When it comes to online backup and cloud storage, I live by one simple rule: the more ways you have to backup your data and access your stuff, the better it is. So when I upgraded to a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, I immediately started looking for Android backup apps that would give me access to my desktop data wherever I went.
I also wanted to be sure that the photos and videos I took with the phone’s excellent camera were automatically backed up somewhere.
Here are the online backup and cloud storage services I’m currently using on my Android phone. There are three services that I use more than any others: Google Drive, SugarSync and Dropbox. You can also check out our best cloud storage for Android picks and our roundup of the best cloud managers for Android, if you use multiple storage accounts.
1. Google Drive
As well as being an online backup fangirl, I’m a heavy Google user, so it was a no-brainer to have Google Drive for managing and backing up files. There are plenty of tutorials out there on how to use Google Drive for cloud backup and online storage. But for my purposes the important question was whether I could get access to files on my phone even without a network connection.
The short answer: yes, but you need to be connected to make it happen. All I had to do was go to My Drive and select the file I wanted. There’s a screen showing file details where you can toggle a switch to enable offline access.
You also get a notification when the file is available and after that you can access it any time you want, with all changes synced the next time you’re connected. This works like a dream and means that as long as I remember to enable key files for offline use, I always have access to everything. (Download from Google Play)
SugarSync is a popular desktop backup solution and my primary online backup and cloud storage provider. The Android version is similar in look and feel to the desktop version, which was recently revamped for the 2.0 release. It allows photo and video backup (separately), photo optimization and more.
You can select individual files to sync to device, effectively giving offline access to those items. I’m still testing the SugarSync Android client but so far, it seems useful. I particularly liked the ability to sort items by date modified which makes it easy to check that sync is up to date and working well. (Download from Google Play)
Dropbox is the third pillar in my cloud backup trifecta. It has a neat interface and some particularly useful features. Like SugarSync, it offers the option to upload photos and videos, but where Dropbox wins out is that it does this automatically and seamlessly.
I can relax when I take a picture or make a video, knowing that the next time I’m on my PC, I’ll be able to download it from the Dropbox desktop client – no more cables.
And I love the fact that you can favorite an item to save it for online use. Dropbox is fast and it works and for that reason it’s the best Android backup client I’ve tried so far.(Download from Google Play). Beyond those three services, I’ve installed a few more because you can never backup too much. The other Android backup clients on my phone are OneDrive, MediaFire, PogoPlug and MEGA..
Since I have a OneDrive account, I figured it couldn’t hurt to have the Android client, but I’m not particularly impressed. While it means I can get access to files stored on OneDrive when I have a connection, I couldn’t find settings for automatic upload or offline access, so I don’t use it much.
I don’t use the desktop version much either, but for the one time in a million when I need something stored on OneDrive, it’s there. (Download from Google Play)
MediaFire is much the same. Uploading and sharing files worked well and you can create and share private links to content from the Android app.
But I felt that it was missing some features I’d like to see so it’s another client I don’t spend a lot of time on. (Download from Google Play)
Pogoplug does allow automatic upload from your camera, though this is a much slower and more painful process than with Dropbox. However, what you can do with the files is limited – you can share a link, rename or delete – that’s pretty much it.
Since I believe in having more than one backup, I use it to make sure I will never lose access to my photos, but it’s definitely a second class backup citizen in my book. (Download from Google Play)
There are a couple of unofficial MEGA clients around – I’m using MEGA secure cloud. It allows automatic photo and video sync, though you need to upload other documents manually.
It works pretty well, though in my limited trial it was hard to tell whether it would be as seamless as Dropbox. One thing I noticed is that when I enabled photo upload, the Android app made no attempt to upload existing photos – a notable difference from other apps in this roundup. (Download from Google Play)
So what’s the verdict? Which Android backup client works best? While this isn’t a comprehensive survey, my money is currently on Dropbox, because of the easy, quick upload and easy offline access.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – what about backup for the phone’s data itself? I’m still working on finding the perfect solution, and I’ll be sure to let you know when I find a great online backup solution for Android phones and tablets. Watch this space!