Access Folders Shared With Android: the Entire Local Network at Your Fingertips

Samba is a free software capable of setting up shares on Unix/Linux servers in such a way that they appear to Windows users as normal folders accessible through the local network. Not only that. Samba allows access to shared folders in Windows from any Linux kernel based system. Samba can be considered as an open source implementation of the network protocols used on Microsoft operating systems and it is thanks to the work done by this application that it is now possible to exchange, without any difficulty, files and folders between Linux and Windows machines (and vice versa).

The name Samba originates from the inclusion of two vowels in the name of the SMB protocol (“Server Message Block”), used by Microsoft mainly to share files, printers, ports and other types of communications between the different nodes of a network.

Since the green robot’s operating system is also based on the Linux kernel, how can I access folders shared by Android?

The solution to adopt is quite simple and consists in installing, on the Android device, whether it is a smartphone or a tablet, an application that offers support for the SMB protocol.

ES File Explorer is one of the best applications that allows you to access folders shared by Android.

The software is able to access any shared resource in LAN, to connect to other devices via Bluetooth, to act as a client for a wide range of storage services “on the cloud” (Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive,, SugarSync, Amazon S3 and so on) and as an FTP client (FTP, FTPS, SFTP and WebDAV).

To install ES File Manager on your Android device and access the shared folders on your local network, simply log on to this Google Play page and click the Install button. The application will be immediately transmitted to the device associated with the Google account and automatically installed (to install the application and to connect to the local network, you must verify that the Wi-Fi connection is active on your Android device).

The operation of ES File Manager is very simple: after starting the program from your Android device, you will have to “plug” the small button at the top left:

By default, the first time you start ES File Manager, it should display the indication “Local”. This means that ES File Manager will show the contents of the flash memory connected to the Android device (/sdcard/). From the Change View list you will then have to choose the LAN item:

At this point, the button at the top left should show the LAN indication and in the middle of the window should show “LAN Shares”.

The New button will allow you to specify the shared folder you want to access from Android.

By clicking on the Scan item, you can obtain a list of the systems, devices and peripherals connected to the local network (the scanning process may take several seconds before it is complete):

At this point, “plugging” on the system containing the folders to be accessed through the Android device will most likely show ES File Manager the message Connection failed. Try a new username/password?

ES File Manager, in fact, first tries to perform an anonymous access to the shared resource on the local network. If it needs to have access credentials in order to be used, it will display the message shown in the figure. Selecting OK, then, you will be able to enter the correct user name/password pair:

In this screen you must enter the login credentials of an account created on the Windows machine to which you are connecting and which has the right to manage the shared resource.

Our advice is to go to the Windows machine, right-click on the shared folder in the local network and select the Properties command. By clicking on the Sharing tab, you can check whether the folders you are interested in are actually shared on your local network.

Using the Advanced Sharing button then clicking on Permissions, you can check the user accounts that have access rights to the shared folder on the local network. In the example in the figure, authorized to access the local network with the most extensive rights possible (read and write access) is the account called Michele:

You can of course add more accounts by setting the corresponding access rights. The use of the Everyone account is not recommended because, supposing it is valid in the local network, it is comparable to a public access without making it necessary to enter a username and password.

On the Android device, in ES File Manager, just enter – in our example – michele as the username along with the password linked to the account:

You will have almost instant access to the contents of the shared folder in the local network:

Remember that when sharing folders on the local network from the Windows environment, it is essential to verify that the user accounts have an associated password. You cannot access a shared Windows resource by specifying only the user name and leaving the password field empty. Configuring user accounts without passwords is, among other things, a highly discouraged practice. From the Windows User Accounts window, make sure that each account has a password.

In addition, the network interface used for the LAN connection in Windows Vista and Windows 7 must be set up as a Corporate Network or as a Home Network otherwise it will not be possible to access the resources shared on this machine. The verification can be done at the Network and Sharing Center.

Also from the main window of the Network and Sharing Center, you will have to click on Change advanced sharing settings:

In the File and Printer Sharing section (Home or Job, Current Profile), select the Enable File and Printer Sharing option:

To apply the changes, you must click the Save Changes button.

By checking the Remember password box in ES File Manager, the Android application will remember the credentials you just entered.

By “Stopping” on any of the files in the shared folder, ES File Manager will allow you to open them (provided that an application capable of handling the selected data format is installed on your Android device).

Keeping pressed on the file of interest, shared in LAN, it will be possible to carry out a whole series of operations:

Copy to, for example, allows you to choose the folder in which to copy the selected file.

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