Android devices and FTP servers

File transfer is what made the internet so useful. You have probably downloaded uncountable amounts of files, from the internet. Although you are downloading the file from the internet, the internet itself doesn’t actually host the files, those files you are downloading and uploading files to are hosted on servers, which is what we will be talking about today, and how you can take advantage of what’s known as FTP (File Transfer Protocol) with your Android device.

Note, to take advantage of this in the most user friendly way, you should use third party applications. There are tons of third party applications available for free, as well as paid versions on the Google Play Store that serve the purpose of connecting and using FTP servers on your android device, as well as provide a simple and user friendly interface.

The third party application we will be using today to demonstrate the abilities of connecting to an FTP server will be FTP Server Ultimate, as this is one of the most popular and user friendly applications to test how FTP servers perform. If this is your first time using an FTP Server, do not worry, FTP Server Ultimate is very easy to use, and I will be walking you through step by step on how to use this application effectively.

So first things first, head over to the Google Play Store and download the FTP Server Ultimate app. This app was developed by Ice Cold Apps and is free to install. When you open the app for the first time you should be greeted with an information message telling you the limitations of the free version of FTP Server Ultimate, and basic developer contact information. Just press continue, and you should land in in this blank interface with a subtle menu bar.

Using your Android phone as a FTP server

To begin, click on “Add” at the top right of the menu bar, and you should be prompted with an option to pick what server you wish to add, whether it be an FTP Server (which is what we will be doing today), SFTP Server, and a Dynamic DNS Updater. You don’t need to worry about the other 2 options available, just click on the first option, the FTP Server, and you should see a settings tab. Here, you can configure a number of settings, like the Server’s name for distinguishing, the port that you want the server to run on, enable logs, and so on.

At the top, I’m sure you may have noticed there are 2 tabs, one for settings, and one for Users. Go ahead and go to the Users tab. This is where you create users for people to use when they connect to your FTP Server. You can choose what directories and folders the user has access to. For example if you want a user that connects to your FTP server to only be able to access the Downloads portion of your device’s memory, then you would navigate to the “Browse Button” under Document Root, and navigate to the Folder that you want the user to be able to access and select the folder. There are also options for users to be able to “write” to your directory. Just check the box that says “Allow Write Access” and you will be good to go.

You can also choose a Username and a Password for this user, so go ahead and do that. Name it whatever you like and give it any password you wish, it’s up to you. As you may or may not have noticed, there is no save option. To save a user, just simply Hit the “Back” button on your device, and you should be prompt with a message if you want to save this user or not. Just click yes and your user will be saved. You should be able to see your new user that you have just created under the User tab.

Next, navigate back to your settings tab, and we will finish configuring our FTP server. Select any name you want to name your server (E.G. Test Server). Don’t worry much about the port, just use a port that isn’t already In use, or you could even generate random ports if you don’t feel like manually choosing one. I don’t recommend tampering with the check box settings beneath the port on the settings tab if you don’t know what you’re doing, so do your research as always.

Just like in the user tab, to save your server, just simply hit the back button and you will be prompt with a notification asking you if you want to save your server, just click yes, and your server should be saved. You are limited to 3 active servers at a time, no more than that in the free version of this app. If you decide to purchase the paid version, this limitation will be removed, and you are free to configure as many servers as you want running.

FTP server running on android device

If you wish to remove a server, simply click and hold the server that you want to delete, and click delete server, and it will be removed. To start up our brand new server, click the server that you want to start up, and click the Start/stop option. Users that are on the same Wireless network your server is on can now connect to your FTP server. Just have another Android device with FTP Server ultimate ready, and you should be able to scan for existing FTP Servers, and connect to specific users assigned to that server. The device connected to the specific user assigned to the server will of course be limited to file access, based on whatever limitations the person who configured the server allowed. People can also drop their own files into the directory, if the enable write to directory option is selected on the server’s user configuration tab.

You may have noticed the tab at the bottom of the screen. Drag the tab up while the server is active, and you will see all the activity and logs of whatever is happening on the server, whether someone has connected to the server, or timestamps, you can view almost all the activity that happens on the server.

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About Kenny Leung
Kenny currently lives in Buffalo, NY. Where he studies computer networking & programming. He has owned a number of Android phones including the Galaxy s3, Galaxy 3 mini, Galaxy s4 mini, LG optimus 3D, and the Oneplus one which he is currently using. Kenny will likely get the Oneplus two once it is released.

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