When it comes to file sharing these days, it’s no longer just about sharing files between computers. Now your friend with Android phone might want videos captured from iPhone, or you can copy multiple pictures from Windows PC to your iPad.
In this article, I hope to give you as complete a guide to sharing across devices as possible. This will be a long time, so feel free to skip to the section that applies to you. The sections will be broken down into computer sharing, sharing between computers and mobile devices, and sharing only between mobile devices.
Note. This article will link to many of my previous posts about online technical tips and support specialists, as these articles explain certain tasks step by step.
Share files between computers
When it comes to sharing files between computers, you can divide it into two types: local or remote. If you need to copy some files to another computer on your local network, it will be much faster because you will be using Ethernet or Wi-Fi to transfer.
This is the best way to quickly transfer large amounts of data to another computer. When copying files outside of your LAN (local area network), you are limited by the speed of your internet. If you have a Verizon FIOS with a 75Mbps upload / download connection (which I have now), then transferring large amounts of data to the remote computer will be fast as well.
However, if you are stuck with AT&T and have a miserable 1.5 Mbps download speed (which I have in the past), it will take a long time to download several gigabytes of data. Let’s talk about local data transfer first.
Local data transfer
Local data transfers
If you’re only trying to communicate between Windows computers, Microsoft has finally made things easier by introducing homegroups in Windows 7. Hopefully you’re not using Windows XP or Windows Vista because homegroups don’t work with those operating systems. If so, I will still explain the methods you can use to exchange between all versions of Windows.
To get started, read my post on setting up a homegroup in Windows 7. Note that the procedure is exactly the same in Windows 8 and Windows 10.
If you are using Windows 8, read my post on How to Join a Windows 8 PC to a Windows 7 Homegroup Windows publishing.
Mac and PC File Sharing
That’s it for Windows PCs. This is the easiest way and works really well. Let’s say you need to exchange files between PC and Mac. What do you need to do?
Well, it’s still pretty straightforward because both Apple and Microsoft have been supporting each other’s operating systems for the past few years. This means that it is now very easy for a Mac to access a Windows shared folder, and vice versa.
First, you can read my in-depth guide on how to access a Mac shared folder from a Windows PC. It’s pretty simple, and most people should be able to do it.
If you want to do the opposite, read my post on how to access a Windows share from a Mac running OS X.
Using this method of creating shared folders also allows communication between older versions of Windows, such as XP and Vista with newer versions, as well as between Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems.
Directly connecting computers
Another way to exchange files between two computers is by connecting them directly. This can be done if both computers have wireless cards or Ethernet connectors.
If you have two computers with wireless cards, you can connect them wirelessly by creating a peer-to-peer network. This is a rather lengthy procedure, and this method has some limitations, so I suggest you only use it if you cannot use Homegroups or do not have Wi-Fi or LAN access.
Using this method, you can sit on the beach and still connect two computers and exchange data. If both computers have Ethernet connectors, you can purchase a crossover cable and connect them directly through the cable.
You can read my post on connecting two computers with a crossover cable, but you may run into some problems as it is a bit more technical in nature.
Third Party Options
There are even more options for efficiently moving files locally. One option is to use Dropbox and turn on the LAN sync option. This feature will automatically detect that another computer with Dropbox installed is on the same network, and instead of first uploading it to Dropbox and then syncing back, it will simply transfer the data over the local network to another computer. P>
Last but not least is the use of traditional USB drives to transfer data between computers. I didn’t mention this first because I assume that most people already know about this and want to perform the transfer in some other way.
It’s worth noting, however, that being physically connected to your computer is probably the fastest way to transfer large amounts of data. If your computer has a USB 3.0 or eSATA port, the data transfer speeds are incredible. So don’t forget about this easy way to do things first.
Remote data transfer
Remote data transfers
All this was for local data transmission. Now let’s move on to remote data transfer. Suppose you have a friend or family member to whom you want to transfer data and who lives in a different part of the world, then what is the best way to transfer data?
The answer is that it depends on the circumstances. If you have a fast connection, especially fast download speeds, then using cloud storage is your best option. Just install Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, Amazon CloudDrive, Google Drive, iCloud Drive, and more, Upload your data and then upload it to the remote computer.
This works well for most people, but there are some problems. First, you usually have to buy space on these cloud storage services, which means they don’t make sense for someone trying to transfer 500GB of data one time. Secondly, you must entrust your data to a third party such as Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. The data you transmit may be confidential and you do not want to risk being hosted on third party servers.
Peer to Peer
For such cases, there are several good options. One of my favorites is BitTorrent Sync BitTorrent Sync lacks a cloud component, so your data transfers faster and more securely. The free version has no restrictions on the size of a folder or file. It has a limitation only on the number of folders to sync.
Obviously, if you want to sync tons of data between computers, you’ll need to buy the Pro, but if you just need to transfer really large files often, then the free version is perfect.
Personal File Server
The reason I like BitTorrent Sync is because it does all the work for you and is really easy to use, yet very secure and fast. If you’d rather do it yourself, you can read my post on setting up your own home file server
It’s definitely time consuming and technically challenging, but also very helpful when you get it all set up. However, you need to be more careful about potential security issues like open ports on your router or a misconfigured firewall.
Share files between computers and mobile devices
In the second section, we will talk about the exchange of data between computers and mobile devices. As before, the type of solution that is right for you depends on your hardware and operating systems. Let’s start with simple things.
If you have a relatively new Mac running OS X 10.7 or higher and a relatively new iPhone or iPad running iOS 7 or higher, you can use AirDrop to transfer files between your computer and your mobile device. AirDrop does not work with Android devices or other operating systems like Windows or Linux, so its capabilities are rather limited.
If you are using an Apple device but need your data on a Windows machine, I would suggest just installing iCloud Drive on Windows You can copy any data to iCloud Drive from your Mac or Windows computer. Oddly enough, on iOS, you can only see iCloud files for certain apps, since Apple hasn’t created an iCloud Drive app for iOS yet.
If you’re using Android, you also have several options that work the same way as AirDrop, and maybe even better. Several apps immediately come to my mind: Filedrop, AirDroid, and SHAREit Using these apps, you can exchange files between your Android device, Windows, Mac and even iPhone, iPad or Windows Phone.
Access shared folders
These applications allow you to connect to your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer and access any shared folders. You can easily transfer files in both ways. There are also many other apps that do the same thing, so feel free to search. I only mentioned them because I have used them before. They may not be the best.
At this point, a lot of overlap begins in terms of which application or service can be used to accomplish a specific task. For example, you can also easily use cloud storage to transfer files between your computer and mobile device. You can also use BitTorrent Sync to do this and bypass the cloud.
Share files between mobile devices only
If you only want to share files between mobile devices, you can use one of the solutions mentioned above. Fortunately, there isn’t much to mention here.
If you have Apple devices, use iCloud Drive, AirDrop, or iCloud Shared Photo Albums. If you are using Android and are using version 4.1 or higher with an NFC chip, you can use something called Android Beam This allows data to be transferred between two Android devices in close proximity wirelessly.
For third-party devices, you can also simply swap the microSD cards if both phones have one. Android phones also support Bluetooth file transfer. Windows Phone also supports file sharing via Bluetooth, so in theory you should be able to connect Android and Windows Phone together and exchange files, although I’ve never done that myself.
If you want to exchange data between iPhone and Android device, your best bet is to use third-party cloud storage and then just send the other person the sharing link. Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, etc. Allows you to share files or folders that can then be uploaded by the other party.
Also, as mentioned above, there are certain apps like SHAREit that you can download for iOS, Android, or Windows Phone, so you can easily share files between any mobile operating system.
Hopefully this article has given you a better understanding of how to transfer your data and it hasn’t confused you anymore! There are many options and ways to do one thing.
My best advice is to try a few different services, programs, applications and see which ones work best for what you are trying to do. For me, I use cloud storage for certain broadcasts, but I also regularly use AirDrop, USB drives, homegroups, and shared folders to move data.
If you have a better idea, app or service that does the job for you, feel free to leave a comment and let us know. Enjoy!