Unsolicited Question: Debian FTP Server with vsftpd and File Downloader (Windows Phone 8.1)

Unlike Android or iOS, Windows Phone 8.1 doesn't have many options for accessing servers, FTP, Samba or otherwise. Due to limitations to WP8.1, Lumia and other Windows Phone devices aren't bundled with file managers that include the ability to mount shares or access servers (Android devices such as the Sony Xperia, on the other hand, include File Commander or proprietary apps).

If you're running a Samba/CIFS or FTP share on your Linux network, you have a handful of free apps in Microsoft Store you can try. In my tests accessing a Debian Jessie FTP server with the most basic vsftpd configuration, File Downloader worked without any additional tweaking.

 

File Downloader's interface is somewhat of a mess and the ads constantly appearing don't help. However, it's free and works. The UI takes a bit of getting used to but once you understand that you have to manually use the Back key on your Windows Phone to access different locations for moving and copying files, File Downloader can be handy.

 
After copying files from one location, press the Back key and tap Local Storage to Paste the files there.



Unlike other apps in iOS, WP and Android that I've tried, File Downloader thankfully was authenticated by the Debian Jessie FTP server configured using vsftpd.

To set up an FTP connection using File Downloader:

1. In File Downloader, swipe to the Storage screen and tap FTP Connections.
2. Tap the Add icon and enter Connection Name, FTP Host and your User Name and Password.

Note: You can leave the Path blank.

 


I also tried ShareFolder Explorer, which was able to successfully access the vsftpd server but failed to complete any file transfers. Users who prefer the cleaner interface of ShareFolder Explorer for Windows Phone 8.1 might want to tweak their FTP server timeout settings in the server configuration file to get it to work.

As always, FTP isn't exactly the safest way to transfer files across a network, nor is it the most efficient or common, particularly for Windows Phone users. There are a dozen ways to manage files over a network that work better with Windows Phone 8.1, such as using apps for OneDrive, Dropbox, BitTorrent Sync or DropBox. If you want a straightforward FTP experience for moving and copying files between your Windows Phone device and a server, consider the FTP Server app for Windows Phone 8.1, which instantly transforms your Lumia to a file server and client with minimum fuss.

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