Android works well with networks. It also makes it easy to connect to various services on your company network... including your storage. Of course, nearly every major NAS manufacturer offers an app for its devices, but what about those who are looking for a more generic (or in-house) solution? Fortunately, Android has plenty of tools for that as well.
I did some digging and testing and found five of the handier storage and even NAS-ready tools available for the Android platform. With these you should be able to connect to a number of storage solutions from Windows shares, Samba shares, WebDAV, FTP, and NAS—and even keep your NAS awake.
If you happen to have a specific NAS on your network, your best bet is to go with the solution offered by the company that sold you the device. But if the company doesn't have an app for its NAS, one of these solutions could be just what you need.
Note: This article is also available as an image gallery and a video hosted by TechRepublic columnist Tom Merritt.
1: ES File Explorer (File Manager)
ES File Explorer (Figure A) is an Android file manager that allows you to connect to network shares easily (and without having to add a plug-in or third-party software). It can connect to SMB shares, as an FTP client, and to WebDAV services. As a bonus, ES File Explorer has built-in cloud storage management for Google Drive, Dropbox, Box.net, Sugarsync, OneDrive, Amazon S3, and more.
Of all the Android file managers, ES File Explorer offers the most user-friendly interface. From the Fast Access sidebar, you can quickly access your network shares with a couple of taps.
AndSMB (Figure B) is a native Android Samba client that makes it simple to connect to your network SMB shares. Once connected you can easily download files, send files to printers, create folders, upload to the share, and much more. Creating a connection to a share does require you to know the hostname of the share and (if needed) a username/password to authenticate.
AndSMB includes anonymous access to make connecting easier (if anonymous access is applicable to your share).
3: Network Browser
Network Browser (Figure C) lets you locate and connect to any Windows or Samba (both Linux and Mac OS X) share on your network. With two easy connection tools, Network Browser makes the process of connecting to your network with just an IP address.
Once connected you can download/upload files and even pin remote folders to your homescreen for quick access. Network Browser also now supports streaming of music and movies. (The current release supports only MP3 and Mp4 file formats.)
4: NAS Wake On LAN
NAS Wake On LAN (Figure D) allows you to run a service to send a magic wakeup packet to your NAS. Once it's installed, just enable the service, enter an IP and MAC addresses for your NAS, set the timer (from 10 sec to 1 hour), and configure the port. When you have this configured, so long as your Android device is on the same network as the NAS, the wakeup packet will be sent to the NAS to keep it awake.
If you have a NAS that is having trouble staying awake, this could be a temporary solution until the device is fixed.
5: Upload 2 NAS Lite
Upload 2 NAS Lite (Figure E) is a simple Android application for setting up auto uploads from your mobile device to an FTP-enabled NAS. The application was originally created to auto-upload images taken from a device camera. You can now include secondary directories to upload from, so you can upload just about anything to your FTP-enabled NAS.
The setup is a bit cumbersome, but once you have that done, it works like a champion. You can set up this app to auto-upload at specified times or you can upload manually by tapping the Upload Now button.
Whether you use Windows Shares, Samba Shares, FTP, WebDAV, or a proprietary NAS solution, one of these apps will get you connected—and even keep you connected.
Do you have other suggestions for helpful Android networking tools? Share your recommendations with fellow TechRepublic members.
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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 jackwallen.com.