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  • 2 Post By TheRealOrder66
  1. Thread Author  Thread Author    #1  

    Default Accessing Android as Mass Storage Device

    I have read innumerable discussions in myriad locations and have seen nothing resembling a satisfactory answer, so I am posting this here. If you have a direct link to a resolution that I, somehow, could not find, I would very much appreciate it.

    Executive Summary: I want to unlock my phone via the complex password I have set to do so at the Phone Unlock screen, which was a prerequisite to encrypting my Internal storage and, also, my External 64GB micro SD card. From there, I want to plug in a USB cable into my phone and a computer on my home Windows (Active Directory) network and copy files to and from it without a hassle. I want to map a drive letter to the device - not have it viewed as and treated like a "Portable Media Player". I do not want to be hassled when copying files of various types back and forth. If I dump a .TXT file in my "Documents" folder that I wish to synchronize, I really don't need some ignorant screen pop asking me if I REALLY want to copy that file because my device may or may not know what to do with it. That's all I want.

    Rants via verbosity:

    By all accounts, this was entirely possible in earlier versions of Android. I accomplished this with my Blackberry Curve without an issue for years...a reliable phone I had to dump because TPTB at my place of employment "upgraded" me. I was given a choice of any Apple or Android device I wanted and I was told to select Android because Apple devices are "too locked down". The telecomm manager knows me and my personality and preferences and knows I don't like being constricted by do-gooder developers (I don't care what you add to something as long as you give me the option to turn it OFF) and overbearing device/content controls. So I picked a Samsung Galaxy S4 device that is, at this time, listed as being Android Version 4.4.2. I can still bail and get an iPhone. If that turns out to be the answer, then, groovy.

    When reading these sorts of threads, I am utterly disgusted by the "Why would you want to do that?" questions that end up taking the discussion off the rails. "Because I want to" is sufficient enough of an answer. I don't want to FTP my files all over creation (and lose my file date/timestamps). I don't want to use the Google Cloud. I was tweaked enough that I had to create a Gmail account to use this phone and, further, infuriated that it created some sort of para-Facebook page along the way without me ever asking for one (upon which I, first, disabled every function I could and, then, deleted it). The first thing I did with my phone, when I received it, was uninstall everything that was not deemed "critical" to the operation of the device. Item-by-item...researching along the way. Everything. To give you an idea, I gladly paid $4 (or whatever) for an AccuWeather app that allows me to enter a ZipCode for the weather information I want instead of using the default/free one that, apparently, requires my "Location Data" (I turned off those services, too) to tell me what it is like outside. I travel to Tokyo and, guess what, I'm fine with either knowing how my family's weather is, at home, or manually adding Tokyo to my configuration.

    At one point, I must have re-enabled some Google nonsense (I think it happened automatically after a series of updates) and it, without so much as a prompt, sorted my pictures (which I had migrated from my Blackberry) by facial recognition and synched them to the Google Cloud. I didn't ask for my daughter's face to be added to a database. Further, I didn't ask for "cloud" space and did even know I had it. I immediately got in touch with said cloud and deleted all of my content from it. I was disappointed to find that I got 15GB for free...with no option for 0GB. Because I could not turn it off and did not want that nonsense to happen again in the future, I took 30 minutes and created 16GB of 1MB ultra-compressed encrypted files containing utter garbage and, then, uploaded them to that cloud space. It is now full and I will not be paying for the next level of storage. Good luck "auto-synching" ever again. Problem solved.

    So, that's where I'm at. To put it mildly, I do data for a living. Over my career I have been subjected to all manner of Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, SAS70, and other deep, detailed, and involved audits and policies. I respect data more than your average bear and my own data more than almost anything. My house catches fire, my wife and I will grab the kids, the drive arrays, and, maybe, if there is time, the cats. I have taken great pleasure in watching enterprise "cloud" solutions falter time after time after time. "I'd love to perform that data integration between your HR databases and your cloud-based meeting scheduling system, but you've put your data in the hands of people who don't give a flying fork about you. They have no incentive to help you with any urgency. Congratulations. You have access to inferior data that is probably being farmed to bejesus on their side of the fence, but, um, hey, at least it is 'everywhere'." I've witnessed and participated in "cloud snapback". Cloud solutions are not the utopia some would suggest and do more to benefit the provider than the customer.

    So, my home LAN is my "cloud". I trust the dude who runs it implicitly. That is the place to which I wish to synchronize my content at will. I want to set up automated scripts and processes to handle these things. I want my wife to plug her phone into the USB port of her PC and, immediately and without user intervention, synchronize her stuff to MY very secure network. When we rocked the Blackberry devices, they were assigned drive letters and it was as simple as using some intelligence surrounding a series of targeted (Windows-based) ROBOCOPY.EXE and 7-zip commands. That is what I want. Again. Google seems intent on getting its hands on people's content - forcing third party involvement in data movement and I do not appreciate it in the least.

    I just spent a week with a Microsoft engineer - a real one in the development mix - and he was sullen over the whole "Windows 8" [lack of] Start Menu thing. He was upset they retreated (to a degree) with v8.1. I'm sure the fools (including the boss' wife) behind Microsoft Bob, also, were dejected. That's how things roll when you assume you know what your users want more than your users do and don't give the advanced ones among them respite from your meddling - the ability to turn that "extra" stuff OFF. Some people liked a dancing paper clip popping up and guessing what they were doing when they started typing in Microsoft Word. I immediately turned it off. Everyone is happy.

    What I would appreciate is any help you can give on this matter. Yes. I know. I am refusing to play nice with Google. You want to have that discussion instead of focusing on this issue? That's fine. We can do that. I much prefer, though, since I've already preempted such debate with my clearly stated positions on the matter, to just cut to the chase and discuss how we can fix this...how we can accomplish what was so easily accomplished not so long ago.

    Thank you for your time.
    DebbieHeaney and sfrrr like this.
  2. #2  

    Default Re: Accessing Android as Mass Storage Device

    Sorry to say this, but that mode has been intentionally removed from Android for a couple of major revisions now. There is a way to bring it back, however, if you root your device and apply the proper hacks (or just modify the right lines in the right config files).

    I, like you, pretty much prefer the 'old', more compatible MSD Mode, but that's the way it is. Just like they decided that it was safer to deny full write access to SD Cards for 3rd party apps in KitKat, they decided that Mass Storage Mode was making things less efficient in they system so they scrapped it, if I recall correctly, in Jelly Bean (might have even been before that).
  3. #3  

    Default Re: Accessing Android as Mass Storage Device

    What Spook said. It's always frustrating when an update changes something you liked, but this isn't a simple matter of user interface: Google made that change for compelling reasons of speed, security, and flexibility, and removed the old functionality for the same reasons. I respect your bitterness, but the times they do change, and the longer you hold out, the more hassle you'll be obliged to undertake to make things the way you prefer. That's the price of principle.
  4. Thread Author  Thread Author    #4  

    Default Re: Accessing Android as Mass Storage Device

    Thank you for the helpful replies.

    Okay, so I am going to have to get medieval. That was not my first option. I wonder how well that will go along with a phone saddled with MobileIron/Divide security all over it. If I can't accomplish what I want with my, ahem, new "wide-open" Android device, I'll turn it back in and take the overtly locked down Apple product. I mean, if I'm going to be straightjacketed, let it be by the experts in doing such things.

    "the times they do change, and the longer you hold out"

    On one hand, yeah... On the other, I still bust the balls of the nitwit with whom I used to fight incessantly over the future of "thin clients". I'm pretty sure he was a major Lotus Notes (Solves everything!) advocate, too. Here we are 20 years later and that "inevitability" still has not happened. People still hate Citrix and whatnot. These pushes towards cloud reliance will be met with resistance and there will be a snap-back. Bank on it.

    Have a splendid day.
  5. #5  

    Default Re: Accessing Android as Mass Storage Device

    With as dedicated to security as you are, I'm surprised you didn't do due diligence and research the results of creating a Google account, the cloud storage feature should have been spelled out pretty clearly. By the way, a Google account isn't absolutely REQUIRED for using the device, but if you want to get apps from Google Play, you need one. There are 3rd-party app stores but getting paid apps from those is questionable.

    Your trick with the cloud space may not work. If the auto backup is configured right (or is it wrong?) the pictures don't count against it. If backing up full size pictures, they count against the 15 GB storage, reduced size don't so they'll still back up. That feature can be toggled off also (on my phone anyway).
  6. #6  

    Default Re: Accessing Android as Mass Storage Device

    To The RealOrder66--i just asked a similar, less knowledgeable form of your question in another thread. Right on!

    What i don't understand is how anyone can believe Google's claim that they've removed on-device expansion storage for security reasons.

    GT-I9500 running 4.3
  7. #7  

    Default Re: Accessing Android as Mass Storage Device

    I share the frustration and outrage of the original posting. I am especially incensed that Google (a champion of open source and user empowerment) would lock its own users out of a basic utilitarian feature; one that affords cross-platform access & simplicity.

    I have a Verizon GS4 with KK 4.4.2. No desire to root—Just need to access as a drive letter, so that I can use Win diagnostic software to find some very big PDF files that an app downloaded multiple times (it is occupies 15% of internal memory or SD card, not sure which).

    It is incredibly aggravating that I must root a phone or become an armchair developer simply to search my memory devices. Please Google: Don’t flip a middle digit to devoted fans. Rethink your restrictions. This is unlikely to relate to a true security concern. If it does, I am confident that your engineers can offer an emergency mode under carefully crafted conditions.

    Philip Raymond
    CRYPSA

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