FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It is a network protocol for transferring files between computers across a network, on the internet or in LAN. It is one of the most common ways to transfer files from a local computer to a computer server. For example, many web designers use FTP to upload website files from their computer to hosting server to publish their website online. Generally speaking, you will need an FTP server, a user account, and a client or FTP application in order to transfer files using FTP. Some FTP servers allow users to connect as anonymous users, so no username or password is required. Sometimes a web browser or file manager is used instead of an FTP client.
FTP file transfer on mobile
However, FTP can also be used to transfer files between local computers or any other devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, in the same LAN. In this case, the computer or device hosts the files and data acts as the server, other computers or devices act as the clients. On Mac, you can enable remote login to turn your Mac into an FTP server; on Windows, you can turn on IIS and add FTP site to your PC; some Android phones, notably the Xiaomi and Redmi phones come with the FTP support. And there are plenty of apps on Apple App Store or Google Play that can turn our smartphones into FTP file servers or connect to FTP servers from our mobile devices. Following are some of the free apps with FTP support.
CX File Manager
CX File Explorer is a popular file manager with a clean and intuitive user interface that people can use to manage the files on their Android device, PC, network-attached storage, remote or shared storage, cloud storage, etc.
This is a fast, smooth, beautiful, reliable, free and full-featured Android file manager with a simple and intuitive user interface. It supports SD, FTP, Lan, Cloud and other storage.
A powerful file manager app on Android and iOS. It can access not only local files, but also files on your computer, NAS and cloud storages. Transfer files from any location to any location. Stream movies and music to your Android phones and tablets. Directly view and manage documents, photos and files without downloading.
FTP, USB or Bluetooth
Compared to file sharing through USB or Bluetooth, FTP is easier to setup and much faster to transfer files. You just need to connect all devices or computers to the same Wi-Fi network, or create a hotspot on the phone or computer to use FTP. Please keep in mind this does not mean you need internet connection or valid cellular plan. The local file sharing via FTP copies files between local devices and computer once they are connected to the same Wi-Fi network even if the wireless router is not connected to the Internet, a PC hotspot even if your computer is not connected to Wi-Fi or a mobile hotspot without a data plan.
Setup FTP server on Mac
As we mentioned above, both Windows and Mac support FTP natively so you don’t need to use third-party FTP software programs to turn your computer into an FTP server. On Mac, you can go to System Preferences > Sharing > Remote Login. Then enable remote login allows SFTP access to your Mac and also allow an account the access to the FTP server.
Create FTP server with Owlfiles on PC
Windows also allows users to turn their PC into FTP server for file sharing. This process however is not very straightforward. Thus you may consider third-party programs, like FileZilla Server, Owlfiles, etc.
Here’s how you can create FTP server with Owlfiles on PC.
Search ‘owlfiles’ in Microsoft Store on your PC to find and download the Owlfiles file manager on your computer.
In Owlfiles file manager for Windows, click Settings, switch to the Server tab, you can configure and start the FTP server.
You can leave User Name and Password blank to enable anonymous access to the FTP server. Port number is set to 21 by default. Click Browse… button to change the default FTP server root directory if like. Hit Start Servers button to turn your PC into an FTP server. You will then get the FTP server IP address.
Setup FTP server on Xiaomi or Redmi phones
Mi phones come with native support to FTP. You can create FTP servers or connect to FTP server on Xiaomi or Redmi phones without third-party FTP apps.
Open the stock File Manager app on Xiaomi phone. Tap on the Menu button (three horizontal lines icon) at the upper left corner.
Create FTP server on Mi phone
Choose FTP from above screen, then press the Start button to enable FTP server.
You will be asked to choose Connection type between Portable (not secure) and Password-protected.
Once started, the FTP server IP address and port will be presented on your phone screen.
Connect FTP server from Mi phone
Launch the stock File Manager app on your Mi phone, tap the Menu button at the upper left corner, choose Remote from the side menu.
Then choose Add remote device on the Remote screen, and choose FTP, you will then get a dialog like this.
- Host: type in the FTP server IP address.
- Port: by default port number is set to 21.
- Username: leave blank if anonymous access was enabled.
- Password: leave blank if anonymous access was enabled.
- Anonymous: tap to check it if anonymous access was enabled.
Tap on OK button to save the connection to your FTP server from Xiaomi or Redmi phone.
Connect to FTP server from Android using MiXplorer
Open the file explorer app on your mobile phone, tap the Add (+) button from the bottom toolbar, choose Add Storage from the pop-up menu.
Choose FTP (S,ES) from the above list. As you can see from above screenshot, SFTP is also supported, just a small side note. Then input your FTP server details as shown on below screenshot.
- FTP address: ftp://yourdomain or ftp://yourftpserverIP;
- Username: ftp account name;
- Password: the password for above ftp account;
- Display name(optional): a descriptive name of your FTP server.
Tap Save button to save the FTP connection. You can then access your FTP server from Android phone to upload files from phone to FTP server, download files from FTP server to Android, etc.
Connect to FTP server from Android using Owlfiles app
Run Owlfiles app on your mobile phone. Switch to the Connections tab from the bottom. Tap the lightening button at the top right corner, choose New Connection > FTP.
If you have enabled anonymous access to FTP server above, here you only need to input the FTP server IP address before you hit the Save button in the upper right corner to create and save the FTP server connection.
Once your Android phone is connected to the FTP server through Owlfiles, it is very straightforward to copy files between the phone and the server. It is just like how you copy files from one folder to another in the same local storage of the phone.
Connect to FTP server using CX explorer
Launch CX File Explorer on Android phone. Switch from the LOCAL to NETWORK tab where you can find the following options: Access from network, New location. Choose New location > REMOTE.
Here we can connect to other devices in the local network, connect to SMB server, FTP server, SFTP or WebDAV file servers from Android mobile.
Choose FTP, then input the FTP server host IP, port, username and password. If anonymous access is enabled, tap to check the Anonymous option so no username or password required.
Fill in all the required info, then click OK button. You can then access all files and folders saved on the FTP server right from your mobile phone.
If your phone does not come with the native support to FTP, you can download apps such as MiExplorer, Owlfiles, to create FTP servers on the phone and/or connect your phone to FTP server.
Turn Android into an FTP server with Owlfiles app
Run Owlfiles file manager app on your Android phone. Switch from My Files to the More tab from the bottom. Choose Built-in Servers from the Toolbox section.
Once you are on the Built-in Servers screen, you can find the options to configure, start both Web server and FTP server.
Note that the default FTP server port in the Built-in FTP server is 2121. So when you access the FTP server using an FTP client, make sure to use the correct FTP port.
Create FTP server on Android with MiExplorer
Run MiExplorer app on your Android phone, tap the More menu (three vertical dots) at the top right corner, you will see a drop-down menu list. Choose Servers from the list, you will then get the servers list as below.
Tap Start FTP Server to setup FTP server on your mobile phone. The FTP server IP, port number and FTP server root folder will be displayed.
Optionally tap on the Edit icon after the FTP server to configure the FTP server, such as username and password, FTP server root folder, port number, secure FTP via FTPS, etc.
Setup FTP server on Android with CX File Manager
Launch CX file explorer app on your Android device, switch from the Local to the Network tab.
Then tap on Access from Network > Start Service. You will then get the FTP address(server IP and port number), username and password, see screenshot below.
Access Android FTP server from PC
You can now access the Android FTP server to upload and download files from your PC using web browser, like Edge, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Window File Explorer, Mac Finder, FTP apps like FileZilla, SmartFTP, Cyberduck, Transmit, WinSCP, etc.
Connect Android FTP server from PC
Launch File Explorer on Windows 11 PC, type in the full FTP server address, with ftp:// as the prefix and the port number as the affix, in the address bar, then press Enter on the keyboard to access. You’ll be prompted to input the FTP username and its password if you created an FTP account in Owlfiles built-in servers. If anonymous access is enabled in Owlfiles app, no authentication required.
Connect FTP server on Android using FileZilla from PC
FileZilla is a very popular FTP client for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Here we will use its Windows version in this demo to show you how to connect to the Android FTP server from computer.
In FileZilla FTP client for Windows, input your FTP server IP in the Host field, then input the port 21, 2121 or any other port you have defined when setting up the FTP server on Android in the Port field, click Quickconnect button to connect to the FTP server created on your Android phone.
If you have created an FTP account when setting up the FTP server on the phone, do not forget to enter the its username and password into the Username field and Password field separately.
Once the connection established, you can navigate through the directory structure and manage files on the Android device from this FTP client on your PC or Mac.
Just as a small side note, there are different ways you can connect to Android FTP server from computer using this FTP client. The above method is the easiest way to use this FTP client to connect an FTP server, but not the only one.
Connect Mac to Android FTP server
You don’t have to use a third-party FTP app on the Mac in order to connect an FTP server. The Finder comes with the FTP server support natively. Click on the Finder in the Dock. Navigate to the Go menu, then choose Connect to Server. Type the address of the FTP server with port number into the text box, such as ftp://192.168.50.75:8791. Press Connect.
Click another Connect button to continue. You will be requested to type in your username and password for the FTP server. If anonymous access is enabled, choose Guest to connect to the FTP server without an username/password. Otherwise, select Registered User, then type in the FTP username and password in the Name and Password fields separately.
Finally hit the Connect button to establish the connection between your phone and computer.