09 January 2012

Seriously Samsung, is Kies Your Best Effort?

Why I love my Samsung phone, but hate the companion software.

I find it baffling that Samsung would spend so much effort on developing their phones and tablets and then deliver them to market with companion software that simply does not work.

I have had my Orange Samsung Galaxy SII for a few months now and on the whole I love it. I’m not an Android obsessive: I do recommend iPhones for some people as I believe they are possibly more suited to the some users, basically because they are less configurable. However, one thing I do not like about the Samsung is the companion software: Samsung Kies. It reminds me of the Nokia Ovi software which I used to use back in the day. Like Ovi, Kies is slow, resource hungry, until recently was PC only and for me it fails to connect most of the time:
“Cannot start service on the device. Please disconnect then reconnect the device”

Notice the lack of any useful suggestions like closing applications on the phone or turning USB debugging off, both of which I’ve found are necessary. If I disconnect and reconnect I get the same message again and the “Network Trouble-shooter” is a joke: it just uninstall and re-installs the Windows phone driver!

What is it with these massive companies and their really bad companion software? Don’t they realise that the quality of their product is related to the ENTIRE experience, not just that on the device but also how to sync files (e.g. music) from their computer; upgrade the software; or how easy it is to restore after an upgrade or phone loss?
They didn't need to tie up the USB drivers, software updates, media sync etc. into this rubbish, but rather could have enabled the same capabilities via more 'standard' means e.g. freely distributing the USB drivers, making software updates work over the air (direct from the device: mine simply don't) and supporting standard media sharing/syncing protocols.

It’s no wonder Apple have done so well as they took the time to approach the whole user experience. Mind you, their system has it’s flaws too (e.g. a friend updated to iOS5 and lost all his photos).
Alternatives to Kies

It depends: what do you want companion software for?

I have Kies installed so as to install the USB drivers. Then I removed it from startup and only run it to check for updates to the phone's software periodically or when I read about an available update.

Email, contacts, calendar etc
I use Google accounts for all that so it’s pointless in Kies anyway.

You can use the MTP service if your device supports if (Android >=3) or connect USB drive when connected to your pc and:

  • Drag/drop
  • Attempt to use Windows Media (supposedly it can manage it but I’ve never managed it)
  • Use a program like Media Monkey or iTunes Sync to manage files.

Good luck, and don’t forget to voice your dislike of Kies to Samsung and anyone/everyone else!


  1. Agree wholeheartedly with you Phil!

    It's really frustrating to own and use these very sophisticated smartphones, and experiencing such let downs when trying to sync them to any computer.

    Not sure if this is related to the myriad of PC harware and WindowsOS configurations available out there.

    I think Steve Jobs understood right from the onset that most people wanted a complete Ecosystem: a seamless experience between their Phone, their PC/MAC Companion Software, an APPStore and CloudComputing enabling smooth sailing SYNC between all of the above.
    Again, I think Apple have pretty much nailed it with the iPhone (of course they have some issues too) but then again, their Customer Support is the best in the business.

    Hence Steve's approach to retain control of the MAC hardware and software R&D under one roof to ensure both H/W and S/W would work! (OK... most of the time ;-)

    I just bought an Galaxy SII and stumbled onto your article as I was searching for Customer reviews on the Kies companion s/w, and frankly I am not sure that I want to install it after reading about your personal experience.

    Would be grateful if you could point us to a professional review (e.g CNET) of Companion Softwares for the SII.

    Thanks and Take Care!

    1. Hi Roberto, I'm afraid I don't know of any alternative companion software, which is one of my annoyances with it! But I have added a section to the article above including details of some alternative methods for achieving the various things Kies is supposed to do.

  2. I just tried kies because OTA update for ICS on my galaxy note failed. I totally agree that Kies is the worst software you will ever use for many years to come. really no words can describe how on earth samsung could dare to release such piece of crab. Did they ever test it themselves? Shame on all the programmers who created such crab.

  3. Kies isn't as bad as itunes tbh

    1. I respect your opinion but in my experience I'm afraid I can't agree with you as I also have i devices which sync via iTunes. iTunes is by no means perfect as I have also experienced some serious problems with it too (eg not recognising a device as having been synced before and wanting to wipe it!) but on the whole I find it more reliable than Kies. At least it has always connected for me so there is a starting point: without establishing that there is no where to go!

  4. I used Kies and I am happy with it's performance although there is much room for it's improvement.

    1. I am glad you have had positive experiences with it. For me it is the achilles heel of Samsung products.

  5. i couldn't find any option to connect to internet in samsung kies...worst piece of software....i am still left wondering how to connect to internet using my samsung mobile with this rubbish software

  6. I suspect that, like T-mobile on mine, Orange have disabled FOTA on your phone. I agree entirely with you on Kies. I wasted the best part of two days putting an update on my Galaxy S3. Kies wouldn't work at all on one computer and yes suggestions on the computer and from Samsung support "this is normal - leave it for a few minutes and it will reconnect" are not helpful. I did get it running on my laptop but having installed the update the phone decided of its own accord to unmount the SD card. More hours of frustration must have resulted in a tired me doing something too quickly and destroying a £50 64GB micro SD card.

  7. Seems every time I try and connect to Kies it just sits there saying connecting but nothing happens?? what am I doing wrong

  8. Over a year later it's still ridiculously slow. It's like going uphill in chunky peanut butter. It's painful.

    Being a convert from iPhone to Samsung S4, although I love the phone, the computer software is laughable. Dreadfully dated interface.

    There really is samsung wrong here. See what I did? Eh? Eh?


  9. Kies honestly is a piece of Junk, I am wondering how a company like Samsung which spent $400 to $500 million advertising on Samsung smart phones, do nothing to invest in Kies which is never work properly PC, most of the time the device is not connected, you have to reboot the phone or upgrade the USB and many other things. When the phone S3, recognized by the stupid software, it took hours and days trying to backup my S3, the result is nil, zero, never end, no backup.

    Samsung should rewrite kies from scratch and be honest when they deliver softwares to support their phones, the software should work , having some bug no problem it can be solved , but not to leave this problem and keep users download this junk of software in their PC. I do believe the company knows well about these problems but doing nothing, because their main interest is to sell phones only,

  10. This is my sixth attempt over the last 2 years and each time so far I have uninstalled it within a day. For some reason each time I connect my phone it wants to download USB driver and then sits there saying connecting for a loooooong time and I give up.

    However, I did find and have been using and and it works like a charm - Android Synch Manager and it works over WiFi. Never had any problem with it.

    I don't know why Samsung even continues to blow this trumpet. Samsung please give up. Your phones are OK. Please pay someone else to write the software.