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Many people use their smartphone as photo camera. Most of the time they also watch the photos on their smartphone. The photos become precious memories and they might be in danger! The problem starts when the phone is lost or stolen or when the phone malfunctions and has to be reset to factory default. The photos are lost. This happens with my wife’s phone.

For some time I was looking for a solution that works smoothly in the background without the necessity of user interaction. This is the only way to have a sufficient WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor). The solution was all the time there without being noticed: Synology CloudStation!

The idea of CloudStation is to synchronize files between the DiskStation and a mobile device. Normally you would create an empty folder on your mobile device to store the synchronized files from your DiskStation. In this case you don’t create a folder on your local device to store the files to be synchronized, but you use the existing folder that contains your photos on your device an synchronize this with an initially empty folder on the DiskStation. You have to find to where on your device the photos are stored.

This post describes the steps to synchronize the photos from an Android device to a specific folder on the DiskStation. The idea is the same for other devices with a CloudStation client, specific actions may differ.

Preparation

Before you can start you have to have a working CloudStation in place on your DiskStation. You also need to support the ‘user home service‘. This can be activated in the Advanced Tab of the User Control Panel. The installation of the CloudStation service o the DiskStation is straight forward. Just install it from the Package Center and allow given users to use CloudStation. This can be done in the Privileges section of the CloudStation on the console of your DiskStation. You are now ready to use CloudStation.

The next thing to do is to create a shared folder where the user can have read/write access. This share can be considered as a group folder for a workgroup of users where they can share data. In this example the shared folder will be named Data.

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In data you create a subfolder and a destination folder that can be used to synchronize the photos to. In this example the subfolder is named shared and the destination folder is named mobilephoto. If you have multiple device or multipe users to facilitate, you can change the names of the subfolder and destination folder accordingly. (Select the right filder in the CloudStation client on your smartphone.) The access to the folder of a specific user can be set on the users own destination folder. As long as it is for the legitimate user read/write. In this example the structure is straight forward: Data/shared/mobilephoto.

The next thing to do on your DiskStation is to make the Data shared folder sharable in CloudStation. Open CloudStation on your DiskStations console and select the Sharing section.

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Tick the Enabled box after the name of the Data shared folder and click the Save button. In the Privileges section above Sharing (No image) you have to enable the user(s) that is (are) allowed to use CloudStation. Enable the users you would like to facilitate. Your DiskStation is now ready to be used to synchronize the photos of your smartphone. You can close the DiskStations desktop.

Configure smartphone

Now it is time to make your smartphone (or tablet) capable of using the CloudStation of your DiskStation. Install DS Cloud from the store of your device if you haven’t already. Start DS Cloud and login to your CloudStation with a DiskStation account. If you have configured other folders to synchronize before then click the + in the upper right corner and select the DiskStation you want to use:

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If you selected the DiskStation with the CloudStation services or you just started using CloudStation, you have to select the (empty) folder on the DiskStation. You do this by clicking in the names of the folders to open them and by checking the checkbox to select the folder:

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In this example, you have to drill down through Data/shared and checking the checkbox in front of mobilephoto. Click Next to continue.

Now you have to select the local folder on your device to synchronize. This will be the existing folder where your device stores the photos you have taken. In this example that folder will be sdcard0/DCIM. (DCIM is more or less a default name of a photo folder on your device. Most probably stored on an sd card when available. Find the DCIM folder on your sd card in your smartphone and the odds are good that you selected the right folder. When your smartphone isn’t storing the photos on your sd card then this is a good moment to tell your camera to do so.)

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Select the DCIM folder in the sdcard0 folder and click Next.

There are some options to set:

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Make sure you select the Sync subfolders options. Your camera will make subfolders in the DCIM folder. Click OK to confirm the settings. You will return to the main screen of the CloudStation client:

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A new synchronization pair has been configured under the name of DCIM. (Name might vary.) Now your smartphone is synchronizing its photos to your DiskStation.

Other considerations

Now the pictures from your smartphone also reside on your DiskStation, it is a good moment to consider if and how to include this in your back-up strategy. After all synchronizing implies that when the pictures are removed from one end, they also will be removed from the other end. By backing up the (in this example) shared folder and its subfolders, you always have the photos on a save location.

By default CloudStation only synchronizes when you have a Wi-Fi connection. The easiest is the Wi-Fi connection at home on your local network. When you connect CloudStation via your internal network to your DiskStation, then the synchronization only takes place when you are at home. You might want to synchronize to when you are not at home. Then you have to connect with QuickConnect. This is a Synology services free of charge for Synology DiskStation owners. Please read this to understand what QuickConnect is and what it can do for you.