How can I access Windows shares from a Android device through wireless network?

I want to open PDF documents from a windows server 2008, add comments, mark them up and then save the changes back. Whats the best way to achieve this?

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    I don't think that this is possible without a third-party app - I believe ES File Explorer, for example, can access Windows shared directories. Is there any reason why you're not using something like Dropbox or Google Drive for this? – dotVezz Oct 21 '13 at 13:16
  • There's a tutorial to do this with ES File Explorer on XDA Developers: forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1896999 . I'm not sure if you want a third-party app or if you want a native solution, so I'll just leave this as a comment for now. – dotVezz Oct 21 '13 at 13:20
  • I dont mind 3rd party app or native. Just a solution. I don't want cloud based solution as it the data is stored outside our companies network (could be sensitive information). – resolver101 Oct 21 '13 at 14:13
  • I haven't been able to get the ES file explorer to connect to our file server. Does ES file explorer open the files directly on the server share or does it make a local copy? If it makes a local copy, will it save the changes back to the server share? – resolver101 Oct 21 '13 at 14:18
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    On second thought, I may have spoken too soon about it working the same as a Windows PC. As @Izzy points out, ESFE itself is not editing the files, but another separate app is. I can't test it now, but I think that after ESFE exports a file to another app, a separate temp file is created. You would then need to move the newly created file back onto the share (Using ESFE). I'll go ahead and make an answer with the information we know now - and I'll edit it with more details in about 2 hours (after some testing) – dotVezz Oct 21 '13 at 14:39

Barring mounting the share as a filesystem on a rooted device, I don't believe this is possible without a third-party app. You can use ES File Explorer to connect to the remote directory. There is a detailed how-to on the XDA Developers forum, which also includes the steps for sharing the directories from various versions of windows.

Since you already have the Windows shared folders working, here are the steps for ES File Explorer from the afforementioned XDA Developers thread and detailed in these screenshots from the thread.

  1. Open ES File Explorer
  2. Tap "LAN" option (Assuming you're connecting to a server on your LAN) to enter the "LAN Shares" section of ESFE.
  3. Tap the "New" button to add a server.
  4. Tap the "Server" option.
  5. Enter your server's information, including the username and password you intend to use (Make sure you use an account that has the access you need).
  6. Tap the newly created server in the LAN Shares area to get to the shared folders on that server.

Editing files on your Android device will be a little tricky. ES File Explorer is the only app which can actually manipulate files over the network. If you open the file in another app, then ESFE will export the file to the app and another file will be created. You will need to move the file back to the share, using ES File Explorer, in order to update it on the server.

I use ES File Explorer as an example. There are probably other apps with similar functionality.

  • I will open the file using FoxIt editor. I need the changes made in foxit to save to the server share. Would a file syncing software be a better choice of programs? – resolver101 Oct 21 '13 at 15:10
  • File sync software would very possibly be a better way to go. It would definitely be simpler. – dotVezz Oct 21 '13 at 15:48
  • I'd also lean toward Izzy's answer as a better option. – dotVezz Oct 21 '13 at 17:14

As you explicitly asked for the "alternative solution" (as said, there is no native variant I know of – but mounting the remote drive to your Android device makes it available almost like local storage, so you could edit files directly), here are some hints on that. Not however, that all these solutions require root access on the device.

The playstore holds apps like CifsManager and Mount Manager. I have not tried either of them, so all below is only deduced from their playstore description:

CifsManager should be easier to use, as its only requirement is root access – while Mount Manager notes special requirements regarding the kernel. Both support Cifs (or Samba, which is the protocol used for Windows shares). So you can use them to directly connect ("mount") your Windows shares to your Android device, where they should become visible as separate folders (again, you can configure the location). As the system then handles them as it would any local "drive", you can directly edit your PDF (or other) files – and when you save your edits, they should be directly stored back on your Windows share.

  • This is definitely a more user-friendly approach than my answer! – dotVezz Oct 21 '13 at 17:14
  • Once set up, yes. But that might be the most tricky part ;) Problem could also be that the user needs to manually mount/unmount. Forgetting the latter might cause data loss (if it's still buffered and not completely written to disk), while in case of ESFE you still have the file you copied in case the connection drops. Both ways clearly have their pros and cons. – Izzy Oct 21 '13 at 17:34
  • Ah, I hadn't considered the need to unmount. The chance of that being a problem is low, but definitely present. – dotVezz Oct 21 '13 at 17:39
  • Having trouble with setup. I've rooted my phone and installed CIFS and receiving "mounting the share has failed with an error. Mount: No such device. I'm still looking for a solution whether its this way or another – resolver101 Oct 25 '13 at 11:17
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    I'd say that current problem is a separate question (please specify in detail which app you used and what steps you took). I'm not using any of those apps myself; all I can say is these possibilities exist, but I cannot give "full support" for the apps themselves, sorry ;) – Izzy Oct 25 '13 at 12:52

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