Exploring Android Device Cloud Storage And Synchronization Options For Data Backup. – When you think of your smartphone, apps and interfaces are probably the first thing that comes to mind. But, beneath that surface-level stuff, our modern mobile devices are packed with files—folder upon folder! – just like the old clunky computers we’ve relied on for so long.
We may not come face to face with our phone’s file system very often, but it’s important to know it’s there – and to know how it can work for us when we need it. After all, your Android device is a productivity powerhouse. It can organize everything from PDFs and PSDs to presentations and podcasts. It can even be a portable hard drive and store all kinds of important files you might need in your pocket (and not just in a distant cloud). Your mobile devices can carry a lot of data, and there may come a time when you want to dig deep and deal with it directly.
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Here’s everything you need to know to understand and harness the power of your phone’s file management.
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You might not realize it at first glance, but Android lets you access a device’s entire file system—even from the device itself.
The operating system has had its own native file manager since the release of Android 6.0 Marshmallow in 2015, and what was initially an experimental effort has grown into a capable tool for basic data manipulation . With Android 6.0 to 7.1, the file manager at the system level was somewhat hidden: you had to look in the Storage section of your system settings, then scroll down and tap the line called “Search” to find it.
Meanwhile, when Google Android 8.0 Oreo was released, the file manager is in the Android Downloads app. All you have to do is open the app and select the “Show internal storage” option in its menu to browse your phone’s total internal storage. You can then open, move, rename, copy, delete and share files as needed.
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And if you have Android 9 or higher on your phone, things are even easier: In these latest versions of Android, the file manager is in its own Files app. Just open it to browse any area of your local storage or linked Drive account; You can use the file type icons at the top of the screen or, if you want to view the folder by folder, tap the three-dot menu icon in the upper right corner and select “Show storage a -in” – then triple tap –
The latest version of the system-level Files app lets you browse files in a variety of ways, including through the traditional folder-by-folder view.
If you don’t see the Files app on your phone, chances are you’re using a device from a manufacturer – like Samsung – that chose not to include these system-level Android elements in its software and provides its own elements. create other options (presumably for pushing its own cloud storage services and/or paid partner cloud storage services along with Google Drive). An app like this might be in a folder with the manufacturer’s name, in your app drawer, and it might be called My Files – or something similar. You may find the same basic file management functions in them, just with a slightly different interface and set of options.
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If you want to do more than just the most basic file management on your device, a third-party file manager is a good choice. You can find my latest recommendations for different needs in my separate collection of the best Android file manager apps.
One of the lesser known features of Android is its ability to connect to external storage devices such as USB memory sticks and even larger capacity portable hard drives. The phone just needs to support something called USB On-The-Go, or USB OTG, for the connection to work.
Several devices, including Google Pixel phones and many Samsung Galaxy products, offer such support. If you’re not sure if your phone has it, your best bet is to Google its name along with “USB OTG”; chances are, you’ll get the answer pretty quickly.
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As long as your device supports USB OTG, all you need is a USB-A to USB-C adapter like this one made by Amazon. (If you have an older device that doesn’t have USB-C, you’ll need a USB-A to micro-USB adapter; you can find many such options on Amazon or at almost any electronics retailer.) Use the adapter to connect an external drive to your phone, then look for a notification that confirms the drive is connected.
Tap the “Browse” option within the notification, and you’re done: Now you can browse and access all the files on your external drive.
Look for the notification that appears when an external drive is connected, and soon you’ll be scanning the drive’s contents.
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When you’re done, don’t forget to go back to the notification and tap “Eject” before removing the drive.
In addition to supporting an external hard disk, your Android phone can act as an external hard disk. Simply plug your device into any Windows, Mac, or Chrome OS computer, and you can access the entire file system and easily drag and drop files between it and your desktop.
With Windows or Chrome OS systems, it’s as easy as plug and play. With a Mac, you must first install a special program on your computer before a connection can be established.
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Do you want to transfer files between your Android phone and a computer (or another Android phone, iPhone, etc.) without the need for cables? Doesn’t matter.
Your most basic option is to use an intermediary – specifically, a cloud storage service like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Microsoft OneDrive. Simply upload the file to a folder within each app on your Android phone, then locate the folder within the same app on the recipient’s device (or vice versa).
However, you can get better at that – and make your life a lot easier as a result. If you’re moving between two Android devices in the same physical area, the Google Files app (which is confusing
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Just like the pre-installed Files app on many devices) get the job done with minimal work and fuss. Just install the app on both devices, tap the Share tab at the bottom, and then tap the Send or Receive button to set up the transfer. This app will automatically encrypt any data it sends.
In the same physical location – a useful tool worth considering is a multi-format app called Merge (which also has the ability to encrypt its transfers, although you’ll need to look into the app’s settings to enable the option enable that). Install the app on your Android device, then install the same app, the Chrome version, or the Windows 10 version on the other device you want to share files with. You can also access the service via the standard website on any desktop computer – for example if you are using a Mac and a browser other than Chrome.
Once you’ve logged into the app on both sides, you’re ready to start a hassle-free file transfer in either direction. On Android, just share a file from any app—a file manager, image gallery, or any other resource that uses files—and choose Join as a destination. The file will appear on your desktop in seconds.
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Meanwhile, on a computer, sending files is as easy as opening the Join app or extension, selecting your phone as the receiving device, and then dragging the file to into the window.
Place the file into Merge on your desktop (left), and it will appear on your Android device a second later (right).
Merge has many other functions – including the ability to send “Note to self” style calls from your computer to your phone and even enter text from your computer directly to your phone’s clipboard – but even if you’re just using it for wireless file transfers, it’s worth using. The app comes with a one-month free trial (ad-supported) and then requires a one-time purchase of $5 if you want to continue using it.
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You might like to keep some files locally on your Android phone, but you also want them backed up and stored on your computer. The best of both worlds, right?
Believe it or not, this is very easy to do. Just take an Android app called AutoSync, which is available for use with Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox, and Box. It allows you to create pairs between local folders on your phone and cloud-based folders – for free with one pair of folders and files less than 10MB or for a one-time payment of $5 with no real limits.
Install the appropriate desktop app for your favorite service, make sure it’s ready to sync with your computer’s hard drive – and there you go: Your Android device kit is now effectively as part of your PC.
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