Transferring data between your Android device and your computer in 2021
Ever since its major release in the smartphone market in September 2008, Android phones have continued to grow in popularity. Currently, Android has a market share of 75%, with over 2.8 billion active users worldwide.
Since the beginning, one of the most important features of an android phone is its ability to connect with other devices, including computers or peripheral devices or even other smartphones, and exchange or transfer data with them.
In this article, we shall be exploring the first topic of the list – connecting your android device to your computer and transferring data from it. We will look at computers running the three most common operating systems, namely Windows, macOS, & Linux.
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Table of Contents
- Windows computers for android file transfer
- Mac and Android
- Transfer files from Android to Linux
- Wireless data transfer
Every android phone comes with a USB cable, be it a micro-USB or a type-C cable. It is always a default accessory with a new android phone. A USB cable is especially useful for data transfer as it does not require any additional software or an internet connection.
Note: The lack of additional software is for the newer versions of Android and Windows. For older versions of Windows or Android, you might require the installation of additional drivers for USB data transfer.
- After connecting your phone to your Windows PC, you will receive a pop up ‘Use USB for’ on which you should select ‘File Transfer/Android Auto’
- On older phones, instead of the use USB for, there will be a notification for ‘Allow access’ where you should select the ‘Allow’ option after ensuring preferences is set to ‘File Transfer’
- You will now receive a new dialog box on your computer – ‘What do you want to do with the new device’
- Select the option ‘View device and open files’
- If you didn’t see the dialog box in step 3, simply open ‘This PC’ on your computer and select the drive corresponding to your android device
- Now you can backup data from your phone to your PC or add new data from your PC to your android phone
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Yet another basic method for data transfer that does not require any additional software installation or even an internet connection. However, there are 3 main requirements for this method:
- A micro-SD card in your android phone that stores all data
- A micro-SD to SD card adapter
- An SD card slot on your computer or an SD card to USB adapter
Now, simply go to storage settings on your android phone, and select the SD card option. Look for an option at the bottom of the menu named ‘Eject card’ and select it which is required for the safe removal of the micro-SD card.
- Remove the micro-SD card from your android phone
- Insert the micro-SD card into a micro-SD to SD card adapter
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- Insert this SD card into your PC if it has a dedicated slot for the SD card. If not, go to step 4
- Alternatively, use an SD card to USB adapter to plug in the SD card to your PC
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- You will now be able to access all data stored by your phone on the micro-SD card, back it up, or even add to it using your Windows PC
The only downside to this method is that not a lot of people use micro-SD cards with the newer android phones since the phones already support quite a large internal storage.
While data transfer between an android and a Mac computer is not as easy as with a Windows computer, it isn’t impossible. Apple has done this mostly to encourage its Mac users to use an iPhone rather than an android, but I digress.
To transfer data and files from an android phone to a Mac computer, you need an application called 'Android File Transfer’ installed on your computer as well as the USB charging cable that came with your phone. The steps are as follows:
- Download and install the Android File Transfer application on your Mac computer
- Drag and drop the android file transfer app into the Applications folder in the Mac finder pop up
- Now, connect your android device to your computer using the USB cable
- On your phone, a pop up ‘Use USB for’ will appear & choose ‘File Transfer/Android Auto’ from the list
- Open the android file transfer application on your Mac computer
- You can now browse the various folders, files, and data that you require from your android phone
- Drag and drop these required files or folders to your desktop to copy them onto your computer or vice-versa
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Even though this method sounds quite easy, from personal experience, I can tell you that it is quite tedious and does not work properly every now and again.
- Step 1: The GNOME extension
- Step 2: Connect the Android to Linux
- Step 3: KDE Connect
- Step 4: Connecting the devices
- Step 5: Data Transfer
To transfer files from your android phone to your computer running on Linux, we need a few additional software configurations to be made. Of all the 3 operating systems we looked at, data transfer with Linux is the most complicated to set up.
The basic requirements are:
- The GNOME Linux desktop environment running on your computer
- An app called KDE Connect on your android phone
- Your phone’s USB cable
With this information sorted out, let's begin with the android-Linux data transfer setup.
- Open a terminal in your Linux and enter the following command
sudo apt install chrome-gnome-shell
- Next, we need to install the GSConnect extension for GNOME, and for this, visit the GSConnect GNOME Shell Extension page
- Click on the option ‘Click here to install browser extension’ and complete the browser plugin installation
- If the extension is turned off by default, meaning that the slider on the extension page is at the 'Off’ position, change it to the ‘On’ position
- Next, towards the bottom of the page, select the right version of the application and the extension and when prompted, select ‘Install', which completes the installation.
- Connect the android phone to your computer using the USB cable
- In your system tray, select the drop-down entry labelled 'Mobile Devices’
- In the expanded options, select 'Mobile Settings’
- Finally, your mobile device will appear in the GSConnect window
- On your android phone, open the Google Playstore
- Search for the app called ‘KDE Connect’
- Once you find the app click on ‘Install’
- Now, once both the GSConnect and KDE Connect have been installed, open the latter and tap the GSConnect
- Next, tap on the ‘Request Pairing’ option
- A pop-up will appear on your Linux computer, and press 'Accept’ to pair the devices. This step is quite similar to how you would pair two Bluetooth devices
- Finally, in the KDE Connect, tap the option ‘Filesystem Expose’ and then ‘OK’, and finally select ‘Share and Receive’ followed by ‘OK’ to finish the setup
- To send files to the computer, you simply need to select the ‘Send Files’ option in the KDE Connect application and select whatever files you want to send in the android file manager.
- To receive files from the computer to the android device, right-click whatever file you need to send and select the 'Send to Mobile Device' option, followed by selecting your device name
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- All files transferred between the devices will be available in the ‘Downloads’ folder of the respective device
- Android FTP
The methods of data transfer mentioned in this section are mainly all wireless, meaning they don’t require any additional cables or other hardware to function. Being wireless, they can also work in all three of the operating systems mentioned in the previous sections.
File Transfer Protocol or FTP is a communication protocol that allows a user to set up a server and share files with clients connecting to it.
For your android device, you can use an Android File Manager to work as an FTP server and use your computer as a client accessing it. For this, we have a few pre-requisites required:
- An Android file manager such as ES File Explorer or Amaze File Manager
- A computer with FTP capability or an FTP client such as Filezilla
- A working Wi-Fi connection
Once you have these installed and available to use, follow the below steps to set up an FTP server and transfer data:
- Connect your android phone to the same Wi-Fi or network as your computer
- Next, open the android file manager on your phone
- In the file manager menu, select the option for FTP and click on the start
- Once the FTP server starts running, it will give you a URL or an IP address
- Now, open your Filezilla client, use the IP address on your phone as Host address, and enter the required details and click on Quickconnect
- Alternatively, if you are using Windows with FTP installed, you simply need to enter this IP address into the file explorer or web browser for the same
- This gives you access to the files and data on your phone, which you can use on your computer
Depending on the file manager, it will allow you to tweak various settings for the FTP server, including the port number used and various other protocols used.
This method is quite efficient and is only limited by the speed/bandwidth of the network that your devices are connected to.
Pushbullet is a Google-run data transfer application/service that runs on Android, Chrome, Firefox, and Windows. The app allows easy and fast cross-platform data transfer using your Gmail account.
Data transfer using the Pushbullet platform is quite simple and does not require any additional configuration. The steps to set up Pushbullet in your devices is as follows:
- Go to Google Playstore on your android phone
- Search for Pushbullet and install it
- Next, install the secondary Pushbullet app either on your Windows PC or if using Linux or Mac, install it as a plugin for your Chrome/Firefox browser
- Login to all the Pushbullet applications with a single Google account to finish the Pushbullet setup
- To send data from Android to your computer, simply select the files to send and click on the share
- Select the Pushbullet option from the share options and then pick the device you would like to send the files to
- On the other hand, if you need to send a file from your computer to your android phone, simply open the application or plugin and select your android device from the list
- Next, attach the required files and simply press Send
AirDroid is a quite different application compared to the others on this list and allows you to remotely use your android phone. The application allows you to connect directly to the phone via a common Wi-Fi connection and transfer data.
To begin using AirDroid, follow the following steps:
- First, ensure that your android device and your computer are using the same Wi-Fi connection or network
- Next, open the Google Playstore on your android device and install the AirDroid app
- Open the app and allow the permissions that it requests
- The AirDroid app gives you an option to log in by scanning a QR code or by simply using a given IP address
- Now, on your computer, open your web browser and enter the IP address in the AirDroid app on your phone
- Press enter, and the browser will load a new interface connecting to your android phone
- Here, you can simply select what files you require and click the download button to save them on your computer
The following infographics can help you to understand the process of transferring files between different operating systems and Android devices. You can use it as a quick reminder or a facts collection.
Transferring data from an android device to a computer can be quite challenging without the right tools.
In this article, we looked at data transfer between an android device and 3 main operating systems, namely – Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Is it secure or not? Sound like a great idea for the next article. Let me know what do you think about it.