Most of us, myself included, have become very comfortable with the way we access files on our computers. We open a folder in Windows Explorer, choose a file, and it opens in the correct application. Most mobile devices like the iPad and iPhone don’t have an easy way to browse for files, much less connect to a server in your office to allow you access to your really important documents. Apps are our saving grace though. There are a number of apps that make it easy to browse that shared folder on your file server. One such app I have started using lately is called FileExplorer by Steven Zhang. There is an app for both iPhone and iPad and both a free and pay version of each. So far I have only used the free version of the app. It lets me browse and access shared folders and open documents that are saved on my file server using my iPhone which, let’s face it, is pretty much the extent of what you would want to do with a file on that tiny little screen.
FileExplorer supports opening a number of popular file types inside the app, like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF to name a few. It allows you to access files on your office server over the local network and also allows you to connect to cloud services like DropBox and GoogleDocs. It is easy to connect to a new file location. You can put in the name of the server you want to connect to or let FileExplorer detect the computers on the network and select the one you want. You will need to provide your Windows username and password in order for FileExplorer to connect to your office server, but once you have done that you have access to all the files and folders you would from your desktop. Want to make this app even more productive? Set up your iPhone or iPad with a VPN connection back to the office and you can access your files while you are away!
FileExplorer does have one major shortcoming. It doesn’t allow you to edit any of the documents. You can open a document in another app for editing from the menu inside FileExplorer. The free version of the app does not allow you to upload files back to the server share. If you are looking only to be able to read and view files, then this is the perfect tool for you. For $2.99 you gain the ability to upload files back to the file server as well as the ability to connect to multiple server and cloud services.
Mobile devices really allow us to do more and in more places, but it can be hard to learn how to do things in a new way. As we make the transition to the cloud where these devices really shine, apps like FileExplorer help us to bridge the gap. I highly recommend you try an app like FileExplorer for accessing your network files. The tools are there, and although it may take some creative thinking, our mobile devices are the office of the future.