WiFi File Explorer is a nifty piece of software that allows you to remotely manage your phone’s pictures, music, videos and so forth over a wireless network from your computer. The purpose of the application is to save you the hassle of taking memory cards out of your phone, or plugging cables into your computer. Why should you have to bother with that when there is a bit of software that does it without hassle?
How It Works
I should say that I am reviewing the free, non-‘pro’, version of this application. The Pro version offers no advertisements within the application, as well as giving the ability to upload data to and delete data from your phone. The free version has adverts and only permits the downloading of data from your phone to your computer.
The underlying operations of WiFi File Explorer are simplistic, yet very clever. Launching the program will start a daemon process on your phone which listens for incoming connections on a pre-defined network port which it opens up for transfers. Once the application is started and the daemon begins running, you can type the network address of the phone (which appears in a popup).
Like all other applications, you can put the WiFi File Explorer icon on your Homescreen. So for a fast launch, tap the icon, then quickly press the home button. The daemon should keep running in the background!
Pressing the Back button on your phone will kill the service and close the application. However if you plan on using this application for an extended period of time and want to keep using your phone as you normally would, pressing the Home button will hide the application window and keep the daemon operating in the background, reminding you by way of a little icon in your ongoing apps bar.
After you are done using the service just open WiFi File Explorer again, either through the Menu icon, or by tapping the running task in the drop-down notification window. Once it’s back on screen, just tap the Back button instead of the Home button this time. This will neatly terminate the background daemon and overall program.
Whilst the daemon service is in operation your phone will provide, and behave like, a mini-file-server, to which your computer’s web browser can connect. So if I want to connect to my phone, I type the address given to me by WiFi File Explorer (192.168.1.5:8000) into my desktop browser’s address bar. Then I just press enter and the simple file-management interface loads into my browser. From here I can view and download my phone’s files through a simplistic button and checkbox interface. Clever, isn’t it?
A concern I have is that running similar applications that permit remote access can often use the same port numbers or control a wide range, e.g 7950 to 8050, which includes the default WFE sharing port. Attempting to run WiFi File Explorer alongside such other applications could lead to undesired behaviour or poor service. So it may be an idea to look up which ports some of your other sharing programs use to ensure there would be no conflicts. Hopefully Android has built-in capabilities to alert applications that they are sharing ports, but better safe than sorry.
The best thing to do would be to enter the settings menu in WiFi File Explorer, this allows you to change the port number through which the data is transferred. So if you are worried about conflicts, just change the port to something unusual. I recommend you check this Wikipedia article on port listings and details to help avoid any conflict with anything on your network.
Usability, and What You Gain
Getting used to the application is very easy and takes a minute at most, which is fantastic! The interface is so minimalist and everything is handled for you, so there really is nothing you need to learn. It is as simple as click, load, enjoy!
WiFi File Explorer could aid your day-to-day practicality greatly, especially if you regularly change files on your phone. It saves you time and effort in having to yank out an SD card or link up cables. You may share my loathing of taking the USB cable out of the wall adapter and putting in the computer; being able to tap an icon on my home screen is far more convenient. Plus it means I don’t increase the chances of damaging my cables and sockets through repetitive use.
If you are thinking “Oh this application sounds handy!”, but are worrying about using the application in a public area, or on shared WiFi: don’t worry! The Settings menu of WiFi File Explorer allows you to enable and assign a password to your phone’s file sharing service, thereby preventing undesired access by other people. It is highly unlikely people would seek to get into your phone, or indeed would go to the trouble of guessing your IP, but hey, extra security can’t hurt! It is simple and handled very well too, as shown in these screen captures.
Comparison to Similar Applications
The idea of using WiFi File Explorer to access the storage of a mobile device is by no means a new idea. It has been available on iOS devices for some time now, and the arrival of the concept on Android is hardly recent either. I have seen and used these similar applications in the past, both for Android and for the iOS system. However I have found WiFi File Explorer to trump all of them. There are two main reasons this application beats the competition and is, in my opinion, the best.
First is the setup speed. This application is ready from the word go. As soon as it is downloaded you can run it and begin transferring files. Essentially, there is zero setup required. This is not the case with other applications, which mandate that you register or somehow notify the developers that you are using it. I have even seen some that requested details of your home network and other active computers, which is completely unnecessary, as WiFi File Explorer demonstrates.
The second reason is ease of use. As I just mentioned, getting this thing running requires no effort, and interacting with the running program doesn’t either. It chugs away quite happily on your phone, doing its job without any announcements or disturbances. The browser interface that it provides for you is simplistic, yes — but the simplicity makes it easy to use. Besides, more eye-candy means more data, and that means more time taken to send it to your computer.
The free version of WiFi File Explorer only permits the reading and saving of data from your phone to your computer, and regrettably not uploading, deleting, or renaming any. The full version costs $1.62 (£0.99). This gets you no adverts, and the ability to upload and delete files. If you enjoy the free version, its an inexpensive transition to the full version, which gives you total remote management.
To conclude this review, I have found WiFi File Explorer to be a thoroughly useful and well-built application. It is easy to set up and use, and does as claimed. I give it 9/10! The final mark is lost due to the free version not allowing you to upload files to your device. Apart from this set-back, I love the idea and convenience provided by this application. If you think you like the idea of WiFi File Explorer, and suspect it may be of some use to you. I am adamant that you should go ahead and try it!