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Five tips for sharing data from your mobile device

When your users need help moving data from a phone or tablet to a PC, one of these approaches should do the trick.

Phones and tablets are starting to play a much bigger role in the world of IT. As this happens, users need easy, reliable ways to have their mobile devices interact and share with their PCs. Let's take a look at five tips for making this data transfer a smooth and painless process.

1: Take advantage of Bluetooth

Most mobile devices offer the ability to easily share data via Bluetooth. Problem is, many computers do not offer Bluetooth compatibility. If you are one of the lucky ones, and your machine has Bluetooth connectivity, happy sharing. For those without the hardware, it is possible to purchase either a card or USB Bluetooth device (such as this IOGEAR Micro Adapter) that will allow you to share those files. This might well be the easiest method for sharing data between your mobile and your PC. For the Android platform, you will find Bluetooth options in Wireless and Network | Bluetooth settings. In that menu, you can tap Scan Devices to auto-discover any other Bluetooth devices to connect with.

2: Use SMB

Samba is the be-all, do-all for file sharing. And there are plenty of applications out there to enable your mobile to share data between your mobile device and a machine running Samba. One of my favorites is AndSMB. Any of these applications makes the process of sharing incredibly simple. The challenge lies in setting up Samba. Not that there are any special configuration options necessary for sharing with your mobile, but most users won't know where to begin to set up an SMB shared directory. If you're in that boat, it is always possible to contact your IT department to see if they can hook you up.

3: FTP it

A protocol that end users may find a bit easier to use is FTP. Anyone can download the FileZilla Server and install it on their PC. With that installed, a simple FTP client can be installed on the mobile and data easily shared between the two. A problem with this method might occur if the company has a policy against setting up your own personal FTP server -- even if it is only for the sharing of files between mobile and PC. With the Android platform, you can turn the mobile device itself into an FTP server with apps like SwiFTP FTP Server.

4: Use Mass Media Storage

Some phones (especially Android) offer mass media storage when connected to USB. This means your phone simply acts as an external mass media device. When this option is available, all you have to do is plug your phone in, open up your file manager, and move files back and forth as you see fit. Unfortunately, some phones don't offer this option. I have also noticed that if USB Debugging is turned on (Android), Mass Media Storage is not an option. So if you are having trouble getting your Android device recognized, make sure USB Debugging is turned off.

5: Try an SD card reader

Most Android phones have SD cards. You can pull those cards out, insert them into an SD card reader, insert the reader into a PC, and move files back and forth. This is a bit of a cumbersome method, because in most instances, the mobile device will have to be shut off and (in some cases) the battery removed to get to the card. But if this is the only method available to you, you'll just have to grin and bear it. Chances are, however, one of the above methods will be much easier and less invasive to your device.

Built-in apps

There are also applications built into your provider's Android platform that allow for sharing. Most of these applications share primarily multimedia files, so you'll need another option for sharing documents and the like. But at least one of the previous methods will enable you to quickly and easily share files between your mobile device and your desktop or laptop.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

7 comments
birumut
birumut

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chrisonline
chrisonline

@microbins - Dropbox *does* work on iPhone. @ddammer - Dropbox is *not* a Mac app, though it does work on Mac's, iPad and iPhone. It is cross-platform and is excellent on PC/laptop and Android. Files can be synced between different platforms as it is all through the central Dropbox server. Yet for some reason the writer of this article never mentioned it, nor has he commented on these posts since.

microbins
microbins

Like most other commentators, I think the cloud needs a mention and should feature in the list. Particulry as I note that suggestions 1 to 4 (AFAIK) will not work on the iPhone. (Bluetooth stack is limited and no external media slot) Of course for a bit of fun you could have mentioned NFC !

ddammer
ddammer

Just a thought, but did anyone think about 'drop box' or 'Mobile Me'? They are so easy a mindless persons could do either one. I know they are both Mac apps, but let's face it, Mac/iPad/iPhone/iPod rule the Market. Example, HP's tablet is now on sale for $99, a third of the value of the components!

chrisonline
chrisonline

This has to be the most obvious, not only for this purpose but many others. Free up to 2GB (and more if you refer friends). Surprised you have not even mentioned it! I use it between PC and Xoom tablet in preference to USB cable or Bluetooth!

technomom_z
technomom_z

You forgot the most obvious answer. Stick stuff in your favorite cloud and you'll have it from everywhere! Dropbox or Google work particularly well here.

grayknight
grayknight

I use skydrive, but why were none of these even mentioned?