The problem with Samsung Kies

I love my Samsung Galaxy S2 – it really is a terrific phone. I’m sure it will be even better once the unlocked version of Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) is released. Unfortunately, I may struggle installing it.

You see, Samsung users can’t update their phones OTA (over the air) but have to do it via PC program named Samsung Kies. Like many phones programs it allows you to connect your phone to your PC and share files, contacts, etc. Unfortunately, it has a few issues.

  1. It’s extremely slow in use.
  2. It seems to want to update itself every time I launch it – and it’s not a low update process either.

Unfortunately, it’s biggest problem is that it’s a hard task trying to get a phone to actual connect to it. Indeed, right now I’m unable to connect my phone at all. And because this is the only way Samsung will push updated out to the phone, I’m not sure how I’m ever going to receive ICS.

Let me put something straight – it does connect. The USB device is accepted and my phone appears in “My Computer” – I can view the drives, drag and drop files, etc. No, it’s Kies that won’t detect it. Kies does include a troubleshooting option but this seems to just re-install the driver. And that doesn’t work either. I’ve tried it on 2 laptops and a desktop and none of them will work.

But it’s not just me – Kies is pretty universally known for being quite rubbish and for not connecting. And its this kind of frustration that means that people re-consider their buying choices next time around. I’m already considering a Nokia Windows phone next year and this is making my decision easier!

Kies for Mac

Kies for Mac has a built in limitation whereas it won’t install on any version other than a specific range. This range doesn’t include Mountain Lion (released 2 months ago), even though it’s possible to “hack” the installation and force it to just work. Another nice piece of coding from Samsung.


28 responses

  1. JWilliams avatar

    Yeah, Kies is rubbish at connecting. I can’t install ICS because it hangs or loses the connection at some point in the process before I manage to download the update to the phone.

    In past versions of Kies I found that uninstalling Kies, and then deleting its registry keys, meant that on reinstalling (or rather, installing the newer version that is out by the time I’ve got my old version to run) got me back to working version of Kies.

    The only way I managed to get the last two updates to install were by reinstalling Kies as above, and running it as administrator. Maybe something in that info will help you a teesy bit.

    It only ever connects to my phone for one session though before it needs to be reinstalled.

    To be fair to Kies, 33% of the problem is that it is a USB device, which means the connection is usually crap and for no obvious reason requires drivers, that you had working yesterday, to be reinstalled. But it only seems to be USB phones and serial port converters that ever hav this problem – they only ever connect once through any given port. Somehow external hard drives work perfectly every time. I’ve had a Motorola that was difficult to connect, and I never managed to gat any of my 5 Nokias to connect a second time. So there is something about phones in particular…

    1. I’m not sure if I agree – even when Kies won’t connect I can happily browser my phones drives via the USB connection. I think the issue is more to do with the Kies software than the actual USB connection.

      1. Jaideep C avatar
        Jaideep C

        Agree completely. That is the funny part.

        If my laptop can recognize my Galaxy S2 drives and can copy files off it, there has to be a BIG problem in Kies to not get it right.

        Again, I cant seem to say it enough number of times.

        BIG SHAME on Samsung and its Kies implementation.

    2. I don’t have any problem connecting my Samsung Ace to my iMac. What I DO have a problem with is Samsung’s blithe dismissal of how to write applications for the Mac.

      Samsung…please note. You DO NOT instal your folder at the users root level. And most importantly when updating the firmware on the phone PLEASE DO NOT seize control of my desktop. That really is unforgivable.

  2. Mangoburger avatar

    I have a Galaxy S2 (upgrade history 2.3.3 > 2.3.6 > ICS 4.0.3) and a Galaxy Note (2.3.6). I migrated from an iPhone 3G to the S2 on a post-paid plan in mid 2011, then like a moth was irresistibly drawn to the Note’s large screen. Haven’t had much luck with Kies, but I live in Australia and all updates have been completed OTA. I’ve completed upgrades for others, using several different networks, and never realised this was different overseas. I’ve been trying to connect my Note to Kies today, I thought the connection problem was caused by my Samsung dock.

  3. Those who manage to upgrade to ICS via Kies will find their galaxy S2 will not connect to Kies!

    1. Jaideep C avatar
      Jaideep C

      Completely AGREE. Have wasted 2 full days trying to get it to work. After spending 2 decades with technology and phones right from the Palm PILOT, if I cant get ICS on Galaxy S2 to sync with the utterly stupid Samsung Kies, I really wonder who can.?

      I am appalled at Samsung’s callousness in this matter.

  4. I installed Kies (for a new Galaxy Note) on a PC (Windows XP) and it worked fine. The second time I tried to use it, it crashes.
    Reinstalling Kies doesn’t bring different results. The same problem with using Kies on a Lenovo laptop. Strangely Kies works on the office PC (all PCs and the laptop run XP). But that’s not where I can do it.

    Is it possible to install and run Kies from an external hard drive? That’s probably my last chance to use Kies at home.

  5. Jaideep C avatar
    Jaideep C

    The article is bang on!

    Samsung should be ASHAMED at making such a rubbish pice of software.

    I have tried Kies on so many laptops and it simply does not work.

    Contrast this to even the old and ancient Palm HotSYnc. If Palm could get it right 6 years ago, I fail to understand why a behemoth like Samsung cant get it right.

    Windows phone shave superb sync capabilities and what about the Blackberry, The sync is TOP CLASS

    Only because of Kies, I am not confident of owning a Samsung phone in the future.

    I am very happy with my Galaxy S2 but at complete grief with syncing.
    Today I have to go thru the torturous path of EXPOTY OUTLOOK to GMAIL and SYNC from there into my Android. This is very wrong of Samsung and reduces confidence in all its products.

    The HTC phones have better sync it seems and the the HTC One X is a MUCH better alternative to the S3, only because of its more reliable SYNC capabilities.

  6. John Clancy avatar
    John Clancy

    I cannot believe the number of people that are having problems with connecting to Samsung Kies to get the upgrade to ICS. I’m sick and tired of it, why Samsung cannot make an easier solution is beyond me. I will be voting with my wallet in the future and steering well clear of the Samsung S3 or any other Samsung product.

    Haven’t they heard of the word USEABILITY, it’s the only redeeming thing about Apple, but for Samsung to let Apple make it their USP is ridiculous.

    That said I don’t want an Apple just a workable Android.

  7. Peter Bayliss avatar
    Peter Bayliss

    Hi Guys. I have an S3 its first update is out now to fix the home screen redraw issue. Kies just simply fails everytime to download the update. The OTA update is non functioning. This assumes you have a pc and broadband connection. I have done a full keylog report that is with Samsung if they can’t fix it I have told Orange they can have the phone back as it is not upgradeable. I now wish I had stuck with HTC.

  8. Andy ONeill avatar
    Andy ONeill

    Hi guys,

    Kies is written in .Net. It originally targetted the .Net 2 framework and has been upgraded to target .Net 4. But very badly upgraded. I suspect some dll haven’t been upgraded. Anyhow, the way to get kies to actually stay on my screen is to edit the config file. On my machine ( 64 bit win 7 ) this is at C:\Program Files (x86)\Samsung\Kies\Kies.exe.config remove the .net 4 line so it looks like:

    Stop Kiestrayagent using Task manager ( right click the task bar and choose task manager ).
    Then start Kies, and I can sync.
    I couldn’t upgrade my Note to 4.0.1 this way it just stuck.
    To do that I used an old xp machine.
    If you don’t have this option then you could try installing kies on a virtual xp machine. Win 7 pro and ultimate have this option, I don’t think home does. Click start All Programs and down to Windows Virtual PC.
    Or you can use Odin.
    Google instructions and read them carefully because Odin has the power to do anything, including brick your phone.
    Perfectly safe if you follow the instructions.

  9. ok tried the few things here, then tried a few old school tricks. and here is what worked for me.

    plug phone into the usb.
    open your device manager. (right click “My computer” too get too device manager).
    in device manager goto “Universal serial bus controllers” right click on “Samsung mobile composite device”, select properties.
    click driver tab, and uninstall.
    in device manager goto “SAMSUNG Andriod Phone”, right click on “Samsung Andriod ADB Interface”, select properties.
    click driver tab, and uninstall.
    unplug phone wait 60 seconds and plug back in.

    it should now be working.

    1. Eileen Tay avatar
      Eileen Tay

      Hi, I am using Samsung Note and Macbook Air… So how can I sync with Samsung Kies using my Macbook Air? I had tried uninstalling and re-installing the Kies for Mac but am still not able to sync them.. Am very tempt to change my phone back to Apple when iphone5 launch… Android is not as user friendly as Apple though.. or is it samsung ?

      1. Don’t let Samsung put you off Android – this is a Samsung issue.

        As soon as they release an official Mountain Lion version of Kies, I’ll try it out and report back my experiences.

        It doesn’t help with software updates, but have you tried AirDroid as an alternative?


        1. Eileen Tay avatar
          Eileen Tay

          I am using Kies Air, it does sync perfectly. Is this the same as AirDroid ? However, Kies Air cannot do any firmware installation. I had wanted to connect the phone to my Mac for upgrading of firmware. It is so irritating to be prompt constantly by the phone to do firmware upgrading… Or is there any other method to do firmware installation ?

          1. Airdroid is just like Kies Air – you can synchronise, access files, etc. But no, you can’t perform updates. Unfortunately, you have to get the desktop version of Kies working for that.


  10. Just recently got a Galaxy S3 and having read about some virus issues thought I’d update the firmware. The user guide explains that you can do this OTA (over the air i.e. via WiFi) via the option Settings > About Device > Software Update > Update… except that under About Device this Software Update option does not exist. Why not? In your intro you say ‘…Samsung users can’t update their phones OTA (over the air) but have to do it via PC program named Samsung Kies’. I’m confused. There are webpages with the same instructions and yet the option doesn’t exist on the phone. T-Mobile had never heard of the issue and suggested I tried the Samsung software Kies… so I have and as you have all said, it won’t even run! I have tried Windows 7 64bit and a VM with XP SP3. From what I have read online today it seems that the solution is to ‘root’ the phone, put a standard version of Android back on and that way the OTA software update option should come back – with the advantage (hopefully) that Kies won’t be needed any longer.

    1. I believe it may be a network locked feature. Before Ice Cream Sandwich the Galaxy S2 had the OTA option but it didn’t do anything – now it’s unlocked and they are sending updates via it.


  11. I came across this while attempting to find an alternative to the useless piece of rubbish that is kies. I recently accidentally deleted all my photos from my SGS2 so decided it was time to start synching on a regular basis. I was dreading it as I remember trying out kies when i first got my phone a year ago. Cut a story short – i just deleted kies from my mac. I tried to use the export photo option and it was so slow over wifi I gave up. (The usb connector has worn out on my phone so shutdown if anything other than the powercharger is connected, lol). I used another piece of software that worked like explorer/finder (ES File Explorer) and I can see my nas and copy/paste everything over. This isn’t ideal (when you’ve come from an iphone background) but at least it managed to transfer about 100Mb of data in a minute or so – instead of the several hours kies had been taking. ??? It’s sad as Im thinking of upgrading to a Note 2, but the ecosystem makes me long for an iphone again. I’m a techy, but just don’t want to spend time doing something that should be automatic. I recently restored my other halfs iphone after she received a replacement under warranty (whether that is good or bad is up for debate as it simply stopped talking to the network). But the restore was as simple as starting itunes, plugging in the usb and clicking restore from previous backup. Whole thing took less than an hour. Somehow I doubt I’d ever be able to restore my SGS2. I reckon I’d be best off knocking up a few shell scripts under osx given that its not much different to setting up a batch file transfer suite between several unix systems 😉 Still I’m looking for an iTunes equivalent for android/sgs2.

  12. Maurice UK avatar
    Maurice UK

    Got a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 for Christmas. I love the tablet but hate and do mean hate Kies. Trying to update causes my PC, Acer laptop and my wife’s Lenovo laptop to hang for hours. Such a poor piece of software shouldn’t be released by such a big company. I’ve given up on trying to update to Jellybean and given up on the idea of buying a Samsung smartphoneanytime soon. My next smartphone will be a Google Nexus as will be the next tablet I buy.

    1. I totally agree Maurice – I already have a Nexus 7 and my Nexus 4 is on order. Happy to wave goodbye to Samsung.

  13. Ian Clark avatar
    Ian Clark

    OMG, been reading through this all. I finally managed to get my Note 1 (currently on ICS) connected through Kies (Windows 7 x64 Ultimate). I had to connect via USB with USB Debugging mode enabled (Settings > Developer options). I then dropped down the notifications and it tells me that it’s connected via USB as a camera etc. I tapped on it for more options and changed the setting to MTP. It then installed a new MTP driver.

    It now tells me it’s connected as a media device.

    Disconnected the cable (KIES is already open at this point), reconnected it and after about 30 or 40 seconds… CONNECTED!!!

  14. Ian Clark avatar
    Ian Clark

    …ironically, JB has not been released for my G-Note yet (Carphone Warehouse – unlocked model) but as and when it is hopefully I’ll be able to update without problem. I do agree Samsung need to get their heads into gear and fix this. Android phones are starting to break into Apple’s stats big time so it would be nice to have a properly working software app (or at least update OTA).

  15. I had the same issues with my original Galaxy S and Kies, now have a Galaxy Note 3.
    We need a class action against Samsung.

    Backing up my phone now as I have to do a factory reset because of GPS satellite lock problems and Wifi Internet connection problems.

    Seriously this is pathetic for Samsung

  16. I am glad I am not the only one. But i’m not going to rant about it. Simply keep on telling anyone that asks that I do not know of a better phone but that certainly I do not feel that Samsung are a proper smart phone manufacturer. Maybe big but not clever. My Galaxy ace two is simply irritating.

  17. Same here; I have a 2 year old Galaxy S2, which I love, but I will never get a Samsung device again because Kies is the worst program ever written. I dread to think how much time I have lost over the last 2 years trying to get this festering pile of garbage working.

  18. Caroline avatar

    I wanted to delete this line: .

    But I’m unable to save the new Kies.exe.config.

    ARRGhh… why does it work for everybody else?

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