How to Access Windows Shared Folder and Files on an Android Phone over WiFi? That is the topic we are going to be see on this post. Windows has an inbuilt Network File Sharing feature which will allow the user to access shared folders and files on a Windows computer on another device which is connected to a network.
This is a very convenient way to access files on your computer or play movies or music on your computer from an Android Phone. The shared folder will act like an external storage for the phone. We have seen how AirDroid application can help us manage our phone from a remote computer very easily. In this case we are accessing folders or files on the computer on an Android phone without any Internet connection.
You can store your files on the Internet and then access the files on your phone, but it requires Internet connection. In this particular method you just need to be connected to the same Local Area Network(LAN) or WiFi network ( No Internet Connection required). Yah…All these years, you never even thought if something like this is possible?
Sharing Folders on Windows
First of all, let’s take care of What we have to do on our computer. On the computer, we have to share the folders and files that we need to be available on our phone. Once that is done, we need to make some changes to Windows sharing settings and we are done. Here we go!
Step 1a: Select the Folder you want to share and go to Right Click > Properties. You will be able to see a dialog box , Click on the Sharing tab. Click on Share button.
Step 1b: Or you can click on the Folder, select the Share option on the Menu bar. You can see the Share with option, Click on Specific people.
Step 2: You will now be able to see and Network access window like below. Click on the down arrow and select Everyone from the dropdown menu. Click on Add. This will add Everyone and you can see the Access Level they have. Read Access means users can only View the files and not make any changes.
Configure Advanced Sharing Settings on Windows
Once you have shared the folder, we have to check the Advanced Sharing settings to make sure Network Discovery and File Sharing options are turned on.
Control Panel > Network and Internet > Network and Sharing Center > Advanced sharing settings
This will bring you to the Advanced Sharing Settings page where you can Turn on Network Discovery and Turn on File and Printer Sharing options (See Image Below).
Once the options are checked, Click on the Save Changes button and allow the prompt the windows shows. We have successfully setup Shared Folder in Windows. Its time to get to our phone for the next part.
Samba Filesharing for Android
Now we have to access the folder which we just shared on our computer in an Android phone. This is made possible by a File Server Protocol called SMB. The shared folder will be acting as an extra storage for our phone. There is no need to copy movies to phone when we need to watch the movie on our phone, we can just stream it on our phone directly.
- Save time of copying files to phones.
- Stream Movie files located on your computer.
- Save storage space on your phone.
- No wires…no hassle.
- Simple setup.
SMB stands for Server Message Block which is a File Server Protocol. By using this protocol, users (clients) can access files available on the server. Users can directly access the files without having to copy it to the local storage.
SMB can also be used to make changes to the files on the server without caching (copying) the file to the client side. This means that no storage is used on the client side for SMB actions. We can also copy file to the local storage from the server. If you want to know more about SMB, head over to Wiki.
ES File Explorer is a hugely popular application that is being used by a lot of people. But nowadays the number of ads and added bloatwares ES brings with their app is annoying users. Many cool features that were previously available are now available only for Pro users.
Nevertheless ES file explorer is a complete File Management application for Android. You can access your computer files on your phone with the SMB option in the app. There are methods to actually remotely control your PC using a phone.
Step 1: Download and Install ES File Explorer app if you already don’t have it installed. Unfortunately, you will need to unlock the SMB functionality for Free or buy the pro package to access this feature.
Step 2: Open ES File Explorer. Click on the Menu icon and Select LAN from Network section.
Step 3: Once you are in the LAN page, click on the Scan icon to scan the Windows computers with shared folders.
Step 4: You will be able to see the name of the Windows computer. In my case, I can see my computer’s name ( Beast). Click on your computer to see the files.
Step 5: When you click on the computer icon, you will be able to see the Folders that you shared on the computer with some other folders like C$, E$ etc. Those folders are corresponding to the drives that you have on the computer. These folders cannot be accessed and we don’t need them.
You can see the folders that are shared. Clicking on the folders will show the files in the folder which is on your computer.
You have successfully shared and accessed the shared folder on your phone. You can now view the files, play movies and music etc on the phone without having to copy the files from the computer to the phone.
Similar to ES File Explorer you can Access Shared Windows folders using Solid File Explorer through SMB option. Solid Explorer also comes with a bunch of options, but you have to upgrade to premium to use features like SMB. Here are the steps you can follow to setup SMB connection in Solid File Explorer.
Step 1: Install Solid File Explorer on your phone (obviously…) if you don’t already have it installed.
Step 2: Click on the Plus icon on the bottom right to reveal the Add option. Click on the New Cloud Connection option from the list (see image below).
Step 3: This will take you to the Network Connection Wizard page were we have to select LAN/SMB option. There are a bunch of supported services that you could try in Solid Explorer.
Step 4: In the LAN/SMB option it will scan the network to show any Windows SMB server. In my case I can see my computer listed. Clicking on the Name will take you to the next step.
Step 5: You will be asked to either Login with a username or password or continue as a Guest. This is where we can login with the username and password of the computer, You don’t have to login because we have set Read permission for Everyone. You will not see the below screen if you choose Guest.
Step 6: Once everything is set up, you can see a Connect button. Click on the button to initiate the connection to the computer.
Step 7: Once the connection is successfully, you will see a Green Tick in place of the connect button. Click on Finish to see the folders of your computer on Android over WiFi. You can play videos or other media files directly.
The one issue with Solid Explorer is that the SMB option is part of their Premium offering. However they give you a 2 weeks trial period to test out all the premium features for Free.
Here is another File Manager which supports SMB option. FX File Explorer has a simple interface and is very easy to use. But like ES File Explorer and Solid Explorer, the SMB feature is not Free. In FX file explorer, only the premium version has the SMB option. You get a free Trail period during when you can use all the premium features for Free.
Step 1: Download and Install the FX File Explorer on your phone.
Step 2: Opt for the Free Trial of FX File Explorer Plus .
Step 3: Click on the Network option from Home.
Step 4: Click on Windows Host (SMB) option to start adding the computer.
Step 5: Click on the Browse button to scan the network for SMB ready Windows Hosts(Computer). You will be able to see the computer listed after the scan is complete (sometimes even before the scan is completed).
Step 6: Click on the Computer Name to start browsing the folder and files that we have shared earlier.
You can see the Shared folders are show in FX File Explorer. Now you can View or Stream Movies or Videos directly on your phone.
With my time with all the three applications, FX File explorer was the fastest one to establish the SMB Connection. It is faster compared to others when browsing folders or opening files or streaming file.
Play Movies, Music in Your Computer on Android Phone
You can play media directly on your phone as you would normally do with files on your Internal Storage or Memory card. Just click on the media file and choose the app to open the file with. It will then start streaming the media file from the computer directly on your Android phone over the WiFi connection. This doesn’t consume Internet data.
Here is a quick method to convert torrents to direct links so that you can stream torrents directly without downloading.
Here you can see the I’m playing the songs which is located on my computer in my phone without having to copy the file. You can similarly stream movies on your phone. This can save you the time required for copying the movie or media file from the computer to your phone. Also you phone can have more free storage.
Unable to See Computer in SMB option?
If you are unable to see the computer when searching in the LAN/SMB Mode, you can do the following to manually add the computer in the file explorer. All the three file explorer has an option to manually add computers( Host) in the SMB option.
Step 1: Find out the IP Address of the Computer in which we shared the folder. To do that, Click Win+R to launch Run and Enter CMD to open Command Prompt.
Step 2: Once CMD is opened enter ipconfig to see the IP Address of the computer. IP address of the Pc will be the corresponding value marked by IPv4 Address.
Step 3: You can manually Enter this IP address in Hostname/Server Address and then manually connect to the computer.( Given there are connected to the same WiFi network(LAN)).
If you want to stream movies or videos from your Windows computer to Android phone, then this is the best way to go. With Windows Shared Folder feature and SMB protocol we can access shared folders and file on Android over a WiFi network.
This means that we don’t have to copy a movie or file to our phone to be able to view it on the phone. We can simply stream the file directly from the computer similar to how we can stream torrents directly without downloading.