Wednesday, 6 July 2011

WiFi File Explorer: Batch Transfers, Multiple File Uploads/Downloads, Bulk Moving Files Around ... Or Whatever You Want To Call It.

WiFi File Explorer allows you to ‘bulk’ upload and download files and directories between your Android device and computer, but some users don’t find it obvious how to do this or get easily confused by the prospect.  I will try to explain as best I can how this can be achieved depending on the scenario.

Firstly, it needs to be understood that web browsers are limited to handling one file request at a time when it comes to downloading files.  This is because of the obvious security reason that you don’t want some malicious website automatically saving loads of files to your computer without your permission, so you must authorize each one.  Similarly, you can’t just select a whole directory to upload to a website because it could be massive with loads of sub directories – it’s just not supported by web browsers.

Downloading a Directory
To download a directory, just click on the ‘Download’ action in the directory’s row.  It gets around the fact you can’t download multiple files at once by zipping the directory up so it appears as one file, and also provides the benefit of being compressed so the transfer is faster.  Just unzip the file once it has downloaded to your computer and there is your directory – simple.

Downloading Multiple Files and/or Directories
Use the check boxes in each row to select the items you want to download and then simply click the ‘Download Selected’ button.  Similar to downloading a directory, you will get a single ZIP file containing everything you wanted to download – just unzip it.

Uploading a Directory
Do the reverse of downloading a directory.  Zip the directory on your computer and upload the resultant ZIP file.  Then once it has uploaded, simply use the ‘Unzip’ action in the uploaded ZIP file’s row and you have your entire directory on your Android device (delete the ZIP file afterwards to free up space).  Again, this is a good way to transfer large amounts of data as it is all nicely compressed.

Uploading Multiple Files and/or Directories
Firstly, if you haven’t done already, then make sure ‘Multi-select Upload’ is enabled in the application settings.  This simply means you can use ctrl/shift clicking to select multiple files to upload, rather than having to build the list by selecting them individually (it also requires Flash to be enabled in your web browser).  Now, simply select the files you want to upload, whether they be individual files or zipped up directories.

Uploading a Massively Huge Amount of Data
Just like uploading a directory, zip it all up on your computer, upload the ZIP file and unzip it once it has uploaded to the Android device.  It’s the most efficient and quickest way to bulk transfer large amounts of data using WiFi File Explorer’s mechanisms.

So there you have it - all very easy really, once you know how.  Now, it may appear a little fiddly compared with the usual copy/cut & paste that you are used to on your desktop computer, but then WiFi File Explorer is running on an Android device and using a web interface and so has to work inside those limitations.  WiFi File Explorer is designed to be simple to use and the whole idea behind it is that it only requires a WiFi network and a web browser to work, with no additional software installed on the computer.  It’s this simplicity that has led to its popularity and widespread use and I hope you find it useful for all your data transferring needs.

Port Forwarding

A number of my Android applications (WiFi File Explorer, SECuRET LiveStream, BabyCam Monitor and GroovyCam LiveStream) all work by turning an Android device, which is connected to a local WiFi network, into a web server.  This then allows you to connect to it via a web browser on that same local network in order to access the service provided by the application, i.e. file management, video & audio streaming, etc.

So that’s all good and you got it working on your local network, and you’re pretty happy with that.  But wait; now you want someone who’s not on your local network to be able to use the application as well.  For example you may want someone to view the feed from SECuRET LiveStream across the internet.  Well, thanks to ‘port forwarding’ that is entirely possible!

Now, I can’t give you exact step-by-step instructions on how to forward ports for your model of router; there are far too many models available and I simply don’t know how to do it for them all ... hey, I even have to Google up some instructions for how to do it on my router whenever I need to.  But a good place to start to find out how to do it is as

What I can do though is tell you want you need to do to accomplish your goal.  Following are some general instructions for forwarding ports on your router to allow the services in my applications to be used across the internet...

Firstly, by configuring your router, you need to forward ports 8000 and 8001 on your router to ports 8000 and 8001 of your Android device, based on the Android device’s IP address.  WiFi File Explorer only uses port 8000 and that number is configurable in the application settings, so you only need to forward this port or whatever you have it configured as.  The other applications will have the ports configurable in the future as well, so depending on when you read this, just bear that in mind.

Once that is done, all you need to do is replace the IP address part of the web URL that the application tells you to enter into your web browser, with the external IP address of your router (one way to find that out is on the main page of the Port Forward website I linked to above).  So for example, the application may tell you to enter something like...

... where is the IP address of the Android device.  But instead of entering that, if your router’s external IP address is for example, 82.124.321.29, then you (or whomever you want to be able to use the service) would enter...


... and hey presto, it’s working across the internet!!  Easy huh?!

Now, I realise depending on your level of skill that may not be easy at all, so if you get confused then feel free to email me for more help.  But remember, if it’s something specific to your model of router, I’ll only be using Google to find the answer, just like you would ;)