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Before Jelly Bean forced us to use MTP mode (mass transfer protocol) instead of Mass Storage Device, It was dead simple to backup my phone to my pc, because I only needed to plug it in, and sync the contents of the SD card to my PC.

I used an app called "Free File Sync", which basically just syncs any two folders in windows.

The problem now is, that MTP mode doesn't assign drive letters to the phone's memory (internal and SD), which causes that my syncing program simply doesn't recognize the device.

I have the same problem with other programs that I use to manage my phones SD card, namely "TreeSize free", which analyses any folder or drive and gives you an oversight of the space consumed by folders, etc. Again, since the phone is not assigned a drive letter, the program simply ignores it, as if it wasn't there.

So what are my options? Is there a default way of syncing MTP drives with Windows?

I also have tried to enable Mass Storage in my phone, but it doesn't work (the option is simply no longer there in Jellybean 4.1.2, or at least in my model)

Note, I don't want apps to make backups of my stuff (apps, pictures, etc), I already have them (Titanium Backup, etc), what I want is to be able to SYNC everything in my phone (backups included) to my pc automatically.

I could simply copy ALL files from Windows Explorer every single time, and then manually syncing it to the destination backup folder, but obviously is not convenient and loses the point of SYNCING.

So what can I do? I just want to once in a while sync everything in my phone to my pc as a backup.


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For readers: This answer of mine can be extended to OP's case as well. – Firelord Jul 10 at 9:32
UPDATE, I've added my own answer, read it below, the solution is the same app I was using Free File Sync, since version 7 enables MTP device synching. – DiegoDD Jul 16 at 15:16

5 Answers 5

The easiest way probably is to turn the mechanism around: instead of letting Windows do the sync, let the Android device take care. From there, you should have full access at least to your SDCard (internal as well as external). So all that's needed is a possibility for the Android device to access your Windows PC.

  1. On your Windows PC, create a "share" (i.e. share a directory to the network)
  2. On your Android device, install an app like e.g. FolderSync
  3. in FolderSync, setup at least one account (in your case, an SMB account pointing to your Windows machine) (thanks to arberg for pointing out this missing step!)
  4. In FolderSync, configure your "folder pairs": which directory on your Android device should get synchronized with which directory on the Windows share.

You can sync manually, or in time intervals. You even can restrict it to WiFi, so it wouldn't eat your data plan (I'm not sure wether you can restrict it to a specific WiFi network, so it would e.g. only sync at home -- but that's possible to do as well at least with some similar sync app).

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2.: in FolderSync create a SMB 'account' to mount the windows share. – arberg Jul 9 at 20:22
@arberg Ouch, of course! Thanks for pointing out the missing step! Added. – Izzy Jul 10 at 11:22

The bad news is there's no obvious/direct way to get a drive letter assigned to an MTP device. The MTP protocol operates at the file level rather than the filesystem/FAT cluster level, which is supposed to protect in some ways users from accidentally doing things that could be really destructive to their phone's filesystem (eg: reformat in a different format, corrupt the filesystem, making your phone appear to not work right when the sd card unmounts to remount on the pc, etc) you're not going to have the level of detailed info about the filesystem necessary for a program like treesize to accurately display the usage of the drive.

There are a number of different threads I found online about ways to make windows trick a MTP device into being treated as a mass storage device, but most of them appear to be false leads, or something that might (or might not) work on XP but is unlikely to work on a newer os like windows 7. Nothing I could replicate on my own machine. Most of those hack solutions seem to rely on such things as tricking windows into using the mass storage device driver instead of the MTP driver.

There do appear to be programs that attempt to sync over MTP mode as best they can (ie: the apps can compare the files by size, but it can compare by date/location/filename. Here's one for mac: and one for PC: (PureSync).

Another option is to look into apps that run on your phone that manages the syncing as Izzy suggested.

Additionally, if your phone is an HTC phone, it may come pre-installed with an application called HTC sync which can sync files between the phone and PC.

Another less automated way to get copies of "everything on your phone" onto your PC would be to just use ADB to backup your entire device filesystem regularly. Not quite as nice as a direct sync app since restore using ADB is all or nothing, however, if you have the right apps installed on your PC you can manually extract a specific file of interest from a specific backup archive (presuming you remember your backup password).

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

I am posting this as an answer to my own question, instead of just a comment, because I've found a solution.

In fact, the solution is to use the very same tool I was using, because they have recently updated it (version 7) enabling syncing of MTP devices.

Free File Sync

It works just as expected, and it's extremely easy to sync. The only downside is that comparing the folders (your local "backup" folder, vs. the devices memory) is slower than if it was a Mass Storage Device, but it is a more straightforward solution than the others.

As a side note, I’ve also used ES File Explorer successfully as a way to sync files (as suggested by gibfahn), but the advantage of FreeFileSync is that it works with just about any MTP device, being Android or not.

And the best of all, it's free!

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And thanks to @Firelord for the comment, be sure to check his answer to another question since he gives a very detailed explanation on how to use FFS – DiegoDD Jul 16 at 15:26

The only way I've found to do this is by using the FTP protocol over a shared WiFi network. Apps like ES File Explorer have the ability to run as an FTP client or server on the phone, and then you can use an app like Filezilla as a server on the computer.

This works for folders, and Filezilla does give you some options ("Overwrite if source file newer", or "Overwrite if size differs", or both), so you can get it to sync selectively.

I found this post detailing a quick way to get ftp working on ES File Explorer, then you just run FileZilla, type in the ftp address, press connect, and drag and drop. It'll ask you about overwriting.

I sync my music with this method, and it works pretty well. It's slower than wired syncing, and occasionally it will decide that it needs to overwrite all the files, but in general it works well.

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Here two years later, Goodsync has added an option to sync through MTP, and it works like a charm. Its a beta feature in v9 and will probably be in Goodsync 10, and it costs money. Be noted though that Goodsync support is bad in my experience. Goodsync can also sync the dir through wifi.

MTP requires a cable so in not automatic. Using wifi it can be automated, but the goodsync android app would use far too much battery, so if you want it fully automated you need to turn it around is suggested earlier, and use eg FolderSync on the android device.

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