How to transfer files to your Android device via WiFi or mobile networks

Connecting your Android device to your computer with a USB cable can be annoying and almost prehistoric. Most people have WiFi networks set up in their home and anyone using a smartphone is going to have a data connection, so why not use those to transfer files to and from your computer with your device? It’s easier and you’re not chained to a USB cable when you want to move some music around. There’s several different ways to get the job down, and this guide is going to go through some of those options.

WiFi File Transfer

WiFi File Transfer is a popular app that works very well for moving files around your home network. It’s not flashy, but it gets the job done. The app starts up a service and produces a URL that you can type into your computer’s web browser, and as long as that service is running, you can see your device’s internal memory and SD card. From here, you can download any files to your computer, or upload files onto the phone: music, pictures, movies, word documents, etc. The transfers are very quick, and depending on your router, are even faster than a USB connection.

The free version of WiFi File Transfer is fully functional but can only upload files less than 4 MB in size. That definitely rules out any movies, and most music, too. The Pro version removes this limit, and for only $1.40, it’s worth the convenience of never needing a USB cable for file transfers again.

Dropbox

Cloud storage is becoming the norm for keeping files stored, and Dropbox is at the front of that revolution. But in addition to keeping files stored and synced, you can also use it as a makeshift file transfer application, with or without WiFi. File transfers aren’t quite as fast as they would be with direct WiFi transfer, but it can be a little more flexible to work with.

The first step is moving whatever file you want to transfer to your Dropbox storage space. You can do this through a web browser or you can download the Dropbox application on a PC or Mac to have easy access to it. This is definitely the slowest part, as most people don’t have speedy upload speeds for their internet. Generally, though, for a few pictures or songs, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes. After the files are moved onto Dropbox, you can access them through the Dropbox app on your Android phone. Download speeds vary here, and if you’re using 3G or 4G, it’ll eat a bit into your data cap, but this works extremely well if you’re at a friend’s house without your USB cable and you need to save a few files off of their computer. You can also favorite any files on your Android device that you want to store for offline access, including pictures, music, and documents. It’s also great for keeping folders synced between your phone and computer.

Samba

Samba servers are a little more complex than what we’ve covered, but they’re also more convenient, with just one caveat; if you’re running Windows on your computer, your Android device is probably going to need root. If you’ve got a rooted device, this is easily the best option to use to get your files transferred. Essentially, installing a Samba server app on your device turns it into a network drive that you can see just like a regular USB stick on your computer as long as they’re connected to the same WiFi network. From here, you can drag and drop files to and from the phone, just like you would if it was connected to your computer via USB cable.

If you’ve got your device rooted, you’re already past the first step. If not, you can check out our guide to get you started. Next, you’ll just need a Samba server app, and in this case I’d recommend this simple Samba Filesharing application just because it’s straightforward to use. In the app, it’ll ask you to set a password before you can enable the server, and you can optionally change the name of your device on the network. After that’s out of the way, you simply enable the server and check for your device on your computer’s network, and you’ll have access to your files after you put in the password you set up. Just enable the server whenever you’re on WiFi to get to your files, and turn the server off when you’re done.

As always, there’s a few different ways you can move files around on your home network. These three just happen to be the most convenient and painless.

» See more articles by Jared Peters


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  • http://twitter.com/A_n_d_r_o_i_dz DavidR

    There is more: Google drive, AirDroid …

  • http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/ Andy J

    AirDroid is actually the most painless – and easiest to configure for non tech users.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DrDaveMGP Dave Bryant

    Foldersync allows SMB access to your computer or NAS on your local network plus Multi Cloud File Sync.
    Es File Explorer allows true file management like access across your network or anyone’s network plus the Cloud just like Windows file explorer.
    Both on Play Store.

  • Robert Sydbrink

    Just use a good filemanager. I use the ES one which can connect over wifi and stuff.

    • http://www.facebook.com/rodgerq Rodger Quinn

      solid explorer is also pretty good

  • Paolo

    I’m using File Transfer. Great family of apps for Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac. Easy to use and fast.

  • codeiki

    airdroid is a better alternative. no file size limit and have lots of function. samba is too complex to use

  • GizMoQC

    USB is just …. so much faster….

  • http://www.mantrais.com/ SteveM

    There are lots of application available in the market which offer same functionality. I prefer to use Airdroid which is best.

  • SJG

    I love drop box, and even better it came free with my Samsung Gallaxy S3. I have it set up to send photos to drop box, and them to my Wifes PC, where she sends the ones she likes to shutterfly to print. It is all automatic, I love it. Will never loose another photo of the kids.

  • GSpeedcomputer

    its really working. .i try to transfer file from android device. .thanks anyway

  • UWDHW

    DropBox is FREE!!!

    • Some

      Only free with 2 GB. Which is definitely not enough for me.

  • teddy

    Wifi File Transfer Magic is the best app. I can copy ma entire music collection with one drag&drop

  • Reezo

    How lazy do you have to be to bitch about putting a USB cable into your computer?

    • Doug Walker

      you’d be suprised just how lazy i am

    • what kind of name is reezo tbh

      most of the time cables dont work and its 2014 so stop being a bitch about it thank you kindly

      • Reezo

        How about some punctuation, man? What you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I’ve ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone on this site is now dumber for having read that. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

    • ND

      We want an app that opens bedroom curtains every morning at 7:00am sharp and close it back at 10:00am sharp. Yes, we’re too lazy to do that ourselves