Originally published at: http://www.howtogeek.com/192732/android-usb-connections-explained-mtp-ptp-and-usb-mass-storage/
Older Android devices support USB mass storage for transferring files back and forth with a computer. Modern Android devices use the MTP or PTP protocols — you can choose which one you prefer.
MTP is fine for transfering files. Sadly it is not quite as fine for tasks such as creating incremental backups. Windows doesn't map MTP devices to a drive letter, hence not all software supports MTP devices.
Alternative solutions that would allow mapping to a drive don't work well either. An FTP server installed on the Android phone cannot be mounted permanently, as the IP address willl change on your typical wifi. An SMB server will not work on unrootet phones, because the port for SMB is hardcoded in Windows and Android needs root permissions to create a server on that port and I have yet to see a method that would work with a cable.
So while I perfectly understand the reasoning for switching to MTP, especially for devices without SD-card slot, the switch does create its own set of problems.
That said, once having accustomed myself to the new situation I haven't actually missed Usb Mass Storage.
Because of this hard split, you might end up with too little space for apps and too much space for data, or too little space for apps and too much space for data. You might end up with too little space for apps and too much space for data, or too much space for apps and too little space for your data. You couldn’t resize these partitions without rooting your device — the manufacturer chose the appropriate amount for each partition at the factory.
Did this paragraph really just happen?
Good explanation of why the change from mass storage to MTP or PTP was necessary, but I have never been happy since it happened.
With mass storage, I could connect my phone to my laptop and while charging the phone I could easily and quickly copy things to and from the phone and run incremental backups. Since MTP, some things aren't possible any more (like my backups) or much slower (like copying files). And now when I copy a file the creation date and time magically change to when it is copied, not when it was originally created - very annoying with photos and videos.
I do most things over WiFi now and use services like Dropbox to get around changing file creation dates, but it is still much slower and more complicated than before. This would be less of a problem if I could remove my microSD card, but unfortunately I can't with my current phone.
Progress is not always easy.
Interesting question related to MTP:
Anyway, MTP was probably simply chosen because it is already widely
supported. You can thus access the Phone on a Computer where you don't have
the permissions to install a new driver.
A better solution might be to provide an FTP server over USB; MTP for the
mainstream, FTP for those who know at least how to mount ftp as a drive.
The problem would still be how to map the USB connection to a network
connection though. It would likely at least require a new driver. It would
help a lot in other situations too though, e.g. when you are at an
institution whose wifi allows only one device per user.
MTP isn't always so reliable, at least on Windows - recently we went on a trip, and realized the photos were scattered across a Galaxy S4 and an HTC One V. The One V was easy; connect in mass storage mode, copy, paste. The S4 wouldn't let me see the contents of the DCIM folder. When it did, it wouldn't let me copy. In the end, I had to enable USB debugging on the S4 and pull the files via adb.
Exactly the reason why I don't like this MTP invention. Using the Nokia 5800 XM since 2010 and I've always noticed, that, connecting my phone in Mass Storage mode, makes work on the PC so much more quicker and easier, as the file system behaves exactly like normal Windows does. Whereas in the Media Transfer Protocol, it's so limited to what just the Dev (Nokia in this case) offers.
Hate this same problem with Canon cameras too. When you connect them, they are not assigned a drive, and you have to stumble through the poor and slow Canon interface.
There is at least one exception to the 'modern Android devices not supporting USB Mass Storage': the last Jelly Bean update (4.1.2) to the Samsung Galaxy Note (GT-N7000) still maintains support for UMS. I regret selling my Note because of this. I am guessing that other Galaxy models which originally came with UMS still had this available up to Jelly Bean.
The way I've seen MTP implemented is crap as it has not permitted preserving modification dates on files copied.
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