, but no contacts (backed up weekly, courtesy of SuperBackup and FolderSync) and no photos that she could remember (backed up nightly, only FolderSync required). I don't think she bothered restoring the call history :)

    • by MobyDisk (75490) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @04:28PM (#46231887) Homepage

      That's great to know! Why is it that commercial photo / music management tools include options like "upload to facebook" and "upload to dropbox" but not "upload to SFTP/SCP server" which should work with anything? Is there some recent abhorrence to using standard protocols?

    • by phorm (591458) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @06:02PM (#46232823) Journal

      Just to clarify, the one by "Tacit Dynamics" ?

    • by Trogre (513942) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:39PM (#46233699) Homepage

      Something like that could work well. I'm also looking for an effective way to synchronize to a home server.

      For calendars this is already solved, since one can already install one of many CalDAV-enabling apps to synchronize calendars to your home server (running davical or some other CalDAV server).

      For files, I'm looking for something that can do effectively an rsync pull/push to an SSH server. I'll check out FolderSync and see if it does anything like that.

      Further, I'd really like to see a working SSHFS client, so when at home I could play video/music from my local media collection without needing to download it all to my tablet first.

      • by Fencepost (107992) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @09:55PM (#46234769) Journal
        There's at least one app that may do what you want (rsync backup [] by Michal Kowalczuk), but I've never used it.

        If that doesn't do the trick, I find that my tablet running Cyanogenmod 10.1.3 has rsync 3.0.7, but I've also installed extra bits and pieces ("Android Terminal Emulator" by Jack Palevich, "Terminal IDE" by Spartacus Rex, "Busybox Pro" by Stephen (stericson)) so I'm not 100% sure that it was originally available. You may be able to script and schedule something of your own based on scripts you use elsewhere, though with a few changes (e.g. "jping" instead of "ping", see Issue 29 on Terminal IDE's page though that indicates that it may be fixed).

      • by Fencepost (107992) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @09:58PM (#46234775) Journal
        I hit Submit too soon on the previous one. Isn't DLNA designed for that kind of in-home streaming of media between devices? If you're rolling your own for the sake of tinkering have at it, but if it's just to stream things around I'd look hard at the existing options first.
    • by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @07:48PM (#46233783) Homepage
      Sorry, I live overseas and I can't buy apps even if I want to. I thought I would be clever and use a VPN: nah, turns out that Google doesn't check your IP, they check your SIM card. A big middle finger to me and everyone else. We are all doomed to use only free apps, forever.
    • by kbahey (102895) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @10:48PM (#46235059) Homepage


      I use FolderSync Lite [], which is free, and assign certain folders to be synced using SFTP to a Linux server. Any Linux server running OpenSSH has SFTP built in with no extra parts needed.

      The folders are mainly the camera, screenshots, ...etc. You can tell it to only sync when there is WiFi, and when the phone is powered on.

  • by alen (225700) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @01:52PM (#46230159)

    i use iphoto on a Macbook with my galaxy note 3. imports photos when i plug it in and open iphoto
    adobe has a cheapo $80 range program as well, can't remember the name. for $120 i think they will sell you the photo and video editing apps together

  • by blackraven14250 (902843) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @01:54PM (#46230179)
    You didn't manage to find Titanium Backup Pro + (Dropbox | Box | Google Drive)? You clearly didn't look very hard.
    • by Shados (741919) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @01:57PM (#46230243)

      Well, one of the primary requirements in the summary is to not use the public cloud in favor of a private one (so stuff goes straight to your PC without touching dropbox/google drive/whatever).

      While I think that's kind of a waste of time, it was pretty clear.

    • by mlts (1038732) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @02:03PM (#46230301)

      I use Titanium Media Sync for the files and Titanium Backup for everything else. If one is afraid of Dropbox or a cloud service, then that is one issue. However, if one is just backing up apps, Titanium Backup has very good encryption (encrypting, it uses a public key, decrypting, it prompts and unlocks a private key.)

      Of course, Dropbox's app does a good job for saving photos to its storage.

      If one needs encryption, there are always programs that use EncFS that remote sync to cloud providers. This allows files to be stored on Dropbox, et. al. encrypted completely.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @01:55PM (#46230185)


    It enables everything you want and more. Available for Android and apple. But the android version lets you back up anything.

  • by alen (225700) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @01:55PM (#46230197)

    i believe dropbox has an auto upload feature that you can limit to wifi. set up a client on the PC and it will sync the photos there. then just copy them to another folder on the hard drive. google drive should do the same

    evil apple has photo sync where you can set up icloud on a PC and have it sync photos as well. very easy to use. just set up icloud on your iphone and the icloud PC client. if you have a macbook then iphoto will just grab your photos out of icloud when you open it up

  • Sweet Home app (Score:4, Informative)

    by werelnon (864688) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @01:57PM (#46230239) Homepage

    Syncs images and videos to a SMB share whenever you are connected to your LAN: []

    Simple and works for me.

  • by calmond (1284812) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @02:07PM (#46230353)
    A good friend of mine wrote an app called Syncness that will sync music between a windows file share and an android phone. You can use it for other stuff beyond just MP3's though. I'd recommend giving it a try!
  • by thechemic (1329333) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @02:09PM (#46230367)
    ownCloud is a cloud solution that you have control over yourself. It can sync across multiple platforms: windows, Linux, mac, mobile, etc.
  • by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @02:12PM (#46230399)

    I was looking into similar options - came across BTSync, OwnCloud, and AeroFS as options but haven't really played with any of them yet.

  • by galloog1 (3433335) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @02:30PM (#46230571)
    Even if it has a clunky interface, I enjoy Pogoplug for this reason exactly. It is local storage but it acts as your own personal cloud.
  • Synology NAS (Score:5, Informative)

    by Scutter (18425) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @02:31PM (#46230579) Journal

    This may be overkill for your needs, but I have a Synology NAS that does this. It's got a Dropbox-like app called Cloud Sync to sync all your devices with your NAS (and will sync WiFi-only for your Android if you want). It also has a separate photo app that will auto-upload your photos to your NAS. It includes many other apps that might interest you as well.

  • by fermion (181285) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @02:32PM (#46230589) Homepage Journal
    But in this case if you are uploading a picture through the mobile service, then there is no reason to believe that the NSA or whoever does not have it. A picture does not have to be permanently stored 'in the cloud' for it to be vulnerable. As long as the telco has it for a minute, and it has to if the picture is moved from the phone to the computer through their network, then there is a copy of it somewhere at least for a little while, and privacy is an issue. I have heard that current case law says that if it is transmitted through a third party then no warrant is needed.

    The only secure way is use a USB cable or your home network to connect the phone to the computer.

    I know that one issue, at least with Apple, was that photos could not be deleted from the service. This meant all picture were public always. Now the only issue is if the picture is still in a backup somewhere.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @02:33PM (#46230605) Homepage Journal
    You can download already made VM images [] for VMWare, KVM or VirtualBox, or, if you already run Linux and want something lighter than a VM, you can run OwnCloud inside a Docker container [].
  • by almitydave (2452422) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @02:34PM (#46230627)

    There's a very simple app called BotSync [] that can be set to sync a folder either up or down manually or at an interval. It uses SFTP, so no special software is required on your Linux PC. It's pretty barebones, but brain-dead simple.

    Other than that, Dropbox is probably the way to go if you want them synced as soon as they're taken. Ubuntu one also has a similar solution [] that may work for your needs (and do other nifty things as well).

  • by RivenAleem (1590553) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @02:37PM (#46230667)

    If you have a Samsung (which I do) you have have it sync using their Kies software. I don't think you can sync remotely, but you can definitely do it locally over the same wifi network. You can set it to automatically connect and backup when you join the wifi network.

  • by teadrop (1151099) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @02:37PM (#46230669)
    There isn't any good local solution (all of them are buggy or too complicated) but there are plenty of cloud based solution. The Vanilla Dropbox in Android automatically sync photo and videos from phone (you just need to enable the option). Same as SkyDrive (a little buggy). These options are easy to setup and needs no attention from users. If you want to sync some none video/photo folders, you need to buy an app call DropSync Pro ($5), it sync your Android folders just like your Dropbox on PC. The added advantage is you don't need to be at home to sync all these stuffs. I was fixated on using a LAN solution for a long time but finally gave up. The world had moved on and we might as well... Security wise I don't see any particular issues. Most of the cloud storage have no high profile security breach so far. If you have very slow Internet at home it may be an issue, but DropBox is very efficient, it update the files incrementally instead of uploading everything new.
  • by Barbarian (9467) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @02:54PM (#46230837)

    I have had good success with Syncme Wireless. Only works with smb shares, but does the job well.

  • by Marrow (195242) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @02:56PM (#46230865)

    The pay version unlocks features that allow periodic syncing of files to a ssh server. I have never tried these features , so I dont know how well they work.

  • by Victor Tramp (5336) <info@[ ] ['ros' in gap]> on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @02:58PM (#46230895) Homepage

    it's been said a couple times by now i'm sure.. but i use an instance of owncloud to host/backup/share my

    contacts - via CardDav
    calendar - via CalDav
    pictures/files - via webDav
    browser history/bookmarks/addons/prefs - via mozilla_sync (an own cloud app)

    i host it on my own hardware, it's basically php+apache (could be nginx or whatever, i happen to be using apache) postgres (could be mysql, whatever else)..

    i sync it with thunderbird/lightning (but it'll sync with anything really)

    I can't understand why most people aren't doing it.

    i don't rely on google, motocast, or any third party for hosting/storing/sharing my data. it's mine own. on my own cloud.

    and hell, that's only about a quarter of the functionailty.. owncloud also replaces dropbox, sharepoint, and is slowly replacing googledocs

    you can also link owncloud to dropbox/ubuntuone/otherclouddiskprovider and transfer all your junk outta their servers int your servers. you can even link it to other ownCloud instances.

    and if you REALLY wanna get fancy, you can even use openswift (the OpenStack storage backend) as your storage underneath..

    and since the whole thing's GPL'd i don't feel like a corporate shill for pimping it so hard.


  • by alucardX (734977) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @03:05PM (#46230979)
    I was just looking into this myself so the timing of this /. artical is funny to me. None the less, I find all of the options to be inadequate. I think the idea of syncing to servers is nice and suits some people, whether it is your own server or someone elses but whatever happended to being able to just sync to the one or two computers that you use on a daily basis? Nothing I know of really seems to do that with an Android phone. Even Apple iThings have that capability!!!!! Why can't someone roll(google, I'm looking at you) a decent way for this to be done with a stock Android phone. Even if they just wrote a spec that all Android releases would conform to then that would give third parties the ability to write programs to interact with the phone in that way. There would no doubt be useful programs written that were both Free/Libre software and non-free. As of now though, my vote is to roll my own server to sync to for now. I don't want google/dropbox/RandomCompanyThatIsTheNext"BIG"Thing to have my data whenever they want it. I think there are some real privacy concerns with that idea in general. Not to mention to gives incentive to companies to take the user's control away from them just for the sake of maintaining subscriptions.
  • by naris (830549) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @03:31PM (#46231293)

    You could try Pogo Plug []'s Private Cloud, a $50 box you can plug a USB hard drive into and use as your own 'private' cloud. There is sync/streaming/backup software for Andriod and iDevices and backup/management software for Windows and Mac.

    //also the PogoPlug is a small linux box that can be modified to do whatever you want.

  • by Perry Pederson (3535133) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @04:08PM (#46231659)
    I run Dropbox on my Nexus 10 tablet and Galaxy III phone. It seamlessly uploads pictures and videos taken with either device to the 'cloud', where they are downloaded into each other's "dropbox folders", as well as my work and home PC's. It's been trivial to set up and use it like this; recommended.
  • by ravnous (301936) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @04:54PM (#46232155)

    PhotoSync - []

    In the app, you specify an SMB share. Any time you take a picture or video, the app will be notified. The next time you're on the same wifi network as your PC, the app will copy the new pictures/videos to the share. Optionally, you can have the app delete the pictures/videos off your phone after a user-defined amount of time after they've been synced, so that you don't run out of space on your phone (unless you set this time threshold longer than it takes to fill up your phone).

  • by Chris_Jefferson (581445) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @05:03PM (#46232247) Homepage

    Dropsync is an Android app which does true syncing of a directory on your phone to dropbox (in the same way as the desktop app does). To be, this is the one killer application for Android.

    Unless you are fundamentally opposed to dropbox for some reason, this is in my opinion the best option.

  • by geneing (756949) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @05:13PM (#46232343)
    Bittorent Sync. Works quite well. []
  • by senor.rudy (3535185) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @05:20PM (#46232409)
    I use Air Droid and ES file explorer on 3 tablets and 2 phones. Both are free, easy and quick. Air Droid will allow you to download your stuff from Android to a PC very quickly but it is manual, no automation or sync (for free version anyway). ES allows you to use your network to copy from phone to a PC using FTP, SMB/CIFS, or cloud, again, manual and no automation.
  • by BobMcD (601576) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @05:41PM (#46232629)

    My wife and I use FolderSync (purchased via the Amazon store so we can share the one copy) to sync files with a Linux box via SSH.

    As a bonus, we then use Unison to sync that to the Windows PCs and another Linux box that's hosting a website in an offsite datacenter.

    Pros: Dirt cheap and easy. Supports files, as opposed to something like Google+ that's only going to sync stuff it knows - photos, etc. For example, it syncs my ebook collection which is a mishmash of formats.

    Cons: Slow to sync and poorly managed settings can easily overrun your data cap.

    Fortunately, you can set FolderSync to only use WiFi. Next would be adding an app that enables WiFi whenever you're home - then you can schedule the sync to run overnight.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @08:54PM (#46234319)

    and map to a Samba share (or windows share if you want).

    It has the option to sync files or folders, also allow you to set to only do so over Wifi and you set the schedule. Lastly, you also get to pick if the phone is the "master" or if the share server is the "master"

  • by (1706780) on Wednesday February 12, 2014 @11:52PM (#46235423)
    I use Bittorrent Sync very effectively for this... doesn't even require a server or anything. Pretty easy to set up on a PC.
  • by lutusp (2715359) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @04:20AM (#46236263)
    I have a free Android app listed on Google Play that may work for you -- SSHelper: []... . It supports SSH, SCP, SFTP and a few other secure shell-related protocols.
  • by (1073654) on Friday February 14, 2014 @08:37AM (#46244379)

    As others have already pointed out, BitTorrent Sync is the answer. []
    It supports Windows, Mac, Linux, iPhone, Android, you name it.
    And you are not limited to syncing between your phone and your PC; you can also sync between multiple PCs and many other devices.
    Highly recommended.
    The only disadvantage is that it is not open source.
    Hopefully the ClearSkies project will succeed, and in the future we will have all these advantages using an open source solution.

  • by lga (172042) on Friday February 14, 2014 @09:41AM (#46244751) Homepage Journal

    I'll add my voice to the recommendations for Bittorrent Sync []. It's fast, encrypted, doesn't rely on a third party hosting, and it doesn't even have to leave your LAN if you're at home. Avoiding needlessly uploading over a crappy ADSL connection is a major plus point.

  • by Trixter (9555) on Friday February 14, 2014 @05:09PM (#46250107) Homepage
    iSyncr does exactly what the OP is asking for. It was built for syncing MP3s from itunes to android, but it can also sync all photos and videos to a directory on the PC that you specify. I back up my media this way over wifi while my phone charges overnight.

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