[Guide] How to Access/Transfer Files on your Android Phone, Wirelessly

If you’ve been using an Android device, chances are you’ve plugged it into your computer’s USB port at some stage and realised that you can ‘mount’ the phone and it shows up as a drive on your PC. What you’re seeing is the contents of the phone’s SD card, as an accessible location on your computer. From here, you’ve either transferred media every which way, copied programs to/from, cleaned up clutter, etc. But what if you wanted to access your SD card, without having to plug your phone into a PC? Or what if you wanted to share items on your SD card when you’re at somebody’s house/office or even on the road? And why does accessing your SD card on your PC stop your phone accessing it too? Enter SwiFTP to solve all of these issues.

There are many ways of accessing your phone files remotely, as an experienced user will tell you, but the method I’ve found to be easiest, especially for large quantity / size of file transfers, is SwiFTP. What this program does is create an FTP server on your phone (read here if you’re unsure what an FTP is – in short it’s a more efficient way of transferring files around).

Method 1) Over Wifi
After installing SwiFTP, there are three buttons available, with server status below. A good idea at this stage is to enter the “Setup” page, and enter a username and password that will allow access to your SD card contents. Then choose if you want to enable access over Wifi / 3G or both. Click on “Start” on the main page and your server is running.

How do you use it? Assuming that you already have Wifi turned on the phone, you will notice that there is a Wifi URL that shows up on the page. This is your phone’s internal Wifi IP address. If you type this address into Windows Explorer address bar, it will connect to your phone (after confirming your username/password) and show your phone’s SD card contents as browseable folders. From here you can drag/drop/manipulate files just as they were a folder on your PC. Easy right? You can also bookmark this address for quick access next time.

Method 2) Over 3G
The same occurs if you want to enable access over 3G. Note that Wifi access has precedence over 3G, so you need to disable Wifi if you want to share exclusively over 3G. You will now notice that the URL given is your external 3G IP address on the mobile network. You can thus access your files the same way by typing this URL in. Note that speeds will most likely be slower, and it will use your data quota if you transfer files to the phone.

Some notes:

  • Unless you click ‘Stop’ or end the program, the FTP server will continue to run on your phone indefinitely, useful if are often transferring files to/from, but it will cause some power usage, and is generally unnecessary to leave on when you are not transferring files.
  • By default, on logging in to the FTP server, it will take you to /sdcard/ folder, which is obviously your SDCard. This folder is configurable in ‘Setup’ so you can choose where to take you by default. You can even browse the phone’s files itself (outside of SD card files) if you have root access.
  • If you are copying a large amount of files across, note that Android devices by default will power down the wireless radio in the event it enters sleep mode to save power. So either stop your device going to sleep and losing the wifi connection, or set it up so it doesn’t close wifi when it sleeps (Home => Menu => Settings => Wireless & Networks => Wifi Settings => Menu  => Advanced => Wifi Sleep Policy)

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