Manual backups of a smartphone can be annoying, especially when dealing with folders that change frequently. This becomes especially troublesome when you want to backup large or arbitrary files.
Lucky for most users, it is now common for routers to USB or eSATA storage, or a dedicated NAS (Network attached storage), and for the uncommon situation of not having a router or dedicated NAS, a shared folder on any PC can be used as a backup location.
For this tutorial, I will be using a free but ad supported application called FolderSync Lite
While this application supports a number of cloud storage solutions, the main benefit comes from being able to save to a network share on your LAN. Furthermore, it allows you to only have it sync when it is charging, thus you will not have to worry about it eating up a ton of battery power while trying to backup that 20GB 4K video that you recorded .
The UI is not very intuitive, but luckily it doesn't require too many steps to get it working with a network share.
Instructions (click on the images for a larger view):
To get started, first install the application, and make sure you are connected to your WiFi network.
- Launch FolderSync Lite and swipe through the intro.
- At the end if the intro, it will ask for permissions to access files on your device; be sure to allow it.
- Once you have given it permission, in main UI for the app, click on "CREATE NEW SYNC".
- The setup wizard will then ask you to create a name for the backup, give it any name you want, this is just so you can spot the backup profile within the app.
- The next page will be the account page, ignore the one that is prefilled, and click on "ADD ACCOUNT".
- A list of account types will appear, be sure to scroll to the bottom, and then select "SMB/CIFS".
- The SMB page will now ask you to create a unique name. You can give it the same name as you used for the profile, or create an entirely new name, it will accept both.
- Next, it will ask for the IP address for the network share. In my case, I will be using my NAS, and its IP happens to be 192.168.1.3, but for your network share, the IP may be different.
- On the same page, you will have to enter in the login info for the network share. If the network share is not password protected, then simply enable "Use anonymous login". If you have it password protected, then enter in the username and password that you normally enter to access the network share. For this tutorial I created a folder that had no password protection.
- Once all of the required info is entered, you can then click on "SAVE".
- You will then be taken back to the previous account page, but the name of the SMB/CIFS account that you created. All you have to do here is click on "NEXT".
- Now you can select the Sync type. For me, I want a one way sync, as I only want it to act as a backup, and not have the ability to impact files stored on the smartphone, thus I selected "To remote folder".
- Click on "NEXT".
- Now we will be presented with the page to select the backup location. The "Remote folder" will be the backup destination on your network share. Simply select a folder on your network share that you want the backups to be saved, and then click on the green plus sign to select it. For example, on my device, I created a folder named "Smartphone backups" and then created a sub-directory called "Axon Pro" this will allow me to keep track of which device the backups belong to when I view the network share from my PC.
- For the "Local folder", select the folder that you want a backup to be made of. In my case, I wanted a backup copy of the DCIM folder to be made, as I want automated backups of my images and 4K videos.
- Once you are done, the folder select window will look something like this but with the folders you selected. If everything looks correct, then simply click on "NEXT".
- Now we will create out schedule, enable "Use scheduled sync", and select a sync interval. I used "Every 5 minutes" as it will only be active when the charger is connected anyway.
- Click on "NEXT".
- Click on "SAVE".
- Click on the backup schedule that you just created (Click on the name of the schedule and not the buttons under it).
- Scroll to the bottom of the page, and then enable "Only sync if charging".
- Click on "SAVE"
If needed, you can also enter in the SSID of your home network under the "Allowed WiFi SSID's" (further up in the "Edit folderpair" page ) to prevent it from attempting to backup to a NAS on a different network if they have the same folder layout.
You should now have the application scheduled to basically start backing up the folder within 5 minutes of being connected to a charger when on your home network.
As a final note, bittorrent sync offers a higher level of security, as there is encryption taking place, but it requires the backup location to also be capable of running the software, and the company has been steadily crippling the free software, while wanting to charge a reoccurring fee for what is essentially a decentralized P2P service.
I am am always on the lookout for a better automated backup solution, but so far, this application has been reliable for me.
Since it is limited to 2 accounts on the free version (basically 2 folders), I have it backing up my DCIM folder, and my downloads folder.