When it comes to copying files to and from your Android phone or tablet the normal way is to use a USB cable from your computer to your phone. It works absolutely fine that way but there's a few reasons why you'd want to have an alternative to the cable method. One alternative is WiFi transfer.
The first reason is that you don't have access to a cable. It might have broke, got forgot or even lost - or if you're like me then you might just be too lazy to go upstairs to get it haha - but if you don't have one then there is absolutely no way for you to use a cable to transfer your files.
There could even be problems with using the cable, for me my cable is too short to use without a USB extension. Or your cable port might be broken. I use a Galaxy Tab 10.1 as my primary Android device but the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 came out last year if your looking to get a decent Android tablet.
Getting your Android set-up for WiFi Transfer
There are a few ways to do this, my personal method used to be running a basic FTP server on my phone and connecting using an ordinary FTP client like FileZilla. Nowadays there's a nifty little app called AirDroid.
It's completely free and does more than simply allowing you to access and modify files. You just use your favorite browser to securely connect to the in-built web server that the app runs and it gives you a lovely desktop like interface to manage everything on your Android device. It only takes 4 steps to install, connect and copy your files over.
There are other ways to do this such as storing your files in the cloud so you can access them anywhere but most of the time a direct transfer from your computer is enough.
1. Installing AirDroid
I'm sure your familiar with the process of installing apps on Android. Go to the Google Play Store and search for AirDroid and Click Install. Easy as that.
2. Running AirDroid on your Phone/Tablet
Normally when you install an app it creates an icon on your current homescreen but if it doesn't you'll be able to find it in your app list. When you first open the app you'll get a welcome screen that tells you about some of the cool features but today we'll only be covering the file management section.
3. Connecting to Android from your Computer
You'll be presented with the connection screen once you've gone through the welcome message. On that screen it will give you 2 steps to perform. When you type the address into your browser you'll see the following screen.
- Open the web address - AirDroid runs it's own web server when the app is enabled so you just need to type in the IP and port into your favorite browser on your computer or, because AirDroid now uses a custom vHosts file, you can forget about using long IP and port numbers and just type web.airdroid.com.
- Sign in - You'll see a page like the one above when you enter the address into you computer. You just need to type in the password provided in the AirDroid Android app to securely connect. Or you could connect via the QR code by clicking the camera next to the password in the app and pointing your phone's camera at the screen.
Depending on what device you have and how it's set-up you might need to tell AirDroid to keep the screen on. You can do that in the settings of AirDroid on your device by clicking the little cog in the top right corner of the app.
Once your connected you'll get this screen in your browser.
4. Transferring your files to Android over WiFi
Today we're only interested in transferring files so we'll be using the Files icon. When you click on it a box will open in the AirDroid tab, essentially a window inside a window. You'll be able to explore all the files on your device and download them if you want by clicking selecting the file/folder you want and clicking the Download button. You can also rename the files or move them about if you want.
Individual files are downloaded as-is but if you select multiple files, or a folder, they will download in a single .zip file. You could create a full back-up of all your files this way if you want but there's better ways to perform a full back-up, like Titanium Backup if you're rooted.
Uploading files is done in the same window as downloading them. You'll see the upload button in the top right corner of the Files window. It's right next to the Download button. Navigate to the location you want to copy files to and click upload. When you do you'll get another window pop open.
The upload window is nice and intuitive, you can simply drag files from your computer into the box and they will begin uploading to your Android. There's some more buttons in that window that allow you to upload single files or whole folders using the standard browse and open dialogue windows. You'll only need to use the buttons if your uploading folders, because they are not yet supported by drag-and-drop. After you've finished uploading you can click the Clear Uploaded button to empty the list if you want.
And it's as easy as that to transfer files to and from Android over WiFI. It takes less than 2 minutes to install AirDroid, connect to it and start moving your files.
Do you know of any other programs that allow you to move files between your phone and your PC? I'm looking for an iOS alternative to AirDroid so I would love for you to point me to one in the comments below.