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iPhone Camera Roll Does Not Sync

While transitioning from my old iPhone 3G to my shiny new iPhone 4, I ran into an issue where some of my photos weren’t transferred to my new phone. No matter what I did – fiddling with photo sync settings, resyncing both phones – I couldn’t get those photos synced.

After a bit of research, I discovered that strictly speaking, photos taken on your iPhone and stored in the Camera Roll aren’t synced with iTunes, except in the sense that when iTunes backs up your phone, the Camera Roll is part of that backup. So what had happened was that when I’d setup my new iPhone, I hadn’t backed up my old phone recently enough, so there were a dozen photos that weren’t transfered.

The only photos that are really “synced” are any additional photos that are in the folder you select in the Photos tab of the iPhone sync settings in iTunes. Incidentally, this is how you can have additional albums on your phone aside from just having everything in the Camera Roll. The subfolders are the albums.

The solution was to plug in my old phone and copy off all the images to the synced photos folder on my PC. This gave me the opportunity to put them in albums as I mentioned above. Of course, when I went to sync them back to my phone, nothing synced. Apparently, iTunes doesn’t like NTFS when it comes to the photo sync process and this bug has existed for many, many versions of iTunes. The workaround is to have your synced photos folder on a FAT or FAT32 formatted partition. A convenient device for this is an external hard drive or flash drive, which are typically FAT32.

One upside to moving everything off my Camera Roll is that when iTunes backs up my phone, it should go faster.

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