Any portable app for two-way sync with MTP device?

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Andrew Lee
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Any portable app for two-way sync with MTP device?

#1 Post by Andrew Lee » Fri Jul 31, 2015 7:44 pm

MTP = Media Transfer Protocol

Almost all unrooted Android smartphones and tablets that you plug in to your PC now do not give you a drive letter. Instead, you see an intelligible name that corresponds to the device, and you can perform some basic file operations on the device storage. That's MTP, the monstrocity that M$ has blessed us with.

Except all file-sync software that I have tried so far do not work with MTP mounts.

Imagine you have photos on your PC and photos on your smartphone that you are trying to keep in sync both ways i.e. photo deleted on your PC will be deleted on your smartphone, new photos added and vice versa.

And over the frigging wire please. Wifi is just too slow for file transfers, especially when video clips are involved.

Please, any solution at all?! :cry:

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Re: Any portable app for two-way sync with MTP device?

#2 Post by joby_toss » Fri Jul 31, 2015 10:55 pm

Starting with version 7, FreeFileSync added MTP device support:

https://www.freefilesync.org/faq.php

Note: haven't tested this yet. :oops:

P.S. but what do you do when you connect your device to a platform that has no drivers for it and doesn't recognize it? There might be a better (more universal) solution using an Android app on your phone and a FTP server or something... and Wi-Fi, of course... :)

P.S. 2: almost forgot... I'm using My Phone Explorer for this task, but my machine has the needed Samsung drivers installed already.

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Re: Any portable app for two-way sync with MTP device?

#3 Post by webfork » Sat Aug 01, 2015 12:43 pm

Andrew Lee wrote:unrooted Android smartphones
I would suggest either enabling Rockbox temporarily or using a microSD tool but it sounds like you need something smooth and easy on an ongoing basis.

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Re: Any portable app for two-way sync with MTP device?

#4 Post by Midas » Sun Aug 02, 2015 8:49 am

webfork wrote:I would suggest either enabling Rockbox temporarily...
:!: I'll die an absolute fan of Rockbox, who is responsible for bringing superior audio quality as well as audio format agnosticism to otherwise capable but severely crippled portable hardware. I should know, I still own Rockbox upgraded iRivers H3x0 (3!) and Sansa Vuze jukeboxes...

BTW, for news from the ongoing development of the Android port, check http://www.rockbox.org/wiki/AndroidPort.

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Re: Any portable app for two-way sync with MTP device?

#5 Post by Andrew Lee » Mon Aug 03, 2015 8:29 pm

Starting with version 7, FreeFileSync added MTP device support:

https://www.freefilesync.org/faq.php
Thanks! I did previously rule out V6.x of FFS. So this time, I tested FFS V7.3. It did work, in the sense that it allowed me to specify an MTP node as one of the targets. However, it seems most MTP devices do not support the setting of date/time of files. I think this discussion summarizes the limitation best. The result is that after a sync, another comparison will show all the files as being changed and needing an update.

There are a couple of workarounds that I can think of (eg. separate of date/size as comparision parameters as mentioned in the discussion), but they have not been implemented yet. Comparison of content is possible, but obviously that is too slow for normal/regular use, not to mention terribly inefficient.

I will be keeping an eye on newer versions and hope that this issue is resolved.
P.S. but what do you do when you connect your device to a platform that has no drivers for it and doesn't recognize it? There might be a better (more universal) solution using an Android app on your phone and a FTP server or something... and Wi-Fi, of course... :)
On Windows and most modern Linux distro, MTP is natively supported. We are not talking about ADB, where device-specific drivers are required.
I would suggest either enabling Rockbox temporarily or using a microSD tool but it sounds like you need something smooth and easy on an ongoing basis.
Not sure how Rockbox will help, since I am talking about smartphones (Moto-G) and tablet (Acer Iconia Tab), not music players.

For really fast syncing, I do shutdown the device, remove the microSD card and insert into a USB reader. But you can imagine how much a hassle that is. The speed is incredible, but it's not for regular use.

Back in the days when USB mass storage protocol is available on smart devices, it is also incredibly fast. However, it pulls the rug out from the apps by disconnecting the underlying storage, which is why I think Google decided to abandon the protocol on newer versions of Android. I think that's the correct decision, but sadly the replacement protocol is just too crippled.

Currently, I run SwiFTP on the smart-device, SyncBack on the PC and sync using FTP. It works, but it's slow. I have also tried BTSync, and that's equally slow and not as unpredictable.

When copying individual files, I still connect via USB and copy over MTP, but I have a photo/video archive on the PC that consolidates the family media (about 35GB currently), and syncing that by hand is not practical.

Bottomline: One is currently unable to mount an Android smart device as a file storage system OVER A WIRED LINK and manipulate its content safely, quickly and capably. Maybe most users don't really care to have such a capability, so Google did not devote much resources into implementing it. But doesn't Apple users sync their iTunes library over a wired link (lightning cable)? Wireless is obviously not quick enough for such large data transfer.

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Re: Any portable app for two-way sync with MTP device?

#6 Post by webfork » Tue Aug 04, 2015 4:34 pm

Not sure how Rockbox will help, since I am talking about smartphones (Moto-G) and tablet (Acer Iconia Tab), not music players.
I mention it because Rockbox supports some Android devices and enables both MTP and the other protocol. I don't know about those two phones.
Last edited by webfork on Thu Aug 06, 2015 6:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: (better wording; added the word "phones")

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Re: Any portable app for two-way sync with MTP device?

#7 Post by JohnTHaller » Wed Aug 05, 2015 8:24 pm

I've found MTP exceedingly unreliable for copying any large quantity of files across multiple devices. From what I've heard, the MTP stack in general in both Windows and most devices is just absurdly buggy. I can't even get my girlfriend's music library to copy to a device just using Explorer over MTP in Windows 7. I've always wound up giving up, popping the microSD and putting it in a reader.
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Re: Any portable app for two-way sync with MTP device?

#8 Post by Andrew Lee » Mon Aug 10, 2015 8:41 pm

Sigh, that has been my experience as well.

Sometimes, a file copy will simply hang in the middle of transfer, and nothing sort of rebooting the smart device can make it work again.

Exceedingly frustrating.

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Re: Any portable app for two-way sync with MTP device?

#9 Post by Andrew Lee » Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:01 pm

Just a followup on this topic...

I have pretty much given up on MTP, and wireless is too slow for me.

So what I am doing these days is to use OTG USB. You need:

- The fastest USB memory stick you can get (and your PC can support)
- An OTG cable (I got mine free with one of my Android phones)
- Android devices with OTG USB support (most do these days)

Copying the files to the USB memory stick should be a breeze. Copying the files to the Android device via OTG USB takes a little longer (depending on your Android device), but extremely reliable.

Best file manager is to use is Total Commander, which is ad-free and works well with OTG USB (compared to some of the other file managers I have tried). The interface takes a little getting used to, but nothing too insurmountable.

I routinely copy multi-gig worth of files to my Android devices now without the frustration that comes with MTP.

Hope this helps others having the same problem...

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Re: Any portable app for two-way sync with MTP device?

#10 Post by Midas » Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:31 am

In my experience, MTP is flaky to say the least...

I don't usually transfer much data so I make do with Dropbox -- but it's good to know there are other routes. 8)

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Re: Any portable app for two-way sync with MTP device?

#11 Post by webfork » Sat Aug 04, 2018 7:03 am

Andrew Lee wrote:
Wed Aug 01, 2018 6:01 pm
Hope this helps others having the same problem...
No, it's really good to hear that. I had a similar problem with an Android some time ago but just didn't feel like pulling the trigger on a separate, high capacity, high speed memory addition. That was the obvious fix but I just insisted there was a way to fix this within the device.

I tried working out something with a wireless "drive" app to copy my files over the air but it was too slow and I didn't keep up with it. Eventually just gave up on that device as a media station.

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