Having an FTP server available, whether it’s one associated with your web hosting account, or a standalone server you’ve set up at home, is a nice convenience. When people started getting excited about “cloud” apps like DropBox or SkyDrive, I couldn’t help but wonder how different it all really is from simply having an FTP server available. The only difference is that those services make it a point-and-click operation – simple enough for everyday computer users to make use of. FTP usually requires that extra step of running some kind of client app, and remotely logging into the FTP server before you can start uploading or downloading files.
In the early days of FTP, the FTP process was command-based, making it far more “geeky” in nature. Today, if you’re running a client like FileZilla, then FTP is about as simple as using Windows Explorer. Whether it’s an Android, an iPhone or a Blackberry, they are portable computers that you can use to do just about anything you might imagine. One thing in particular that most users like to have is a direct link between a computer and their smartphone. Yes, you could just plug in your USB cable and transfer files via USB – but where’s the fun in messing with wires? Instead, why not install FTP Droid and turn your Android phone into a virtual “cloud” drive no matter where you are?
When you install and launch FTP Droid on your Android phone, it immediately launches an FTP server using your phone’s current IP address and port 21. The nice thing about this is that if you are on your cellular data plan rather than a Wi-Fi network, the software will simply use whatever current IP address your phone has been provided. You’ll need to make sure that “Require a Wi-Fi Connection” isn’t enabled in the settings. Once the software is running, you’re almost done. You’ll need to set up user accounts by clicking on Menu and tapping “Manage Users“.
Create the name and password for the account. If you want to use unique directories for each user, make sure to create the directory on your SD card, then tap “Show advanced options” and type the directory path in the “Home” field.
The Settings area reveals just how flexible this Android FTP server software is. You can launch it when your phone starts, require Wi-Fi, change the FTP port used, and configure anonymous settings.
Here’s what it looked like when connecting with FileZilla.
As you can see, it’s as simple as using Windows Explorer. You can drill down into the directories of your SD card and do anything you want with the files. Obviously, opening up the entire SD card probably wasn’t very smart. Ideally, you’ll configure a subdirectory per user, and the FTP user will be limited to just that directory, not the entire SD card. If you want to transfer a whole bulk of files from your Android phone to your local PC, just highlight them all and click Download. Keep in mind that you can do this from anywhere – a library computer, from work or at school – even if your phone is sitting at home on your night stand.
This setup lets you get files off your Android phone from anywhere, and of course, the flip side is you can also upload files from whatever computer you’re on to your Android phone. With FileZilla, this is just a matter of right clicking the local file and clicking on “Upload“. Instant transfer to your phone, and you’re done. Essentially, you’ve just turned your smartphone into a “cloud” drive that you can access from wherever you have access to a PC with an FTP client.
Back home on the Droid, the phone will keep a track of all FTP activity under the log. Just tap on “Log” at the bottom of the main screen to see a list of all FTP events with an incoming IP address.
Transferring files to and from your phone from any computer is pretty cool, but once you have FTP Droid enabled on your phone, it opens up a whole other world of possibilities. Just search through MUO for cool things you can do once you have an FTP server set up like this, and you’ll see that the sky is the limit. Map your FTP drive (your phone) as a local drive using NetDrive, use Fling FTP to auto-backup data to your Android SD card, or how about setting up motion sensor webcams and having the captured images FTP’d directly to your SD card? Running an FTP server on your Android phone can really give it new life and purpose.