5

Known solutions:

  • USB Mass Storage (sadly, mostly deprecated on Android 4, 5, etc.).

  • MTP, and I know its benefits (a lot) and its weaknesses (browsing on a MTP drive with Windows Explorer has poor integration of usual features: try to right click on a file on a MTP drive, you don't have the usual UI things like Open with etc.)

  • Samba

  • FTP server solutions (good solution, but 1) how to use this if I'm on the road, with no Wifi router like at home? then I cannot link computer <---> phone? 2) it seems that such an app doesn't offer access to external sd card)

  • AirDroid, etc.

But with all these methods, you don't really have access on your computer to the phone's filesystem like if it was a local folder.

Question:

Is there a solution that makes it possible to browse the phone's filesystem as if it was a computer local folder, easily?

3
  • 1
    ADB can be used to access the file system very easily, just transferring files will be more difficult because of adb push and adb pull but AFAIK there are GUI applications for this. Wireless only works via WiFi anyways and most modern laptops feature a built-in mobile hotspot.
    – GiantTree
    Jan 26 '17 at 23:33
  • No, adb does not help to provide an interface for Windows Explorer. Try to reboot the phone (this might kick-off the media scanner) or complain to the manufacturer. Android's MTP daemon does not allow you to transparently view files, it act's as a proxy and only scans for files so often.
    – GiantTree
    Jan 27 '17 at 10:29
  • A remote partition/drive can never be accessed like a local folder - at least not on Windows. The best (most local folder-like) you can get on Windows is a SMB/CIFS share. On Linux there are ways to mount a network drive so that it looks like a local drive, however the network drive at some points will still behave slightly differently depending on the used protocol.
    – Robert
    Aug 4 '18 at 11:32
5

This solution works even over a hotspot. Simply enable Portable Hotspot on your mobile device, then connect your laptop to the Hotspot WiFi network.

Tip: If you want to prevent the laptop from using your mobile data, simply switch mobile data off while your hotspot is on. The solution will work even without internet access.

  1. Install Cx File Explorer on your Android phone (it's completely free, and has no ads!).
  2. If your phone and laptop are not on the same WiFi network, enable Portable Hotspot on your phone and connect your laptop to the hotspot.
  3. Open Cx File Explorer (give permission), go to the Network tab and open "Access from PC".
  4. Tap on "Start Service". You'll see the full FTP address displayed on your phone.
  5. On Windows 10, open File Explorer and enter the full FTP address into the address bar.
  6. Press Enter, and you'll see a "device" folder. Open it, and you'll see all the file in your phone. If you have an external SD card, you may see it as another folder besides "device".

The following is optional. If you wish to see this FTP server as a location under "This PC":

  1. Open "This PC", right-click a blank space and click on "Add a network location".
  2. Click Next, then Choose a custom network location, then Next again.
  3. Type in the full FTP address that you see on your phone. Click Next.
  4. Leave the option "Log on anonymously" enabled. Click Next.
  5. Give your location a name. You can leave it as the IP address or maybe name it after your device.
  6. Click Next, then Finish.

The FTP server should open in File Explorer like a normal file system. You can drag and drop files, copy and paste, etc.

For more details and other ways to access the FTP server, see this How-To Geek article.

3
  • Disclaimer: I'm not affiliated with any products mentioned.
    – ADTC
    Dec 3 '20 at 5:11
  • Thanks @ADTC. Is it possible to have read+write access on the external microSD card? If I remember correctly some apps can't write on microSD.
    – Basj
    Dec 3 '20 at 6:17
  • @Basj sorry at the moment, I don't have an external storage card in my phone. It works fine for the internal storage though. Try testing on both external and internal on your phone.
    – ADTC
    Dec 3 '20 at 7:02
6

According to the mentioned requirements, more powerful tool to use is Sambadroid. SambaDroid is a native port for Android of the popular Samba for Linux. This application allows you to share/manage files on your device easily from any device of your network.

Update: With the Windows Creators Update you may (or not) need to first enable SMB Server/Client functionality.

Pros

  • No need to use router even a mobile hotpot works fine
  • You can easily set a share from your android device (e.g sd card)
  • Ability to set shared folder with read/write permissions

Limitations

  • Due to limitations in later editions of Windows trying to explicitly map the network drive can result in a "network not found" error. Ignore it and use Windows explorer method.

  • Requires root (needed for CIFS implementation on android). Alternatively if not root, then its better to create a shared folder on windows then access it from android with a suitable file explorer, you can still perform file operations.

Setup involves setting the desired share from the device. See screenshot:

Sambadroid setup

Note: NO affiliation with the above aplication

Switch on your mobile hotspot and allow your PC to connect to the network.

Once done just type [Win]+[R] in your computer, write \\SAMBADROID or go to PC >> Network and you will see a new share, see below:

Samba share


The samba share will look like this:

Samba folder navigation


You can perform various functions like delete, copy etc. See below:

Samba file ops

Hope this helps.

5
  • 1
    @ADTC Do you think there's a way to use Samba (it's often faster than FTP, especially when lots of small files) without root?
    – Basj
    Dec 3 '20 at 9:37
  • 1
    Do you know @xavier_fakerat if there is a solution with Samba without root?
    – Basj
    Dec 3 '20 at 9:37
  • Yes, Lan drive. See: android.stackexchange.com/a/206337/209414 Dec 6 '20 at 14:09
  • Good news @xavier_fakerat! Can you include your answer here to include a a short note about this + this link? I'll try this port forwarding trick.
    – Basj
    Dec 6 '20 at 15:58
  • Ps : I see someone commented that it only works for internal storage. Have you been able to use LAN drive with external sd card, in read/write ?
    – Basj
    Dec 6 '20 at 15:59
2

Summary of attempts, thanks to the other answers and my own tests:

  • Using a Samba server on phone (with app Sambadroid for example) looks great, but sadly it requires root for reasons explained in Using SMB server without root access, so it's not an option for me.

  • Using a FTP server (for example with cx File Explorer app) works great, but it's a bit slow if you have lots of files (even just getting the list of thousands of remote files via FTP is slow), and any FTP client on computer.

  • Use a SFTP server (with SSH/SFTP Server app), and then connect it from any SFTP client on computer (such as WinSCP), or rclone for synchronization (rsync won't work since it requires a rsync binary running on remote if I remember correctly).

0

Yes, there is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SSHFS You need an SSH server on your smartphone and an SSHFS client on your PC

It also works on Windows:

https://igikorn.com/sshfs-windows-10/

2
  • I don't think it fits the to browse the phone's filesystem as if it was a computer local folder. Or, if possible, can you give an example of configuration (what kind of client on Windows, etc., what SSH server, etc.)
    – Basj
    Mar 20 '17 at 19:38
  • which SSH server would you recommend for Android? Is there a solution that does not require root? (my phone is unrooted)
    – Basj
    Dec 3 '20 at 9:40

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