How to Sync Photos to Google Drive Via FolderSync

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.


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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.

foldersync - homescreen

Foldersync homescreen

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

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.

Folderpair setup

Folderpair setup

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.

Sync status

Sync status

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.

Conclusion

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.


Summary

Foldersync allows users to automatically back up any folder on their Android device to one of many different cloud storage services including Google Drive.

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  • Vera

    How I can choose another local folder to sync in the folderpairs page? it keeps on going to the external sd card in my phone. While I want to sync the folder located in the internal sd card of phone. thanks

    • Duggy

      Press the menu key and choose change path. :)

    • Nick C

      I can’t figure out how to choose another folder either. There is no ‘menu’ button on my Samsung Tablet 2.

      After 30 minutes, figured it out. Make sure Account chosen is not SSD and instead your google drive. Problem solved.

  • Kait

    Super helpful article for someone who is lazy. Thanks for putting this together.

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  • http://blog.yskan.nl yskan

    Great tutorial, thanks a lot!

  • Caite

    I’m just getting into apps and still struggle with technology. Your walk though made it easy to do what I wanted :) thanks for your insight and patience to create this!

  • http://www.cladlab.com Geoffrey Hunter

    Great tutorial! FolderSync was just the app I needed to sync photos from my phone to computer. All of the other sync to cloud services I had tried so far either reduced the resolution or didn’t allow a one click download of every synced photo. And I love how flexible and powerful FolderSync is.

  • dusty

    I am based in Bangkok why does this app after validation convert to the Thai language

  • Daniel Gabris

    Hello. Anyone can help with my issue? I have configurated the foldersync to sync photos to google drive. It works ok but it copies only jpg files from my chosen folder and my cr2 (canon raw files, about 20MB large) are ignored. any idea why?

    • mikkelmus

      Maybe you have a filter that includes only jpg files?

  • Charlie Wolfe

    This is working for me, but my gallery isn’t creating a folder for my files.. I can access them with a files viewer application but not my gallery.. Any Help or ideas?

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