How To Send Files To Your Mobile Devices (Efficiently & Privately)

by Grey One •

What are the fastest and most reliable ways to move files from your computers to your mobile devices? Here are my top three picks:

1. Use Sneakernet with SD Memory Cards

This method works for: Linux, Mac, Windows, Android devices and Windows Phones. Not for iPad/iPhone.

Use the Sneakernet! Here’s how to do it — you copy files onto a memory card, sneak over to your mobile device, and insert the memory card into your device. It’s the fastest way I know to copy a 10GB HD movie to a tablet computer, for example. You can buy 64GB micro cards and 256GB regular SD cards, if you need transfer space (see my article Storing Large Video and Music Files On Android for more details).

Unfortunately, iPhones and iPads don’t read memory cards, so there’s no sneakernet there.

If you are lucky enough to have new computer with a built-in SD card reader or USB 3.0, your sneakernet will be faster.

2. Use Dropbox together with DropSync

This method works on Linux, Mac, Windows, Android devices, and Windows Phones. iPad and iPhone support is not complete.

Most of you know about Dropbox already. It’s very reliable, and it copies files between devices fairly seamlessly. Dropbox is also smart, because if your devices are the same local network, it will do a local file copy instead making you wait for your files to be transferred to the cloud.

On Android, you can make Dropbox work like the desktop version (i.e. will full folding sync capabilities) by installing the DropSync application.

3. For Private File Transfers: TrueCrypt with Dropbox

This method works for Android, iPhone/iPad, Linux, Mac, Windows, Windows RT.

Dropbox does have one flaw — it doesn’t encrypt your files before they leave your computer. This means your files are insecurely stored on Dropbox’s servers. However, if you need private file transfers, you can roll your own encryption using TrueCrypt. This freeware application can be used to create an encrypted volume on Dropbox. On Android, you can open Truecrypt containers using an app called EDS. You will have to use a particular type of format to get the EDS to open your containers. Here are the container settings you must use:

  • Encryption algorithm: AES 256
  • Hash algorithm: SHA-512
  • File system: FAT

I also tested BoxCryptor, which attempts encrypt files inside Dropbox, but right now has too many bugs for me to recommend. Applications like SpiderOak and Bitcasa are folder synchronization apps with encryption built-in, but they are not available for all platforms and tend to be unreliable. Likewise, Bittorrent Sync looks very promising, but it is only available for newer Macs and Windows.

And here’s a bonus method:

Local Media Streaming

Works for: Linux, Mac, Windows, Android, iPhone/iPad, Windows Phones

Perhaps you just want to stream videos and music across your devices, then consider Plex which does a pretty cool job of that. See my previous article for more details.

Comments 1

  1. My mobile phone is just a really basic brick, it’s not even a smart phone. All I have do is plug it into the computer and Windows sees it as a USB drive. You open it up in My Computer and drag and drop files to or from the phone. There are a group of ready-made folders for various things like pictures, etc.

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