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Automated phone backup with Syncthing

How do you backup your phones? Do you?

I use to perform a copy of all the photos and videos from my and my wife’s phone to my PC monthly and then I copy them to an external HDD attached to a Raspberry Pi.

However, it’s a tedious job mainly because: - I cannot really use the phones during this process; - MTP works one in 3 times - often I have to fallback to ADB; - I have to unmount the SD cards to speed up the copy; - after I copy the files, I have to rsync everything to the external HDD.

The Syncthing way

Syncthing describes itself as:

Syncthing replaces proprietary sync and cloud services with something open, trustworthy and decentralized.

I installed it to our Android phones and on the Raspberry Pi. On the Raspberry Pi I also enabled remote access.

I started the Syncthing application on the Android phones and I’ve chosen the folders (you can also select the whole Internal memory) to backup. Then, I shared them with the Raspberry Pi only and I set the folder type to “Send Only” because I don’t want the Android phone to retrieve any file from the Raspberry Pi.

On the Raspberry Pi, I accepted the sharing request from the Android phones, but I also changed the folder type to “Receive Only” because I don’t want the Raspberry Pi to send any file to the Android phones.

All done? Not yet.

Syncthing main purpose is to sync, not to backup. This means that, by default, if I delete a photo from my phone, that photo is gone from the Raspberry Pi too and this isn’t what I do need nor what I do want.

However, Syncthing supports File Versioning and best yet it does support a “trash can”-like file versioning which moves your deleted files into a .stversions subfolder, but if this isn’t enough yet you can also write your own file versioning script.

All done? Yes! Whenever I do connect to my own WiFi my photos are backed up!

Tags: howto

By Andrea Scarpino on 2019-05-04