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Re: How can I get a drive letter in Windows
Thank you to the other posters here for helping me tremendously with this missing drive letter flaw in the newer Android phones. If I had a choice, I would have chosen a phone with an SD card slot. Unfortunately, my company chose the phone, so I'm stuck trying to counteract this exasperating lack of drive letter and finding ways to restore my old folder-synchronization system, which served me well for more than 20 years (ever since DOS Xcopy came out). I followed your tips and took extensive notes of the snags that I ran into, so that others may benefit from what I learned. I typed everything up ahead of time, so I could just copy and paste it all into one coherent (but admittedly-gigantic) post.
I can't stand the iTunes concept, and increasingly the Google Android concept, of "l'm your wise old papa, let me take care of your data for you!" I want to always have full and unrelenting control over my data. Call me a control freak – call me what you will – but I don't feel comfortable ceding even more power to corporate behemoths than I already have. Even programs that would probably be helpful for some people (Evernote, Go Launcher, Android Transfer, FolderSync Lite, Wondershare MobileGo, and so on), seem like too many layers of complexity to me. Where is my data? Just let me have my pure, unhidden data and leave me alone, for Pete's sake. Let me at least pretend to be in control of my destiny! If I want to spelunk down 9 levels of folders to access one file, am I evil?
Everything that I do is data-oriented. I never, ever open a program and then find my files. I find my files, and then open them. Sometimes I open the same file with multiple programs simultaneously, each program for its unique strength. Why are the Android developers trying to make me work the other way around - that is, to focus on the apps instead of my data? I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling this way.
Like some of you, I have a core set of files that I try to take with me on my phone wherever I go, completely separate from my music, podcasts, and entertainment. My core set consists of:
- An encypted ZIP file containing an encrypted TrueCrypt document containing all of my banking and financial passwords and safe combinations,
- Another encrypted ZIP file containing all of my website logins and passwords,
- Files from my work laptop that belong on my home laptop, and vice versa,
- My favorite photos of my family, friends, and girlfriends,
- Registration and serial numbers for my software,
- Screenshots of bill payments (captured using the awesome utility Gadwin Printscreen),
- My To Do lists for short-term tasks and long-term goals – mostly text files that I can update directly on my phone using Polaris Office,
- My contacts in assorted VCF files (someday I suppose I'll consolidate all of them into one master CSV file that any app can import),
- Works-in-progress documents for areas of intense interest, such as genealogy research,
- My ISP email and webmail server settings, logins, and passwords,
- LibreOffice word processing and spreadsheet templates, formatted "just right" (A4, Arial 10, with 25 mm borders and 10 mm tabs, portrait for ODT and landscape for ODS).
- FTP and HTTP shortcut links to the sdcard folder on my phone,
- Photos of all of my tools, assets, and material possessions, for insurance purposes,
- My essential insurance data, phone numbers to contact my family, and copies of my ID cards in case something unfortunate happens to me when I'm traveling overseas,
- JPEG screenshot of my handwritten signature,
- My Will and Last Testament, living will, and other preparations for death.
Side note: Yes, I know, I probably should encrypt all of this, not just the financial stuff and website passwords, but the phone itself is already encrypted and PIN-protected, so I feel pretty safe. If the phone is lost or stolen, I can call my company's IT department and wipe the phone's data remotely.
I used to run batch files that would synchronize this folder on my BlackBerry phone with a folder on each of my laptop computers, using the Robocopy command. The command looked like this:
Robocopy "[source path]" "[destination path]" /E /XO /MON:1 /RH:0001-2356
I also used a file and folder synchronization program called Araxis Merge, that would keep two folders identical and would copy over the newest version of any changed file. Everything was working great, for years, until Android MTP came along and turned it all upside-down.
With the unified memory architecture of the newer Android phones lacking an external SD card slot, my Robocopy batch files no longer work. Araxis Merge can't even see my phone. There is no longer any way to run these or any other PC program that requires a drive letter, without employing roundabout ways to create the drive letter again.
The combination that worked best for me to create a drive letter for the phone on my PC was Andreas Liebig's FTPServer app on the phone, used with NetDrive on the PC. (If FTPServer causes trouble for you, try EF File Explorer's Remote Manager option instead. If NetDrive causes trouble, try FTPUse, or try one of the HTTP-based webdav apps on the phone, instead.) Here are some tips for using FTPServer with NetDrive:
FTPServer must be running first, before you open NetDrive. You don't need an external router or ethernet switch to use FTPServer. All you need is your Android phone, your laptop PC, the phone's WiFi hotspot turned on, and FTPServer's Tethering feature turned on in its settings. Enter in your desired username, password, and port in FTPServer's settings. Then go to your PC, open any folder, click in the address bar to blank out what is there, and type ftp: // [your Android hotspot IP address and port number for FTP – these are displayed in the FTPServer window on your phone]. You should see a login window pop up. Enter your username and password, and you will see your phone's internal sdcard folder.
You can also create a shortcut (Right-click on your Desktop – New – Shortcut) and enter the username and password directly into the shortcut so you don't have to keep entering them in. Just be aware that this will allow anyone to see your password in plain text, or to double-click on the shortcut and see your files if FTPServer is running. The format is like this:
ftp : // username : password (at sign) 192. 168. 43. 1 : 5909 / folderpath
^ Change the username, password, IP address, port, and path to match your particular setup.
^ Remove the spaces and change (at sign) to the actual "at sign". (AndroidCentral kept hassling me, something about needing 10 posts to include links.)
Using FTPServer alone, without NetDrive, I could copy folders and files on the phone and laptop PC, but the paste button was grayed out. (Why would Windows let you copy without letting you paste? This seems like a cruel tease.) Apparently, from what I've read, this has to do with inherent limitations in FTP, which is quite an ancient protocol in computing terms, invented way back in 1971. NetDrive allows you to sidestep these limitations and have full copy-and-paste functionality in a Windows Explorer-type interface, or within file synchronization software.
Once you have FTPServer running and you can access your phone's internal sdcard folder using FTP, run NetDrive. When I first tried to run NetDrive, nothing happened, no hourglass or spinning icon, not even an error message. The trick, I learned, was to right-click and Run as Administrator.
Within NetDrive, scroll down to FTP and click on the gear icon. Select FTP, Mount as a Network Drive, Name [type something descriptive], URL something like ftp: // 192. 168. 43. 1: 5909 (change the IP address and port to match your FTPServer settings). You will notice that the port automatically changes in the URL field when you change the Port field. For User and Password, copy the settings from FTPServer on your phone.
On my phone (LG G2), using FTPServer, to point directly to my internal sdcard folder, I used the URL ftp: // 192. 168. 43. 1: 5909 /storage /emulated /0. On the other hand, when I used ES File Explorer with the Remote Manager option turned on, I took the storage/emulated/0 part out of the URL, because Remote Manager defaults to the sdcard directory anyway.
Be careful to match the case and path exactly. When I first used FTPServer, I typed Storage/ Emulated/ 0 and that didn't work. Everything had to be in lowercase. The path to the internal sdcard folder on your phone may not be storage/ emulated/ 0, either, depending on your phone and which version of Android you're running.
After you finish entering the proper settings into NetDrive, hit the Connect button. NetDrive will assign the next drive letter to the FTP location. For me, this was F. I don't know how to change this to G or anything past F. If you've never seen your phone's internal memory with a drive letter before, this will feel like a great accomplishment. I was jumping with joy to finally see the F in Windows Explorer, after months of only seeing something like "MTP device".
I opened the F drive, and tested out copying, deleting, moving, and creating files between the phone and the laptop PC. I was able to do so without any error messages. Next, I tested Araxis Merge, which uses the concept of inserted, removed, and changed files. Inserted files are those on the destination, but not on the source. Removed files are on the source, but not on the destination. Changed files are those that exist in both folders, but are not identical. I was able to copy inserted and removed files between the two folders, but changed files had strange results. A changed file copied from the remote folder (the sdcard folder on the phone) to the local folder (the folder on my laptop PC) copied fine eventually, but often with a long delay or with an initial error message. After acknowledging the error message, the copying resumed and seemed to complete without trouble.
There were, however, two time stamp-related issues. Firstly, when I copied from the local folder (PC) to the remote folder (internal sdcard on the phone), each of the files still showed exactly 1 change - that one change was the time stamp of each file not matching between the two folders. The files are otherwise identical between the two folders. Interestingly, if I copy in the other direction, from remote to local (that is, from the phone to the PC), all of the files show 0 changes after the copying and are 100% identical.
Secondly, and a much more serious problem, is that files created or modified on my phone are always exactly 4 hours behind the files on the laptop PC. The real time in my time zone right now is 17:29 (about 5:30 pm). The time on my phone also shows 17:29. Time and time zone are set automatically. (Click on Android gear icon - System - Date and Time - Automatic date & time, and Automatic time zone, are both checked.) FTPServer log entries are reporting 17:29, 17:30, 17:31. They are also correct times. If I copy a newly-created file from the phone to the PC, the time stamp is preserved at 4 hours behind. In other words, 13:30 (which is wrong) stays 13:30 (which is still wrong, but at least it is consistent). However, if I copy a newly-created file from the PC to the phone, the time loses 4 hours! In other words, 17:32 becomes 13:32. I tried changing to 24-hour format and changing the the date format, but there is no difference in time stamps. Only the time displayed at the top of my home screen changes, from 5:32 to 17:32.
Because of these two time-stamp issues, I'm going to have to be careful when using Araxis Merge, SyncBack Pro, Robocopy, Vice Versa Pro, or any other file synchronization utility.
I tested out SyncBack Pro and was able to synchronize inserted, removed, and changed files just as easily as with Araxis Merge. I like how SyncBack Pro presents you with more details so that you're absolutely sure what is happening to your files – it is almost foolproof. Araxis Merge is not geared exclusively for file and folder synchronization, so you just have to know what you're doing and proceed fearlessly. You could easily wipe out your entire backup if you're not concentrating. I prefer how Araxis Merge shows all of your files and folders with color-coding. I always customize mine so that bright red represents removed, green inserted, and light blue changed, so that it is near-foolproof.
ES File Explorer's Remote Manager is an alternative to FTPServer. I opened ES File Explorer, turned on Remote Manager, opened NetDrive, and tried manipulating files and folders on the phone and on my laptop PC. I could copy, move, and delete files between the phone and the laptop. However, on the phone, I could only create folders. If I wanted to put a text file on the phone, I had to create it on the PC first, and then move it to the phone.
Remote Manager with NetDrive also had the same issues with Araxis Merge as FTPServer with NetDrive did. I could copy inserted and removed files between the phone and PC, but changed files acted strange, always showing exactly one change (the time stamp), unless I copied all of them from the phone to the PC. This was the only way that I could make all of the files identical.
I tried two webdav tools, DavDrive and BestDAV. At first, I couldn't access my phone using either one of them. Looking online, I saw one possible solution was to change this registry value from 1 to 2:
[ HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\ SYSTEM\ CurrentControlSet\ services\ WebClient\ Parameters ]
This didn't help. I still couldn't access my phone using either webdav app.
Side note: If you ever need to merge a registry file into your registry, there are two types. The older type starts with REGEDIT4 and is encoded in ANSI. The newer type starts with Registry Editor Version 5.00 and is encoded in Unicode. If you have trouble merging, try simply changing the words at the top of the reg file, to change how Windows sees the file, or try changing the encoding when you save the file.
Reading some more articles online, I saw another possible solution. Windows needs the WebClient service to use webdav. Go into the Services Control Panel (Start - Run - services.msc), Start the WebClient service, and set it for Automatic. For me, this did the trick. I could now access the internal sdcard folder on my phone using both of the webdav apps.
Between the two apps, DavDrive is the simpler one. I opened DavDrive on the phone, opened Windows Explorer on my PC, and typed in the address displayed in DavDrive. Explorer opened my internal sdcard in FTP list view, which isn't too helpful. There's no right-click copying and pasting functionality. When I tried to map the network drive (Open any folder in Windows Explorer, click on Tools, select Map network drive), there was no login window. I checkboxed "Connect using different credentials", and then, the login window popped up, but didn't work. Every time I entered in my username and password, I kept returning to the login dialog with the username and password blanked out again. No matter what I tried, I wasn't able to access my phone's internal sdcard as a mapped network drive using DavDrive.
BestDAV also creates an FTP list view. I was able to login after putting the checkmark in "Connect using different credentials", and was able to map the network drive as the default, Z. (You don't need to use Z. You can choose any free letter when you map a drive.) I could copy, move, and delete files and folders freely between the phone and the PC. However, I couldn't create any files on the phone, and when I tried to copy files from the phone to the PC, Windows displayed the annoying warning message, "These files might be harmful to your computer". (As soon as you acknowledge the terrifying message and click past, the copying proceeds just fine.) In Araxis Merge, copying from remote to local worked fine. Copying from local to remote took a long time and created an error message. The file seemed to copy over, but didn't appear in the remote folder until I hit F5 for refresh. When I tried to open the file, I saw, "A device attached to the system is not working" and the file appeared to be empty. Araxis Merge cannot be trusted with BestDAV. Furthermore, there are still the same problems with time stamps. When copying from local to remote, the files still each show 1 change, because the time stamps don't match. Copying from remote to local, the timestamps finally change and Araxis Merge shows 0 changes. None of this matters, because the time stamps on the phone are exactly 4 hours off. My files are not safe – I could modify a file on my phone, but the computer will still think that the PC version is newer, unless I wait at least 4 hours before I touch the PC.
Just when I started experimenting with BestDAV for FileSync Pro, the BestDAV app told me that I had exceeded the maximum daily limit for file transfers (grrrr!). I will try again another day to see if FileSync Pro works well with BestDAV.
Finally, I tried Total Commander and Filezilla. The first is more of a file manager, and the second is more for FTP, but they seem to overlap in what they can do. They both have a similar two-pane interface and look powerful. I was able to create an FTP shortcut to my internal sdcard folder within each program. Can you use these programs for file and folder syncronization? If you can, the methods elude me. Both of their interfaces are a little too complex at first glance, but slowly growing on me. I liked the synchronized browsing feature. I will probably use these programs again.