Selfies, HD & 4K video, saved Snaps and of course, everyday photos. Your phone’s storage dutifully accepts and retains torrents of incoming data for a lifetime (on average about 21.7 months). And while options abound for offloading your phone’s data, they aren’t all equal. Continue reading to find out how you can enjoy fast Android file transfers on your network.
Why are local network file transfers on Android so @$^% slow?!
To find out, we lined up the following items:
· LG G6 (Snapdragon 821, Android 7.0)
· ES File Explorer Pro
· Netgear Nighthawk R700P
· QNAP NAS TS-563 (RAID6 w/SSD Cache)
· One video file measuring 1.5GB in size
The tests were conducted using a single 1.5GB file, uploaded to and downloaded from the QNAP using SMB and FTP protocols. For its part, the LG will be connected to the Nighthawk’s 5GHz band on 802.11ac with an 80MHz channel width and using MU-MIMO.
First, we tested the network via a wired connection to be sure no funny business could be attributed to the LAN backbone, nor the NAS.
With everything appearing fine here (save for a bit of cache under-run on the NAS when downloading) we moved on to testing the handset on the same WiFi AP.
SMB File Transfer
Server Message Block, or SMB for short is a protocol used to interface with network resources. These days SMB is most often used for transferring file data within networks. During testing, the LG began to heat up, quite a bit actually. As a result, the handset took a measurable hit in throughput. Turns out that this was mostly an issue for SMB, but more on that later. To maintain repeatable test results, the phone was cooled to about 48° Fahrenheit (9°C), and placed back into the freezer after each round of testing.
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) has long been the standard protocol used for transferring files between a client and server on a network. We like to think of FTP as the granddaddy of available file transfer protocols. FTP is built on a client-server model architecture and uses separate control and data connections between the client and the server. What does that mean? Well in the case of this test, it means that the handset is able to transfer data in a less bureaucratic way, spending more time transferring your file’s bits, instead of talking to the data source about how and when to transfer them. It’s likely obvious at this point which one we favor.
Clearly, FTP is the winner here, but why?
As we mentioned earlier, FTP communicates in a more direct fashion when managing data transfers. The protocol has less overhead when asking for, or offering data with a server. It is because of this that more of the computing power available to clients and servers can be dedicated to the task at hand. Remember how we said the LG handset started to heat up when using SMB? The “B” in SMB stands for “Block”. The overhead of communicating each “block” of data with the server hamstrings the client’s efforts, especially in this case as the LG’s processing power is limited, relative to a modern desktop PC.
Is SMB dead?
Maybe not. Recently a new version was released with Windows 10, predictably-named SMB 3.0. It is said to greatly enhance network data transfer performance, while costing less in compute overhead. Sadly, the latest version is not yet available on Android (maybe in fuchsia OS?) so we weren’t able to test it.
Fast Android File Transfers
So for fast android file transfers on your home network, FTP is (for now, and the foreseeable future) the way to go. Obviously, connecting an ethernet dongle would help somewhat, though we didn’t feel the need to test one as the pitfalls persist. Now we should point out that setting up FTP on your home network can be a bit tricky for newbies, but if you’re up to the task, check out CuteFTP Server, or FileZilla Server.