Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

Started Feb 2, 2019 | Discussions
lardo Junior Member • Posts: 32
Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

I’m getting ready for a hiking trip with NO laptop, and I’d like to backup SD cards from my Sony RX100 camera to a USB drive (or other SD cards) using my Google Pixel 1 phone. I’ll try to upload some photos from SD cards to cloud storage, but in many locations I won’t have cellular or wifi access.

After some research, it looked like I could plug a USB C hub it into my Pixel phone and have the ability to copy from SD cards to a USB drive, while also charging my phone (some USB C hubs provide a Type-C PD Charging port). So, I bought the product below.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07K1F195M/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02__o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Plugging this USB C hub into my phone, I can read a USB drive plugged into the hub’s USB port, but it can’t read an SD card plugged into the hub’s SD slot. The phone reports an “Issue with the USB drive” and offers to format it (the SD card was formatted in my Sony RX100 camera).

I installed a file manager app (ES File Explorer File Manager), but still have the same problem.

Is there something I’m missing that prevents me from reading an SD card slot in a USB C hub? (or maybe I just have a defective device...)

Any recommendations, or other solutions that allow me to reliably backup SD cards using my Pixel phone?

(I was hoping to avoid a solution like a WD My Passport Wireless SSD External Portable Drive)

Thanks!

Sony RX100
If you believe there are incorrect tags, please send us this post using our feedback form.
seeblue Senior Member • Posts: 1,756
Re: Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

Maybe a little kludgy but take a look at a SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick or a SanDisk Dual Drive USB Type-C.

I suppose you’d have to download the images from the camera to your phone first, though. But both of these devices are tiny and perfect for backpacking light.

Trevor_S
Trevor_S Regular Member • Posts: 395
Re: Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

Too much power draw for two devices.  Unless you can get a powered hub, powered by a battery ?

Other option of course is a phone that supports uSD and then use uSD (with an SD adaptor) in your camera, then use the uSD in the phone with a USB thumb drive connected eg my Galaxy Note 8 can do this (but Sony and a few other Android phone manufacturers support uSD) and is how I use it with my A6000.

One of the reasons I stopped using Google phones is the lack of uSD support.

 Trevor_S's gear list:Trevor_S's gear list
Sony Alpha a99 Sony a6000 Sony 24-70mm F2.8 ZA SSM Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* Sony 85mm F1.4 ZA Carl Zeiss Planar T* Sony 100mm F2.8 Macro +6 more
I2K4
I2K4 Senior Member • Posts: 1,109
Re: Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

Have you tried other SDHC card brands and formats, e.g. NTFS or FAT32? Card readers can be finicky about some not others - that would at least test for a defective reader. Another "workaround" could be to use a fast microSD card with an adapter in the Sony camera, since it appears there's a separate reader slot for that, too (?)

 I2K4's gear list:I2K4's gear list
Canon PowerShot S5 IS Canon PowerShot SX10 IS Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS +2 more
Mark B. Forum Pro • Posts: 27,299
Re: Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

lardo wrote:

I’m getting ready for a hiking trip with NO laptop, and I’d like to backup SD cards from my Sony RX100 camera to a USB drive (or other SD cards) using my Google Pixel 1 phone. I’ll try to upload some photos from SD cards to cloud storage, but in many locations I won’t have cellular or wifi access.

After some research, it looked like I could plug a USB C hub it into my Pixel phone and have the ability to copy from SD cards to a USB drive, while also charging my phone (some USB C hubs provide a Type-C PD Charging port). So, I bought the product below.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07K1F195M/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02__o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Plugging this USB C hub into my phone, I can read a USB drive plugged into the hub’s USB port, but it can’t read an SD card plugged into the hub’s SD slot. The phone reports an “Issue with the USB drive” and offers to format it (the SD card was formatted in my Sony RX100 camera).

I installed a file manager app (ES File Explorer File Manager), but still have the same problem.

Is there something I’m missing that prevents me from reading an SD card slot in a USB C hub? (or maybe I just have a defective device...)

Any recommendations, or other solutions that allow me to reliably backup SD cards using my Pixel phone?

(I was hoping to avoid a solution like a WD My Passport Wireless SSD External Portable Drive)

Why?  Seems like what you want to do is more complicated than using the Passport.

OP lardo Junior Member • Posts: 32
Re: Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

Thanks for the responses and comments.

The reason I was trying to avoid the WD My Passport SSD was due to its mixed reviews & cost. I was hoping for a solution like the USB C hub and a SanDisk Extreme Portable External SSD (cheaper, more flexible & possibly more reliable...) and use an external USB power bank for both the USB C hub & to recharge my phone.

After trying multiple things and lots of online reading, it looks like the problem is due to Google Pixel phones not supporting exFAT (apparently they didn’t want to pay Microsoft licensing fees).

The Pixel phone can read SD cards & disk drives formatted FAT32, but can’t read anything formatted exFAT.

So I think I have a few options:

All this hassle because Google didn’t want to pay an exFAT licensing fee for its Pixel phones....

DickyAus Veteran Member • Posts: 3,102
This works well.
2

Sorry about the poor photo ,

The Orico USB-3 hub has three USB-3 ports and an SD card slot + a micro SD card slot.

Provided your phone has a USB port that supports OTG it will work well. If your phone's USB port doesn't support OTG you can get a OTG adapter for a few bucks.

I have even used it to back up to a Toshiba external HD, but that drains the phone battery rather quickly.

I use this arrangement every time i go 'bush'. Every day I make a copy of the SD card to a new folder on one USB memory stick and then copy the copy to a second USB memory stick to be sure to be sure. I then format the SD card in my camera.

I can then view and play with the images via my phone.

 DickyAus's gear list:DickyAus's gear list
Olympus E-M1 Olympus E-M1 II Olympus M.Zuiko ED 75-300mm 1:4.8-6.7 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm F2.8 Macro Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm F4 IS Pro +1 more
I2K4
I2K4 Senior Member • Posts: 1,109
Re: Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

Withdrawn.

 I2K4's gear list:I2K4's gear list
Canon PowerShot S5 IS Canon PowerShot SX10 IS Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS +2 more
Bradrobb
Bradrobb Senior Member • Posts: 1,045
Re: Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

Hi

You can read my blog post for my solution.

Backup on the road

Brad

-- hide signature --

I go through life shooting Snap Shots.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/bradrobb/
1.8 Million Views on Flickr

 Bradrobb's gear list:Bradrobb's gear list
Sony RX100 Sony Alpha NEX-3 Sony a5000 Sony Alpha DSLR-A200 Sony a6000 +9 more
Bogmonster Forum Member • Posts: 74
Re: Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

Hi,

1st post by me on this form. I am having the same issue using a Panasonic LX100. I don't have any cards less than 64GB so maybe need to try with a 32GB card. I have tried with a Pixel 2 XL with USB OTG and a Lenovo tab 3 pro with USB OTB. I have just bought (and still waiting for) a Sony RX10 iv so may have the same issue there.

The LX100 has WIFI and an app, but the app does not support RAW...I can't find the propriety USB lead for the LX100 but I believe that won't work anyway.

My Lenovo tab has a 256GB SD card formatted as inner storage so it would be a good backup option if only I could get the raw files into it.

The WD passport is a bit expensive for me

There is this new device:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/RAVPower-Wireless-Portable-Transmission-External-Black/dp/B07MZT543W/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_3?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1549721034&sr=1-3-fkmr0&keywords=ravpower+file+store

which supports backup from SD to USB device without a phone required. However, the only reviews have seen say it sucks. Anybody tried it?

It looks to be the best option I can find so far as long as it supports the correct SD card format. Ideally it would just sync the new files found on the SD card say each evening rather than try and copy the whole lot again - could be very slow otherwise. No idea if it actually does that?

This all appears to be a crazy issue in this day and age...I would expect technology just to work together.

BM

Bogmonster Forum Member • Posts: 74
Re: Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

Hi,

My previous post is still being moderated as I am new here. After much searching I may have a solution for you - possibly. It depends on what format your Sony SD cards are in - I did a quick look and I think they support exFAT.  I have just got the cards formatted in my Panasonic LX100 to read in Android, both Lenovo Tab3 Pro and Pixel 2 XL. The LX100 cards are exFAT as well.

I used a paid Android app, MiXplorer - £3.99. In settings in the app you need need to select to use the custom USB OTG driver. I used the USB OTG adaptor that came with the Pixel and a card reader.

The app looks very powerful and I think it has an optional plugin to decode JPEGs from RAW as well, no idea if it supports Sony but it did work for Panasonic RAW.

Might want to give it a try, if it does not work I expect you can get your money back trough the app store.

Lightroom Mobile opens the RAW files fine on my tablet.

One other thing I did try that did not work (and would have been a poor solution anyway) was to format the 128GB card to FAT32 using a Windows tool that would allow this. Card was not recognised in my camera. It is also not a very suitable filesystem with a 4GB file size limit and no journalling.

BM

Bogmonster Forum Member • Posts: 74
Re: Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

Hi again,

My posts are still in the sandbox and waiting for moderation. Looks like moderation is slow over the weekend. Have tried some more testing. I used an Anker USB 3 hub I had kicking around connected through the USB OTB dongle. Copying from SD card reader straight to a USB stick also works fine. I am sure you could also backup to a HDD if you could power the HDD separately fro the phone and the HDD was exFAT format. There are cables and powered hubs that allow this I think. I think this method of copying to another USB device might be quicker than copying onto the Android device first and then back onto a drive or stick if all you want to do is backup.

My phone does not have enough power through USB C to power the HDDs I have and I don't have a suitable powered hub or cable to test with at the moment.

Another thing MiXplorer does is allow you to sync from one folder into another. If you try to copy the whole folder into a location where that folder already exists, you get the option of skipping files with the same name, duplication with a modified name or overwrite. By skipping you can quickly'ish just copy over the newly added files from your camera.

The main issue with all of the above is that USB OTG is quite slow on most phones and apparently particularly slow on my Google Pixel. It could take a long time to copy over a days shooting each night. It would be good if MiXplore gave some stats like speed of copying, elapsed time etc. Unfortunately it does not. Might be worth adding these as suggestions to the dev team?

The Rav Power thing I mentioned above apparently isn't particularly fast either

I am now looking for a better USB C OTG hub with an SD card reader built in that I can preferably charge my phone at the same time with. There are lots of items but details a very sketchy about what they actually support and the reviews are very mixed. Also, I think to charge the Android device at the same time the Android device needs to support the 'Power Delivery' standard, my phone does, my tablet does not.

BM

DickyAus Veteran Member • Posts: 3,102
Re: Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

Hi BM welcome to DPReview.

I've not used Google Pixel so I can't help much with that. My Samsung A5 doesn't need an App to do the copy, The native Android system will do it OK and shows progress. I create a folder for each day's shoot and copy DCIM to that. (Swipe down the top bar and I can see the copy process). Copying 30GB (twice) does take a while but I just set it running while I cook dinner.

I never take the laptop when going far off the beaten track - takes up too much space.

I have thought of looking for a powered hub so I can use my high capacity portable HDs without draining the phone battery but haven't seen anything that fits the bill. My current solution is to take a bag of 64GB USB sticks that take up very little space and don't put all my eggs in one basket. If I were to get close to my storage capacity I would simply stop recording RAW and save only Jpeg.

Dicky.

 DickyAus's gear list:DickyAus's gear list
Olympus E-M1 Olympus E-M1 II Olympus M.Zuiko ED 75-300mm 1:4.8-6.7 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm F2.8 Macro Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm F4 IS Pro +1 more
Ken Gosden Senior Member • Posts: 2,888
Re: Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

DickyAus wrote:

Hi BM welcome to DPReview.

I've not used Google Pixel so I can't help much with that. My Samsung A5 doesn't need an App to do the copy, The native Android system will do it OK and shows progress. I create a folder for each day's shoot and copy DCIM to that. (Swipe down the top bar and I can see the copy process). Copying 30GB (twice) does take a while but I just set it running while I cook dinner.

I never take the laptop when going far off the beaten track - takes up too much space.

I have thought of looking for a powered hub so I can use my high capacity portable HDs without draining the phone battery but haven't seen anything that fits the bill. My current solution is to take a bag of 64GB USB sticks that take up very little space and don't put all my eggs in one basket. If I were to get close to my storage capacity I would simply stop recording RAW and save only Jpeg.

Dicky.

No Google devices have ever included native OTG support.

 Ken Gosden's gear list:Ken Gosden's gear list
Olympus XZ-2 iHS Olympus Tough TG-3 Canon G5 X II Olympus E-M1 Olympus E-M1 II +19 more
Bogmonster Forum Member • Posts: 74
Re: Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

Hi,

I like my Google Pixel 2 XL. The camera is OK and general OTG works fine. Apparently Samsung has the advantage on formats supported OTG. It appears Pixel does not support exFAT that a lot of cameras use. Fat32 works fine OTG on the Pixel. It appears the Pixel has some quirks around Power Delivery. I won't be changing it for 12 months as I am in contract so I will have to think about future options when the time comes. The best thing about the Pixel is lots of Android updates.

My next major holiday is an Africa Safari with 9 nights of camping. Being able to backup photos each night is desirable if I can charge everything enough. I might use 64GB cards, take a big powerbank and hope to top up charge with an invertor that is on our vehicle.

BM

DickyAus Veteran Member • Posts: 3,102
Re: Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

Bogmonster wrote:

Hi,

I like my Google Pixel 2 XL. The camera is OK and general OTG works fine. Apparently Samsung has the advantage on formats supported OTG. It appears Pixel does not support exFAT that a lot of cameras use. Fat32 works fine OTG on the Pixel. It appears the Pixel has some quirks around Power Delivery. I won't be changing it for 12 months as I am in contract so I will have to think about future options when the time comes. The best thing about the Pixel is lots of Android updates.

My next major holiday is an Africa Safari with 9 nights of camping. Being able to backup photos each night is desirable if I can charge everything enough. I might use 64GB cards, take a big powerbank and hope to top up charge with an invertor that is on our vehicle.

BM

Sounds like it will be a great trip - enjoy.

I have also got a USB charger for my camera batteries; makes it easy to charge in vehicle together with a USB cigar lighter adapter that can supply 2A. Cheap as chips from China - and it works.

 DickyAus's gear list:DickyAus's gear list
Olympus E-M1 Olympus E-M1 II Olympus M.Zuiko ED 75-300mm 1:4.8-6.7 II Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 60mm F2.8 Macro Olympus M.Zuiko 300mm F4 IS Pro +1 more
gooselee New Member • Posts: 4
Re: Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

I like to travel very light so carrying a HDD or laptop (or even tablet) is something I try to avoid.

Last trip, I started moving photos from X-T10 to phone via camera wifi, and from there my phone would sync up to Google Photos anytime I had real wifi. Worked well...except I quickly ran out of storage space on my phone. Even with a 64GB microSD, I just had too much other music, files, etc. on there since I also use my phone for basically everything else while travelling.

New idea is an OTG SD card reader; plug that into the phone and get Google Photos to recognize the folder and sync directly from the SD card, without ever having to use phone storage. My thought is I could just plug that in every night to upload photos from the day, but still keep the original JPG/RAW files on the SD card as I go. Has anyone managed to do it this way before?

If it works, it means I can travel with just my camera, OTG dongle, phone, and a few SD cards.

I know the Google Sync won't be the best quality - thus retaining the originals on the SD card to actually download/backup/retouch once I get home. I'm really just looking for a way to have some basic backup in case the SD cards are lost/damaged during the trip so it's not a total loss.

I2K4
I2K4 Senior Member • Posts: 1,109
Re: Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

I see this turned into a long thread. I don't use Google photos, but assuming OTG support, was easily able to connect my (cheap eBay) card reader to the device microUSB port:

  • on insertion it's immediately recognized with a card from a Canon Powershot.
  • My file manager (X-plore by Lonely Cat, because I like dual pane layout, but others will do as well) asks for permission to access the new card reader storage, and the USB connected card reader then appears in the file manager.
  • I can then easily copy or move (deleting from Android device) any files or complete folders from the card reader (any format, including RAW/DNG) into the folder systems for any of the major cloud storage services (I use OneDrive and Mega, but Google Drive is there too) which are similarly visible and logged in under "Web Storage" in the file manager.
  • The only real limit while traveling would be fast enough / cheap enough broadband to make it practical for large transfers.

I don't know if Google's photo apps are any simpler or otherwise better than that.

 I2K4's gear list:I2K4's gear list
Canon PowerShot S5 IS Canon PowerShot SX10 IS Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS +2 more
gooselee New Member • Posts: 4
Re: Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

Thanks. I suppose I could always copy each day's photos to the phone, sync them up to cloud storage, and then remove files from my phone if storage space becomes and issue.

My hope is with overnight uploads each day or every other, the bandwidth issue can somewhat be mitigated.

I2K4
I2K4 Senior Member • Posts: 1,109
Re: Solution to backup SD cards using an Android phone in the field (no laptop)

On that basis you could also carry a thumb drive, or second SD card, and use the same OTG hook up to transfer camera card to phone then to the backup external, no wifi or data and quicker.

I quickly tried connecting a 1TB Western Digital portable, which is nicely recognized by OTG notification and folders viewed, but I only have USB 2.0 - seems not to have the power to let the file manager work with that large drive.  No such problem with ordinary thumb drives.

 I2K4's gear list:I2K4's gear list
Canon PowerShot S5 IS Canon PowerShot SX10 IS Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS +2 more
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum MMy threads