When I first tried Android in 2010, I was surprised to find that there wasn’t a native file browser on my Nexus One. There was a “Downloads” folder, sure, but I wanted full access to the directory tree on my device, a perk I had enjoyed as a Symbian user for years. It didn’t help that the go-to third-party solution was riddled with ads.
As it turns out, ads are the least of our worries when it comes to file managers. When an app has unfettered access to both your device and home network one needs to choose wisely. Yesterday we found out that the wildly popular ES File Manager might not be such a good choice; today I’ll be recommending some replacements.
Replacing ES is a challenge in that the app has a lot of features baked in. Rather than seeking another feature-rich file manager to replace it, I’ve chosen some smaller single-purpose tools for the features I need. Everyone’s needs for a file manager will be different, so I encourage you to add your own recommendations to this thread.
Basic File Management
For my basic file management needs I need look no further than the native file manager on my custom ROM—yet another benefit of using homebrew Android firmware on your device.
The native app on my current install of SlimKat is called Simple Explorer. It’s not available on the Play Store, unfortunately, but you can get it on F-Droid or install the .apk directly from XDA Developers. It doesn’t require root, but if you are rooted you’ll be able to administer every single directory on your Android device.
This was the killer feature of ES File Explorer for me. I use Linux on my desktop computers and MTP has always been flaky at best. An unlikely saviour arrived in the form of the native file manager on MIUI, which allowed my Linux desktop to transfer files to my devices via FTP. ES was the only other file manager I could find with FTP server support—and potentially a backdoor into my local computer network, apparently…
Anyway, lots of file managers offer FTP access; far fewer can turn your device into an FTP server. I’ve chosen to go with the XDA-sanctioned FTPDroid, which you can download from the Play Store right here.
An onboard text editor can come in very handy for investigating suspicious files on your device. For this relatively simple task I’ve chosen an app called Turbo Editor, available on both F-Droid and Google Play. It’s probably overkill, but it gets the job done.
So again, everyone’s needs for a file manager are different; I can only advise as per my own requirements. Hopefully the recommendations above will be of some value. We’ve already seen an additional recommendation from forums member zapjb in the thread I started yesterday; feel free to do likewise here today!