Transferring files fast from an Android phone to a computer can be an absolute chore. Newer Androids don’t like you mounting your phone just like an external drive, and as a result dead-slow protocols with limited file visualization functionality (simply opening files or seeing thumbnails) are used today, an absolute pity and on top of that in no way a security benefit.
Android debug bridge and MTP are a pain in the 🍑, everybody who says otherwise hasn’t tried to transfer large files or wanting to preview them on the actual target computer. Come back after you have to lecture me on what I do on the daily. Thanks. Okay, now that all the entitled noobs are gone, let’s get into the actual discussion: How to transfer files fast and from any Android device to any other device.
I decided to no longer put up with even trying to directly mount my phone on Linux (or any other system; not that I’d deprecate my hardware with that, but it really doesn’t make a difference, as Windows users will be fooled even more by Android device retailers bloatware-ing them with unnecessary “file transfer tools” that luckily don’t even exist for Linux, because we all know how to access a folder).
Can’t believe I’m saying this but direct flash drive transfer is faster than MTP and else; sad.
As it always has been, hardware transfer is the ultimate fallback, and will be for me until Android grows the f*ck up and lets us use our devices like non-psychopaths. It’s either mounted like a flash drive or it’s unusable. Those one-way street protocols are crippling and need to go. How many times has MTP just crapped out on me mid-transfer and I had to start over or worse, the file was gone. You can’t rely on it (and don’t you even dare “have you tried a different cable” me – I have tried a different decade, bro, and that worked just fine; f*ck your cable and f*ck MTP).
I’m actually happy with this solution and it’s so much faster than all the other options (MTP, ADB, network transfer and Bluetooth – whoever uses that just loves suffering). My setup consists of:
- a large flash drive formatted in exFAT
- a USB-A to USB-C adapter¹ for my phone
- a micro SD memory card reader¹ to USB-A
- total commander app (cause it’s the fastest to preview and move files) [fdroid link] [Google Play Store]
I can’t even begin to say how practical and life changing this has been. Yes, it is a little bit annoying to select the files in Android and move them, but in no way is it more annoying than doing that on my computer, where I can be 80% sure it won’t work and I’ll have to do it all over again (or I can’t preview MP4s and other crap that should not even be a thing in 2023; going to the moon but transferring your files from Android is not comfortable like a baby’s first pair of socks? Holy f*cking sh*t, what is this BS?).
So yeah, if you’re like me and ADB and MTP are just to unreliable or annoying to you, just buy these adapters and you will be happy again.
Why use a memory card adapter?
The the SD-card adapter? Well, I don’t like apps. I don’t like having an app for everything, and even though Sony does offer a lightweight and 50% functioning solution (with one of my cameras it works, with the other one it doesn’t) with built-in WiFi to transfer photos and videos from your camera to your phone (and not your computer btw, f*ck that, Sony), it is less clicking overall to just use a card-reader flash drive like the one shown in the picture above.
The memory card adapter has proven very useful in the strange situation of going to a photo printer (we have those in a lot of stores here actually) and wanting to print pictures. Now, I really don’t want to take out my phone SD-card for that, let alone wait for their never-working wireless transfer (which really is just Bluetooth and takes hours). Instead what I like to do is edit those pictures on my phone, put them on a flash drive (with nothing else, so that this weird-ass machine does not get any other data from me than what’s necessary) and just print them in minutes.
Instead of like before: Going home, taking time out of my day, editing that sh*t on my computer, putting it on a flash drive anyway, cause I never really have a clean memory card lying around, and then going back to the store. I now have this card reader in my everyday carry and whenever I’m like “Oh, I’m at the convenience store, and I just took cute pictures of my kid, I could send them to grandma”, I can just do that super fast. No wifi, no bluetooth, no mounting my phone to a weird “photo booth machine”, ew. But that’s just one of many applications, I could go on forever. I have so many cameras and devices using memory cards that my phone otherwise could only read “through my computer” that this just totally makes sense.
With the card reader I can transfer photos from my camera to my phone, which is otherwise not possible unless I use an app called “Imaging Edge” from Sony. It basically gives the phone an external card reader. And although I believe that should be a built-in, as long as it is not, I need a workaround. (I do think the best solution would be to have an internal and external SD slot on phones, so you can use one to backup / store photos (not apps, please just provide every phone on the planet with 256 GB of built-in memory), and one to exchange data fast that is accessible from the outside; everything else just makes no sense).
I have been using this combo for a few weeks now and it really just fills me with joy to use it. The fact that I haven’t attached my Android phone to my computer even one time in weeks, because it is simply not faster or simpler to transfer my data that way, says it all. This is the way. ADB and MTP are now the fallback, hardware transfer is it. It’s also just so much more intuitive because you see where your files go. It’s reliable. Not one time in weeks have I lost data due to the transfer breaking off randomly on large video files. Not once have I had trouble transferring the wrong files cause thumbnails didn’t work. This is it.
¹ Affiliate link.