MTP: Is This The Best Mode For Transferring Music?

Should you be using MTP to sync your music files?

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What Does MTP Stand For?

If you've got a phone, tablet, or portable media player then there's a good chance that it will support MTP. In fact, you may have already spotted this feature in your device's settings.

But, what does this actually mean?

The term MTP is short for Media Transfer Protocol. It is a communication method specifically optimized for the transfer of audio and video files. It was developed by Microsoft and is part of the Windows Media platform (which includes Windows Media Player).

Consumer electronic devices that can be plugged into a USB port on a computer for instance normally support the MTP protocol. This is especially true if they are capable of handling video (movie clips, photos, etc.) as well as audio formats.

What Kinds of Portable Devices Typically Use MTP?

The types of portable electronic devices that typically support MTP include:

  • MP3 players.
  • PMPs.
  • Tablet computers.
  • Smartphones / cellphones.
  • Digital cameras.
  • Other multimedia devices.

These normally come with a USB (Universal Serial Bus) cable that can be directly plugged into your computer. However, the MTP protocol is not limited to a particular type of interface. Some devices for example have a FireWire port instead. MTP can also be used via Bluetooth and over a network (TCP/IP) with some operating systems (Windows 7 / Vista).

Is it Best to Use This Mode For Transferring Digital Music?

In most cases, yes. The main reason for this is that MTP is optimized for the transfer of media-related files (including metadata).

In fact, it doesn't allow anything else to be synced which simplifies things for the user.

Another reason to use MTP in preference to an alternative transfer method (such as MSC), is that your portable device has ultimate control rather than your computer. This way you can be assured that your device won't be inadvertently formatted for instance like it could be if using MSC.

However, just like any system there are disadvantages too. For example:

  • It can be a slow way to sync music files. Only one file at a time is allowed to be transferred.
  • You can't edit or make changes to media files directly on an MTP device. In order to modify a file you first have to make changes to it on your computer. This modified file then has to be re-synced again to your portable device.

What's The Best Transfer Mode to Use For Windows and Mac OS X?

For Windows users, the MTP protocol is the recommended setting to use for your portable hardware device. This provides a user-friendly way to integrate your device to use: software media players, playlists, and music subscription services (Rhapsody etc.) for example.

This contrasts with the MSC (Mass Storage Class) mode which is normally used for non-Windows operating systems such as Mac. When a device is set to MSC mode it simply acts as a mass storage device -- like a flash memory card for example.