The Fastest File Transfer Methods Between PCs and Mobile Devices

Joel Lee Updated 13-12-2019

PC-to-mobile files transfers are easy to do. This article covers five of the fastest ways to get your files from a mobile device onto a computer.


Remember when files had to be split between multiple floppy disks to move them between computers? Or the inconvenience of burning and ripping data from rewritable discs? Fortunately, we’ve moved on from such primitive methods.

While file transfers have never been faster than they are today, for many of us, file transfers still feel like they take forever to complete. Why can’t there be a quick and easy way to transfer files from phone to phone or between PC and mobile devices?

Well, here are a few solutions you should check out. You may be surprised by how quickly you’ll be able to move files from now on.

Transferring Files From Windows to Windows

The best method for a Windows-to-Windows data transfer depends on how often you will make those transfers. For one-time file transfers, you’re better off using something like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi Direct.

For Bluetooth to work, both the sending and receiving Windows computer must be Bluetooth-compatible. Wi-Fi Direct is similar to Bluetooth, except files are sent and received directly over Wi-Fi instead.


Wi-Fi Direct is much faster than Bluetooth Wi-Fi Direct: Windows Wireless File Transfer That's Faster Than Bluetooth Bluetooth isn't the only solution for wireless file transfers. A faster solution exists in Windows 10 called Wi-Fi Direct. Read More , but the downside is that it isn’t as universally available across devices like Bluetooth is.

On the other hand, if you need to transfer lots of files every single day—maybe it’s part of your regular office routine or workflow—then it’ll be more convenient to set up a shared folder or shared external drive on your network that other computers can access and pull files on demand.

See our intro to network-attached storage drives 7 Reasons to Use a NAS for Data Storage & Backups External hard drives are great for data storage, but there are many more benefits to using a network-attached drive instead. Here's everything you need to know. Read More for details. For copying files on a single computer, we’ve also looked at how to copy files faster in Windows 6 Ways to Copy Files Faster in Windows 10 Wondering how to copy files faster? Here are the best ways to speed up file transfers in Windows. Read More .

Transferring Files Between Windows, Mac, and Linux

In this situation, the main obstacle is that each PC may have its own unique way of storing file data. For example, most modern Windows computers use NTFS, while Mac computers use APFS or HFS+ and Linux computers use EXT3 or EXT4. Unfortunately, converting data between file systems is not always easy.


But in the case of a Windows-to-Mac data transfer, things aren’t so bad. Starting with Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), Macs have been able to read and write in NTFS format, as long as the user makes one necessary system setting change.

This means you can share a folder between Mac and Windows, then use that folder for transferring files. See more in our guide to sharing files between Mac and Windows How to Easily Share Files Between Mac and Windows If you use both Windows and macOS, here's an easy way to transfer files from Mac to Windows and vice versa. Read More .

The same concept can be applied to Windows-to-Linux data transfers, but the process is a little more involved.

Each computer must set up a folder for the other system to access, and you’ll need to install cifs-utils on Linux (to access Windows folders) and samba on Windows (to access Linux folders).


Transferring Files Between Windows and iOS

For the most part, you’ll rarely need to transfer anything between Windows and iOS except maybe music, in which case you can just go ahead and use iTunes to synchronize your media library—but iTunes tends to be a frustrating mess on Windows. The good news is, there’s a better way!

FileApp is an app, available on both iPhones and iPads, that acts as a mobile file manager. With it, you can browse and open any file that resides on the device you’re using, including formats like PDF, DOC, XLS, and PPT. (You get to decide which app the file opens in.)

But what we’re really interested in is FileApp’s ability to share files over Wi-Fi. It essentially turns your mobile device into an FTP server, allowing any computer to connect (using an FTP client) and download files.

Just note that anyone who connects will be able to view ALL files on the device!


Read more about FileApp How to Transfer Files From PC to iPhone and iPad (And Vice Versa) Need to quickly move files from your computer to your iPhone or iPad? Or the other way around? Here's how using FileApp. Read More in our dedicated review.

Transferring Files Between Windows and Android

Like FileApp above, Android has several apps available on the Google Play Store that can turn any Android device into an FTP server. While FTP is active, any computer can connect, browse the Android file system, and download files on demand.

I prefer to use WiFi FTP Server by Medha Apps. It doesn’t look all that special, but it’s incredibly simple and allows you to use password-protected SFTP connections, which are more secure than plain FTP.

This stock photo shows three devices with Pushbullet installed

If you prefer to send individual files rather than opening up your device as a full-blown file server, consider using Pushbullet to send files over the network to any connected computer at the tap of a button.

Pushbullet’s free plan has a 25MB cap on file size for transfers, but there are many alternatives to Pushbullet that are worth using, including AirDroid and Send Anywhere.

Of course, you could always plug your Android device straight into your computer with a USB cable, as explained in our guides to transferring files from Android to PC or the opposite, from your desktop PC to Android 5 Ways to Transfer Data From PC or Laptop to Android Phone Need to move data from your laptop to your Android device? Here are some easy ways to transfer in no time at all. Read More .

Transferring Files Between Any Two Devices

In addition to all of the above methods, there are a few other techniques and services you can use that will likely work regardless of which devices you’re trying to bridge.

Dropbox is a strong choice. Dropbox is a cloud storage service that stores your files on their servers, and makes them accessible from any Dropbox-supported device, including Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, iOS, and any web browser. Use the provided Public folder for easy sharing of files.

The drawback of using Dropbox—or any other cloud storage service—is that your files must travel through a middleman, which is inherently less secure and less private. Plus, you have to first upload from the source device to Dropbox, then download from Dropbox to the target device. It’s a minor inconvenience, but an inconvenience nonetheless. It can rule out sending large videos How to Send Large Videos Need to send a large video file but it keeps being stopped or sent back? Here's how to send large videos from your phone or PC. Read More , though.

Another option is to transfer files over email using a file transfer service for sending large email attachments How to Send Large Files as Email Attachments: 8 Solutions Want to send large files via email but running into file size limits? We show you how to send large files via email attachments. Read More .

But the best alternative is to use a cross-platform direct file transfer app called Feem. This awesome tool is “like Bluetooth but 50X faster,” allowing you to transfer files directly from device to device as long as both devices are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Yes, it works even if the internet doesn’t actually work.

Feem is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS devices. The one drawback is that Feem is ad-supported, and costs $5 to remove ads on up to 4 devices or $10 for up to 19 devices.

Any Other Ways to Transfer Files?

If you’re frequently shuffling files around, I’d go with Feem. If you’re working with the same files across multiple workstations, I’d stay in sync using Dropbox. But if you just need a one-off transfer, I’d go with one of the more device-specific solutions.

You should now be equipped to transfer any and all files between any two devices. If you’re also interested in quickly sending files to someone else, check out these no-nonsense ways to share files over the web.

And if you want to share files between Mac and iOS devices What Is Airdrop? How to Share Files Between iOS and Mac Apple's AirDrop is a convenient service allowing you to transfer files between Mac and iOS devices. Here's how to use it. Read More , you can use AirDrop.

Related topics: Dropbox, File Sharing, NTFS, Wi-Fi Direct.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Gokul
    September 26, 2019 at 10:40 am

    Thank you! Very helpful!

  2. David
    March 12, 2019 at 8:19 am

    All these no-cable wifi methods are slow and bigbfiles will take days to transfer.

  3. Speed
    December 4, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    We use SHAREit between ALL DEVICES: Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone. Very FAST and very efficient. And FREE. You can download the free apps to Android (Play Store) and iPhone (Apple Store) devices. And download the applications to Windows and Mac devices. The app uses WiFi for transfer and Bluetooth if you want it to be instant. Although, we do NOT advise using Bluetooth on iPhone or Android devices due to security vulnerabilities.

  4. David Swanson
    November 23, 2018 at 1:52 pm

    SyncThing is the best!!! OpenSource and secure. No need to move files from Android or iOS to the cloud than back down to your computer. SyncThing uses your local network and is super fast.

  5. Mark Tristan R. Ocampo
    November 21, 2018 at 10:50 am

    Which among here preserves a file's metadata after transfer?

    For example, I might have a 1000 photos all taken on January 1st, then I transfer it on April 1st to another one of my devices. Which service will keep the same detail as Jan. 1?


  6. JJ
    November 11, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Should have dropped "The Fastest" from the title of this article. All good info, but nowhere are relative speeds of transfers to mobile devices discussed (e.g, using ftp vs USB).

  7. Mark Gorman
    November 9, 2018 at 6:38 pm

    I have multiple skype profiles on multiple devices and I use the transfer files feature if I have internet.

  8. Mark Gorman
    November 9, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    I have multiple skype profiles on multiple devices and sometimes I use the file transfer feature if I have internet ..

    December 2, 2017 at 2:18 pm


  10. Jermaine D
    September 12, 2017 at 10:03 pm

    Binfer allows you to create a web drop and move anything from your phone directly to your computer, no download required! Try it for free!

  11. Shannon Cunningham
    October 2, 2016 at 7:35 am

    What about for Linux?

  12. Alpha
    June 2, 2016 at 5:28 am

    Got a question but maybe it's too late!
    Is it better to send files from PC to a micro SD card via the phone itself or via a converter device mounted on the PC which connects the micro SD card directly to the PC?

  13. guujjufrek
    May 26, 2016 at 9:39 am

    pushbullet and airdroid are useless apps. They are too modern and need internet connection. We need simple app for file transfer and shareit is the boss. Author is an idiot.

  14. Cyril
    January 18, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    File limitation on PushBullet unless you buy the pro version. I installed PushBullet for this one thing and this is the one thing it cannot do for free.

  15. Anonymous
    September 15, 2015 at 3:20 am

    I will check out "feem" thank you for the review.

  16. Anonymous
    August 13, 2015 at 3:33 am

    SHAREit allows you to send content including files, photos, video and documents, at lightning fast speed.
    Send files in seconds, from 1mb to 100gb.
    SHAREit works on all Windows, Android, and Apple devices (Also, did we mention it's free?)

  17. Anonymous
    July 31, 2015 at 11:09 pm

    you guys need to take a lock at Flick:
    Currently it is available on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Mac, Windows and Linux. I use it on my Windows 10 PC and on my iPhone. There is no setup needed and it is really easy. I think the Windows version is great because but it leeks some features yet. The iPhone app has some more features but I think there need to be some design and control changes.

    But anyway it's my favorite app for transfering files from my iPhone to my Pc (like a Video I received in WhatsApp).

  18. Anonymous
    July 20, 2015 at 5:17 am


  19. Anonymous
    July 10, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    I personally use Google Drive to create and store any text, picture or video files. It very convenient especially when I do an assignment for class using my laptop and just use my tablet PC to display it for my teacher in class. I also use ES file manager for Android to stream my videos (tv series) stored on my Linux desktop and I have a peer to peer network set up between my Linux desktop and Windows laptop to share any extra files and share the printer connected to my Linux desktop.

  20. Anonymous
    July 9, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    Another option is @JustBeamIt (! It's free, unlimited, and you don't need an account. Transfers are streamed from sender to receiver, which means there's no limits on how many files you can transfer, or how big the files can be, and nothing is ever stored in the cloud!

  21. Anonymous
    July 4, 2015 at 8:37 am

    I've just bought a device called Inateck HB4009. It's like a USB 3.0 hub with extras. I bought it because I wanted to use the same mouse and keyboard on two computers like a KVM switch without the V, and works a treat.

    But apparently you can also use it to copy from Windows to Linux or Android or which ever way round you want, and at USB 3.0 speeds. Plus you get three extra USB 3.0 ports. Neat.
    (I haven't tried file copying yet, It only arrived yesterday.)

  22. Anonymous
    July 3, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    Not sure if this is exactly the same, but I use a piece of software called GoodSync to synchronize files between two devices - mainly between my home desktop and a flash drive.

    My flash drive has all the files I need to be able to work away from home - in my office, on my laptop while out and about (like while waiting around for THREE HOURS because my doctor is "running late" - insert rant here!), etc. But I don't always remember what files I created or edited on the flash drive so sometimes a file does not get coped back to my desktop. Similarly, if I'm working at home, an updated file might not make it onto the flash drive, which can be very frustrating when I forget to move over a key file that I need in a meeting.

    Goodsync lets me link a folder on my desktop to one on the flash drive and easily sync them with only two mouse clicks - one to analyze (see if there are any files to sync) and a second to actually sync the two folders). It's really awesome and superfast, and has saved me SO much hassle. You can set up one-way or bi-directional syncing and can automate the whole process if you want.

    There is a free version but I splurged on the Pro version ($30 I think?) because it allows for unlimited files in a single job and some of my folders have LOTS of files.

    • Joel Lee
      July 27, 2015 at 4:05 am

      The limited number of "sync jobs" in the free version makes me a bit sad. $30 is a little too much for me to spend on sync software. Thanks for bringing it up, though. I'd never heard of it until now. :)

  23. Anonymous
    July 1, 2015 at 1:58 am

    For intra-network use, I've been using FileDrop ( for MacPC and PCPC. Works great. I see they have iOS and Android apps, but I have not tried them. I've been migrating to a Windows laptop from a Windows desktop and I've done some large transfers. Little trouble so far.

  24. Anonymous
    June 30, 2015 at 7:10 pm

    I use CheetahSync - great for sync of dirs between PC and Android on schedule (video mostly).
    As for smaller files...DropBox all the way with a side of OneDrive and Mega as base for larger and less often used file archives.
    And router's 'NAS' via FTP/Samba- but it's all about DLNA...

  25. Anonymous
    June 30, 2015 at 6:33 pm

    Big fan of Pushbullet and they recently released this:

  26. Anonymous
    June 30, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    BitTorrent Sync is excellent between Windows and Windows (haven't tried it between other platforms because I don't need this facility). Parts of our household database, which I keep up-to-date because I work from home and so have easy access to scanners etc., need to be shared with my partner - and I want them kept private and not in the Cloud; I need to keep my ultraportable up-to-date so I can grab it and go out without worrying about whether or not I've got the latest information; it can all be done with BitTorrent Sync.

    The basis version is free for private use, the Pro version costs £30 a year. Everything is updated on the fly as long as the sharing devices are on (which they are) and, with the paid version, there's the ability to pause syncing when you want to at any time.

    • Joel Lee
      July 27, 2015 at 4:02 am

      At first I thought this was a transfer method that somehow involved torrenting (which would've been really cool) but it looks like it's just created by the Bittorrent company instead. Darn. It looks useful anyway, so thanks for the suggestion! :)

  27. Anonymous
    June 30, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    There is a great free piece of software called Dukto which works across platforms provided both sender and receiver are on the same network.

    Doesn't appear to be an upper limit on file size either!

    • Anonymous
      July 2, 2015 at 6:02 pm

      Yeah Dukto R6 is awesome. But it doesnt work on background on my Android device. The app must be kept open in foreground.

  28. Anonymous
    June 30, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    I usually use Dukto to transfer all of my files quickly over the LAN. It's available for just about every platform imaginable. (and it's open source!)

    • Joel Lee
      July 27, 2015 at 4:00 am

      Thanks! Dukto is exactly the kind of software recommendation I was looking for. It sounds cool. Will have to give it a whirl soon.

  29. Anonymous
    June 30, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    I transfer between android and Windows and vice versa with ES File Explorer. Works over wifi and never had a problem.

  30. Anonymous
    June 30, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    I use Send Anywhere and Dropbox on PC and Android.
    Thanks for FileMail, didn't know about it

    • Joel Lee
      July 27, 2015 at 3:59 am

      You're welcome. Thanks for mentioning Send Anywhere, I'm going to give it a try when I can.

  31. Anonymous
    June 30, 2015 at 12:39 pm is great for pc to android transfers through wifi or network

    • Joel Lee
      July 27, 2015 at 3:58 am

      Nice! It's my first time hearing about Send Anywhere. Looks neat, definitely will give it a try when the next opportunity arises. Thanks Glen.