Cloud

How to back up photos and videos from an SD card on your Chromebook

If you do a lot of photo work and need to easily sync images and videos to your Google Drive account via your Chromebook, check out this tutorial.

chromedrivehero.jpg
Image: Jack Wallen

One of the main outstanding benefits of using a cloud device, such as a Chromebook, is knowing all of your work is automatically in sync with your Google Drive account. This syncing capability lends Chromebook users a level of security, knowing their data is always backed up.

A downside to many Chromebooks is the lack of local storage. It's an odd thing to be concerned about, given these are cloud-based devices, and yet plenty of time has been devoted to extolling the woes of minimal space.

The saving grace for many users is that most Chromebooks include an SD card expansion slot, so you can slap in a 256GB SD card and have some serious space to use. But can you sync photos and videos on your SD card to your Google Drive account? Why, yes, you can.

SEE: Best Chromebooks of 2017 (CNET)

How to sync photos and videos on your SD card to Google Drive

You have to trick Chrome OS into thinking there's something worth syncing on that card—in other words, that it contains photos and videos. At the time of this writing, the feature only works for photo and video files. But, when you're on the go and you need to do a quick dump of photos and videos from an SD card to Google Drive, this is the way to go. Here's how.

When you insert the SD card into your Chromebook, if the system discovers a folder named DCIM, it will automatically start scanning for images and videos. The SD card must have a folder named DCIM; if Chrome OS doesn't detect that particular folder, it will not scan the card. It is only within that DCIM folder that Chrome OS will scan for acceptable files.

The good news is that most DSLRs (and other camera types that use SD cards) automatically save images and videos into a folder named DCIM and will automatically create that folder. If your device doesn't automatically create a DCIM folder, you'll have to do that manually. The next trick would be ensuring that external device then saves files to that new folder (how/if you can do this will depend upon the device).

When you insert an SD card, open the Files app, navigate to the DCIM folder, and you'll see a new Cloud icon appear in the Files taskbar (Figure A).

Figure A

Figure A

Your SD card photos ready to sync.

Once Chrome OS successfully scans all the files within the DCIM folder, the photos and videos will automatically sync with your Google Drive account and can be found in your Google Photos folder. During the syncing, the cloud icon will change to a progress icon. If you click the Cloud icon drop-down (Figure B), it will display how many photos it is currently backing up.

Figure B

Figure B

Backup from the SD card in progress.

Google, allow more file types to be synced from an SD card

The ability to auto sync an SD card to your Google Drive account through Chrome OS has been around since 2015, and it hasn't expanded much since its release. Google needs to allow for other file types to be synced from the SD card (it makes perfect sense why Google would start with photos for the first iteration). As it is now, the feature is limiting. Even so, for those users that need to upload a lot of images from an external device (such as a DSLR), the ability to do so from a Chromebook makes life simpler.

I'd love to be able to auto sync any file type from an SD card on a Chromebook—that would make transferring work from one Google account to another (or from device to device) much easier. Pop in a coworker's SD card, open Files, and let Chrome OS do its thing.

Make this happen, Google.

Also see

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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