Sync Your Android Tablet with Your PC
If you’ve purchased an Android tablet, you’ve probably wondered how to fill it with your favorite music, videos, and photos. Unlike an iPad, which slurps up these goodies by syncing with iTunes, an Android tablet has no desktop counterpart, no automated system for migrating media from your hard drive to your device.
Granted, you can download movies from Google Play or stream tunes from Google Music, but what about all the ripped CDs stored on your computer? And the home movies and family photos? Heck, you probably have an address book you wouldn’t mind syncing with your tablet.
A handful of tablets come with desktop software that can sync your media, but most models will require a little third-party intervention. Let’s look at three ways to bridge the gap between your PC and your tablet.
“iTunes for Android”
There may be no official iTunes for Android, but DoubleTwist is the next best thing. This free media manager can sync your music, photos, and videos with your tablet. Even better, it can import all these items, plus playlists and ratings, from iTunes. That’s a great perk for anyone who owns, say, an Android tablet and an iOS device.
To use the software with your tablet, you’ll need to install the free DoubleTwist Player app (available from the Google Play store). Connect the tablet to your PC, then use DoubleTwist’s decidedly iTunes-like interface to choose what media to sync.
Want to cut the cord? DoubleTwist’s $4.99 AirSync app lets you sync via Wi-Fi, no USB cable required. With or without it, this is arguably the single best way to move your desktop media to your tablet.
An assist from Dropbox
Dropbox is a popular cloud-based file-sharing service that lets you sync entire folders between your PC, the Web, and various devices.
DropSync rings two-way Dropbox syncing to your Android tablet. That means any media-filled folders on your desktop can be synced with your tablet, and vice-versa. (The official Dropbox app doesn’t support two-way syncing.) And it all happens wirelessly, automatically, and in the background.
So, for example, if you designate your MP3 folder as a sync folder, all your songs will eventually land on your tablet. And if you buy and download new music on your tablet, it’ll immediately get copied back to your desktop library. Likewise, any photos you snap with your tablet can get synced with your PC.
Dropbox isn’t free, but DropSync is. The latter is a must-have for sync-minded subscribers to the former.
Streaming instead of syncing
There’s another way to “sync” your tablet, and that’s to go the streaming route: Instead of trying to squeeze all your media onto your tablet, you can stream songs, videos, and the like from your PC or network drive.
This offers a couple key advantages. First, it makes your media library available on-demand, instead of requiring you to copy dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of files. Second, it provides access to a lot more stuff than you’d be able to cram onto a memory card —and leaves that card free for other goodies like apps and e-books.
The downside is that your tablet needs an Internet connection (preferably via Wi-Fi) to pull all that content from your PC. Thus, there may be times (like on an airplane) when your media isn’t accessible.
When you do connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots to stream media, make sure you don’t connect your tablet to any unknown or suspicious Wi-Fi networks. Doing so could compromise your data and leave you open to mobile malware.
If you’re connecting to your home network, make sure your router is configured with WPA2-level security so that only authorized devices (like your tablet) can connect. Otherwise you run the risk of neighbors or even passers-by gaining access to your data—regardless of where it’s stored.
Likewise, be sure to outfit both your tablet and your PCs with security software. Android devices have been particularly hard hit by malware, and even if yours doesn’t get infected directly, any malware your unprotected PC picks up could be transferred to your tablet during syncing.
Whatever syncing solution you choose, you’ll have a lot more fun with your tablet once it’s filled with all your favorite songs, photos, and videos.