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Updated by Riley J. Dennis on December 6th, 2016.

It’s not a matter of if you should back up your data, but how. This is pretty easy on desktops nowadays thanks to cloud storage providers offering apps that automatically sync your files in the background, but this functionality is noticeably absent when you install their official mobile apps

No matter. There are numerous ways to automatically back up your data from an Android device, and with the following apps, you should be able to do so in whichever one works best for you.

Autosync

Let’s get the easiest solutions out of the way first. If you want something that can replicate Dropbox’s desktop client The Unofficial Guide To Dropbox The Unofficial Guide To Dropbox There's more to Dropbox than you might think: you can use it for file sharing, backing up your data, syncing files between computers and even remotely control your computer. Read More  on your mobile phone, developer MetaCtrl has what you’re looking for. The app goes by the name of Dropsync, and it works in the background, quietly syncing local folders with their remote equivalents the same way we wish the official Dropbox app would.

AndroidBackup-Dropsync-Sync-Options

Not only does Dropsync do it’s job well, it comes with a completely thorough set of options. You can make two folders mirror each other, upload files from your phone to Dropbox without downloading anything, or pull down files from a Dropbox folder while ignoring local changes. If there’s a certain time of day you want the files to sync, just let the app know, and you can also prevent it from using up cellular data while you’re at it.

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AndroidBackup-Dropsync-Settings-Files

The core functionality is available for free, but if you want to remove ads, sync multiple folders (or your entire Dropbox), or upload large files, you will need to buy the pro key for $5.99.

In case Dropbox isn’t your cloud storage provider of choice, the developer has also created alternative apps for Google Drive and Box that come with the same set of features. But if you are a Dropbox user, keep in mind that Dropsync is far from the only third-party way to move files to the service Better Than The Default: 5 Fantastic Dropbox Apps [Android] Better Than The Default: 5 Fantastic Dropbox Apps [Android] I'm a huge fan of Dropbox. I have been using it extensively for team collaborations, to transfer files between platforms, and for backup purposes. Dropbox' key to success is its ease of use, which is... Read More .

Download: Autosync Dropbox (Free)

Download: Autosync Google Drive (Free)

Download: Autosync Box Cloud Storage (Free)

FolderSync

Let’s say neither Dropbox, Google Drive, nor Box stores your files. In that case, you should check out FolderSync. This app includes those three options but also supports Microsoft OneDrive, SugarSync, Copy.net, and many others.

AndroidBackup-FolderSync-Cloud

But what about privacy Want To Ditch Big Business And Protect Your Privacy? Here's How Want To Ditch Big Business And Protect Your Privacy? Here's How Read More ? I hear you. As convenient as cloud storage may be, it requires trusting another company to hold onto your data Lessons Learned From Don't Spy On Us: Your Guide To Internet Privacy Lessons Learned From Don't Spy On Us: Your Guide To Internet Privacy Read More , and no matter what their terms of service are, your files rest on their servers. Having true control over your data at all times means keeping a local backup.

Fortunately FolderSync makes doing so just as easy as turning to cloud storage. The app lets you automatically sync using FTP or Windows Share (Samba/CIFS) on your local network. With the right router, creating your own mini-cloud is as easy as plugging in a hard drive.

FolderSync comes with the same extension options as MetaCtrl’s apps. This means you can determine which time of day to sync, choose whether to only do so over WiFi, pick how you want to save your files (mirror, download, upload, etc.), and more. The app also comes with a built-in file manager, so it can basically be your one-stop-shop for managing data on your phone or tablet.

AndroidBackup-FolderSync-Folderpair

The free app lets you test things out, but it only supports two accounts and lacks sync filters. To remove limits and add Taster support, you’re going to want the $2.87 pro version.

Download: FolderSync (Free)

BitTorrent Sync

One way to get around relying on the cloud (or creating your own ownCloud: A Cross-Platform, Self-Hosted Alternative to Dropbox & Google Calendar ownCloud: A Cross-Platform, Self-Hosted Alternative to Dropbox & Google Calendar The NSA and PRISM scares demonstrated that governments can and will access the various popular online cloud services. This means that now is one of the best times to consider creating your own cloud solution.... Read More ) is to simply sync your files across each device that needs them. As long as your electronics don’t all die or go missing at once, your data is accounted for, and you still get the convenience of not having to manually move documents and media from one machine to another. BitTorrent Sync can help you make this happen How To Sync Any Files To Your Smartphone Or Tablet Without The Cloud How To Sync Any Files To Your Smartphone Or Tablet Without The Cloud Learn how to directly sync any folders or files with your mobile device without having to deal with the annoyances of the Cloud. Read More .

BitTorrent Sync lets you share an unlimited number of folders across your devices, and there are no file size limits. It works with documents, photos, videos, and all the stuff you generally expect to be able to stick in a folder.

AndroidBackup-BitTorrentSync

This app doesn’t come with the extensive options the other ones currently possess. You can tell it not to use mobile data, but there’s no option to tell it to sync only at a specific time. Your options are to keep it running in the background all the time or only when you tell it to manually sync. Regardless, you have manual control over which folders get synced, with your camera photos being the first recommendation.

The BitTorrent Sync app is still relatively young, and my experience with it has been mixed, but it’s still worth a shot if you’re more interested in syncing your data than backing it up. Just keep in mind that if you accidentally delete a file in one location, it will disappear from all of them, so you’re still kind of living on the wild side. On the other hand, it’s completely free.

Download: BitTorrent Sync (Free)

What’s Your Favorite Approach?

These apps all allow you to backup or sync data automatically across multiple devices, providing a bit of comfort knowing that your files are safe in the event that one of your machines crap out. Each one utilizes a different approach, which can make them each appeal to people with different philosophies.

Do you want to save your data in the cloud, somewhere at home, or a combination of the two? Let us know which method you prefer and sound off with your favorite apps for the job.

  1. Sandeep
    May 20, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    DropSync is an excellent app

  2. sanjay
    February 26, 2016 at 5:58 pm

    What is the best way to sync withnetwork but not using bandwidth , i mean like shareit sync within network.
    i just want to sync a folder for my pc to mobile only when i intiiated to sync it when i am in network.

    how can i do it..
    I heared that dropbox can do, but lack of storage. I need to sync large files to and fro

    • Jimmy
      July 5, 2016 at 1:34 pm

      I use FolderSync to sync my phone with my NAS on my own network. You can configure it to only sync when connected to specific WiFi SSIDs, so I've configured mine to only sync when it connects to my own WiFi. You can also make it sync manually only if you prefer and it all works very well.

  3. Somchai Sappurit
    October 11, 2015 at 6:40 am

    DropSync use timer for checking files on server. Not realtime sync like the desktop version. Because of no PUSH API on the server side.

  4. ajPeters
    February 4, 2015 at 10:31 pm

    Thanks Bertel! Right time and the right place for me---I just found the lecture notes app for my samsung G Note 10.1 to replace the clunky S Note app for taking notes in class. Lecture Notes really does it all, but there's no 'one click' option to back up to Drop Box or Drive etc. I was exporting to a folder and then just syncing that with Drop Box, but Drop Sync takes all the headache out of it! Why isn't that just part of the Drop Box app....??? It's probably overkill anyway since the Lecture Notes app DOES offer an 'export to evernote' button. :-)

    • Bertel
      February 5, 2015 at 6:44 pm

      I'm glad Dropsync worked out for you. I've used it for years wondering why Dropbox would let such a good opportunity to add this functionality to its own app go to waste. You would think all of the cloud storage providers would support something like this, but nope.

    • Bertel
      February 5, 2015 at 6:54 pm

      I’m glad Dropsync worked out for you. I’ve used it for years wondering why Dropbox would let such a good opportunity to add this functionality to its own app go to waste. You would think all of the cloud storage providers would support something like this, but nope.

  5. Fik of Borg
    February 4, 2015 at 5:46 pm

    I tried Dropsync to sync several directories (Whatsapp, Tasker, Titanium) in my old Samsung i9100, and it worked flawlessly for a while until it developed a tendency to get stuck sometimes while syncing, draining the battery and needing a reboot (killing and restarting Dropsync never helped). This prompted me to try several ROMs (Cyanogen, RootBox, AOKP, Paranoid, SlimKat, etc) but the behaviour was the same, even after having my device's mainboard replaced due to unrelated issues. I have it disabled for now and manually copy files every morning to a network share with ES File Explorer.
    Now I am using DropSpace to sync a single small txt file and even then it sometimes get stuck (but does not drain the battery, just does not sync until reboot).

    • Bertel
      February 5, 2015 at 6:47 pm

      I'm sorry to hear that. This is the risk that comes with third-party apps. Independent developers just don't have the resources to support all the different versions of software and hardware out there. Sometimes things work as expected, and sometimes they don't.

    • Bertel
      February 5, 2015 at 6:53 pm

      I’m sorry to hear that. This is the risk that comes with third-party apps. Independent developers just don’t have the resources to support all the different versions of software and hardware out there. Sometimes things work as expected, and sometimes they don’t.

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