Saturday, February 14, 2015

Accessing data from a PC over the network with an Android device–is a walk in the park!

The reason I bought a Windows 8 based tablet was because I thought that it would be the easiest to access data from my desktop PC, the place where I store all my data. If I went with the iPad, I would need to have an application running on the desktop which acts as the server and a corresponding client on the iPad. That might have changed by now because I bought the first tablet 2 years ago.

Now that I have an Android device with me finally, I wanted to see if there was a method to access content on the desktop from it. Apparently, there is. You don't even have to install any servers either. However since Android doesn't ship with a file browser, you need to grab one from the Google Play Store. Not just any file browser though. One that's specifically capable of accessing data from a network location.

Before today, I had a file browser installed for the sake of it but it could only browse the local storage. The name of the app was called Cabinet. While it was pretty looking as the developers have adhered to the Material Design guidelines, I had to look for something else. A Google search revealed an app called ES File Browser to me, and it indeed could do what I wanted to do: access the content on my desktop PC.

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The app showing the Desktop PC on the network.

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Browsing the shared folders

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File open behaviour

Many common file types open up automatically, but for others, it will show up a list of apps or actions associated. You can set the default action for those file types so that the app won’t prompt you every time, however I’m unsure if it can be reset at all.

I should confess that I have disabled password protected sharing for the files on the desktop, so anyone can access them. What would happen if it was enabled, is unknown to me. I should also say that I was pleasantly surprised by the responsiveness of the app. Browsing and opening files was very fast.

Guess it is the times to dump this Windows tablet and get a Nexus 9, because it is much easier to use.

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