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How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Your Android phone can read USB flash drives and even full-size SD Cards with the right tools and tips. Here’s a step by step guide.

Many Android phones use micro USB ports for charging and transferring files back and forth with your PC, but what if the files you need to email your boss are sitting on a Flash drive or a full-size SD card?

Fortunately, with an inexpensive adapter cable, you can attach a USB key or card reader directly to your handset. Here’s how to connect your Android phone to a USB storage device. If you have a newer Android phone that uses USB Type-C, it’s even easier.

What You Need to Connect USB Storage to Older Android Phones

  • A USB OTG (“On the Go”) cable with a male microUSB connector on one end and a female full size USB port on the other. You can buy the StarTech OTG cable we used for $3.99.

What About USB Type-C?

Many newer Android devices uses USB Type-C for charging and data. If that’s the case with your device, you have it easy. You’ll need just one of the following items:

  • A USB Type-C male to USB Type-A female adapter
  • A USB Type-C flash drive

An adapter will let you use your current flash drives. A USB Type-C flash drive, like this one, will fit directly into the phone without any dongles required. Then you just open your file manager and you’re good to go.

How to Connect with a USB OTG cable

1. Connect a flash drive (or SD reader with card) to the full-size USB female end of the adapter.

2. Connect OTG cable to your phone

3. Swipe down from the top to show the notification drawer. No need to do this if your file manager automatically appears.

4. Tap USB Drive.

You can now browse the files on the flash drive and copy them to the phone storage. If you want to copy from the phone storage to the flash drive, follow steps 5 to 9.

5. Tap Internal Storage to view the files on your phone.

6. Find the file you’d like to share. Hold down on it to select.

7. Tap the three dots button.

8. Select Copy.

9. Navigate to your USB drive and tap Done to copy the file.

Once the transfer process completes, unplug the flash drive and connect it to your PC.

Photo Credits: Jeremy Lips/Tom’s Guide

Is there any way to boot an Android phone* from a bus-powered USB drive**? If so, what are the steps to achieve this?

* E.g. one with USB OTG functionality.

3 Answers 3

Please clarify what is the intended goal and why?

Android phones have their own boot-loaders and cannot be overridden by other means.

It is not like a PC’s BIOS where you can switch the ordering of boot to boot from certain devices such as Network PXE, USB, Primary/Secondary H.D.D.

After the comments below, and in relation to the OP’s question

Is there any way to boot an Android phone (E.g. one with USB OTG functionality.) via way of a bus-powered USB drive

The generic boot-loader (*which resides on the chip-set) has no knowledge of USB etc, as the lk (Little Kernel) is more concerned about trapping keystrokes in order to chain-load into recovery or to boot directly into Android environment (When holding Vol+Down key in this instance) – in pseudo-code (this is from the context/aspect of lk, and also, the memory addresses pertaining to how to read the partitions are hard-coded into this lk so it will know how to process the logic!)

The lk kernel is the de-facto standard by Qualcomm for MSM chipsets (Snapdragon) and adopted by manufacturers such as Sony, Motorola, LG, Samsung and can be found in the AOSP source under bootable/bootloader .

if (Is Volume Down key pressed?) then

  • chain-load kernel from /recovery partition into particular address in memory and jump to it and start execution, in bringing up the recovery environment

else

  • chain-load kernel from /system partition into particular address in memory and jump to it and start execution in bringing up the Android environment.

end if.

As the kernel within lk is pretty limited, considering that the binary image of the kernel is burned into the chip and therefore no way of modifying it. And also should be mentioned that lk contains the fastboot protocol in preparation for flashing /boot , /recovery , /system and /data partitions. There are two sequences to boot, primary boot and secondary boot as it is:

  • Primary Boot -> lk (depending on outcome of logic)
  • Go into Secondary Boot -> /boot or /recovery

Side note: Samsung is fond of the PBL/SBL (Which is Primary Boot Loader and Secondary Boot Loader respectively) in their jargon when it comes to modding. Thing about Samsung, is that, in some handsets, PBL and SBL may be encrypted (Samsung Wave GT-S8500 is one such example, where porting Android to it was nearly impossible to do because of the DRM within the boot loaders which was a nightmare to deal with and made modding it extremely difficult, nonetheless, it is sort of working via an exploit in the FOTA code!)

This is why there are no extra facilities such as OTG functionality or anything else such as serial communications, reading from SDCard, graphics etc as it would make the lk kernel bigger than is intended. In other words, it is the smallest possible size of kernel that is designated to do just the above pseudo-code happen.

Also, another way of looking at it is this, and this is dependent on the Android version – the USB OTG functionality is fully brought up within the Android environment, i.e when the familiar home screen appears, then OTG’s functionality is enabled. Unfortunately not the case when looking at it from lk’s perspective.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

There may be moments when you need to see files on your flash drive, or on a memory card, and all you have around is your Android device. Well, as long as your device supports USB-on-the-Go and you have an adapter, you can use them.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Android USB On-the-Go

First of all, let’s see what you’ll need. There are two essential things: a USB-on-the-Go adapter or cable, about which I’ve talked in a previous article, where I was describing how you can use a keyboard and mouse with an Android device.

The second very important thing you’ll need is an app called Nexus Media Importer. This is not a free app, it costs $3.99, but it’s well worth the price. Don’t be fooled by the name; the app works with other devices than Nexus ones, as long as they’re running a version of Android newer than 4.0 (ironically, not the Nexus 4). Rooting is not necessary.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Obviously, you’ll also need a card reader and card or a USB flash drive. Now, after buying and installing the app, just connect your flash drive or card reader with card in it to the USB-On-The-Go adapter. Then allow the app to access this USB device.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Nexus Media Importer allows you to easily manage files on your flash drive or card, which it can organize into categories, such as Photos or Music. It includes a useful photo viewer, and also allows you to play media with the apps installed on your Android device. It’s extremely easy to use and you can also copy files to your smartphone or tablet.

However, the best part is that it allows you to view content directly from the external media, which could be very useful especially if your Android device has limited memory and you want to watch a movie, for example.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Have you used your Android’s USB On-the-Go feature yet? Leave a comment and tell us about it!

Can I make bootable USB from Android? How do I create a bootable USB from Android? Please help me!

A large number of people in the world use Android phones due to their attractive features and flexibility. So, a lot of Android users have asked, they want to create a bootable media from their Android devices. It may seem like a very different request from the user’s perspective for wanting to make bootable USB from Android but it can be helpful is several situations. And all of it is discussed in this article!

Solutions on How to Create Bootable USB from Android

Most people do not have the slightest idea how to create Android bootable USB, and there is a reason for it. First, and foremost this is a very unconventional method with very little use in real life. But recently people have asked about all over the internet and frankly, the procedure is quite easy.

But it does require a few things like a universal USB installer on your computer, a flash drive with at least 8 GB space and it has to support bootable option on a Windows computer. Here, we are using Universal USB installer as Android bootable USB creator and it works very effectively. After you have gathered all of these, follow the instructions below;

Step 1: Download the Android ISO on your computer. There are 64 bit and 32 bit versions available, download any one you require. After that, extract the contents of the ISO into your computer. After the extraction, you will get the following files:
android-86_646.0-r3.iso
Credits.txt

Step 2: Now, it’s time to download the Universal USB installer on your computer. After that, extract the file and run Universal USB installer. After the extract, you will get the following files:
Credits.txt
Universal-USB-Installer-v1.9.7.8.exe

Step 3: Once you launch the Universal USB installer, you will face the main interface.

Step 4: First, click “I Agree” and then click on the “Distribution Option” and select “Android”.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Step 5: Now, click on “Browse” and find and select the Android ISO.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Step 6: Now, it is time to connect the USB drive to the computer. Select your USB drive from the program.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Step 7: Check “We will Fat32 Format”.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Step 8: Then, click “Yes” and in the following panel, click “Yes” to confirm.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Step 9: Now, you have to wait. The program will turn the USB drive into a bootable Android USB drive.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

This is one of the fastest ways to create a bootable USB from Android.

Bonus Tips: How to Create Bootable USB Disk from Windows

If you are trying to create a bootable disk from Windows then, there are a lot of programs available that will help you to make such USB disk very quickly and efficiently.

Unfortunately, there are just too many of them and it will be difficult for you to figure out which one will be the best for you. But taken everything into consideration and after numerous researches we have come up with a name and it is called PassFab 4WinKey.

4WinKey is designed by PassFab and it is one of the best ways to create a bootable USB disk from Windows. You need to use specifically 4WinKey Ultimate in order to achieve your goal properly. So, after you have downloaded and installed 4WinKey Ultimate, follow the procedure below.

Step 1: As you have already downloaded and install the program, launch it. In the main interface you will be asked to select a bootable media, choose USB.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Step 2: Now, connect a USB drive to the computer and click “Burn” to proceed. But you will be faced with a warning message stating that the USB drive will be formatted. Click “Yes” to proceed.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Step 3: Now, the burning process will begin and the progression will be visible on the panel of the 4WinKey.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Step 4: You probably have to wait a few minutes, but as soon as the procedure finishes, a notification will appear on the screen, confirming the completion of the process.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

This is the way to successfully create a bootable USB disk from Windows. It is an easier and adaptive procedure that gets the job done very quickly.

Summary

Now, to make it short, it is unprecedented to make Android boot from USB but it is possible and easier than you may have initially though. So, if you choose to boot Android from USB this article will be a great help to you. But if you go for the simpler procedures like creating a bootable USB disk from Windows, well it will be easy for you and tools to make such disk is easily available on the internet. Still if you are looking for a great software to get the job done and fast, then you will find nothing better than PassFab 4WinKey.

How to Make Your Android Phone into a USB Drive (how to)_

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Your Android phone not only makes phone calls and surfs the Web, but its SD card makes it a handy storage device for your work files. If you regularly use an Android phone, you might also want to read our article about how to upgrade to Android 4.0.

If your Android phone has an SD card, your computer views the whole thing as a big, expensive thumb drive.

You can then work on some of your files with another computer or use your phone’s apps to edit some files when you’re far away from your computer. Not only is this handy and functional, but there’s a definite cool factor when you plug your phone into your laptop while working in a coffee shop.

Here’s how to hook your Android phone to your computer

  1. Plug your Android device into your computer’s USB port. Most Android phones ship with a cable that will make this connection.
  2. Select “Mass Storage” when the dialog box pops up on your Android device. If you want to go through this process every time (which is recommended), select “Always Ask.”
  3. Click Done.
  4. Look at the next popup dialog box on your Android. It will ask if you want to turn on your USB storage. Click OK.
  5. Mount your Android device on your computer when prompted. On most operating systems this will happen automatically. Your device may be called “SD card” on your computer, but that varies with the operating system.

Now that you have your physical connection, what are you going to do with it?

  1. Open a file manager on your computer and locate your Android device.
  2. Create a new directory on your device and name it. This will be the home directory on your phone.
  3. Create, edit and save files to the home directory you just created on your phone.

Shutting down isn’t difficult, but it’s easy to mess things up and lose data. Here’s how to unhook your Android phone safely:

  1. Save and close all new files when you are done.
  2. Open a file manager, right-click on “SD card” and select Eject to unmount. Wait for the popup box telling you it is safe before unplugging the phone.

Taking this further:

If you work with plain .txt files, you can use a text editor to write and edit directly on your phone and bypass the computer. This is handy if inspiration strikes you when you’re away from the computer.

Your battery will charge when you are using the Android device as a USB drive. Enjoy this side benefit.

Apps that are installed to the phone’s SD card can not be accessed when it’s plugged into the computer, but you will still be able to make phone calls and send text messages.

If you like to move around when talking on the phone, buy an extra-long USB-to-phone cable or an extension. You don’t need the cable falling out of your phone while you’re using it.

Warnings:

Do not unplug your phone without unmounting it first. This will corrupt any files and directories you’re working on.

Stay out of any other directories on your phone unless you know what you’re doing. You could render the phone inoperable.

Using your SD card in this way may shorten its life, so back up all your phone files to your computer hard drive.

The use of Android phones to transfer files using a USB cable is usually simple to all users. This becomes more challenging when it involves using a flash drive and an OTG cable instead, especially to those who are novice computer users. An On the Go cable is a device that allows communication between mobile phones and flash drive, SD card reader. During the file transfer process, you should be careful to mark the correct location of the files to avoid losing them or unnecessary duplications.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Benefit of Transfering file via OTG

You can view the content or transfer file between flash drive and Android phone via OTG cable or flash drive with micro USB port. The OTG apply in all types of files whether PDF documents, audio file (MP3) or video files (MP4, avi) and photographs of all types. Unlike other transfer methods such as using Bluetooth connection, OTG has the following advantages:

1. OTG cables are usually fast, more secure and less prone to file loss. The cables provide a more stable avenue that cannot be easily interrupted allowing you to transfer your files easily and safely.

2. They also offer convenience since they are usually compatible with several devices such as Samsung, Android, Motorola and Huawei among others. With just one cable, you can connect different types of devices reducing the need to buy several cables.

3. In addition to saving money, this helps also helps with keeping the surrounding neat since you don’t have to worry about tangling wires. The OTG cables are usually short enough to allow their effective functionality without creating a mess. Being that they don’t distort the transferred files also adds to the advantage of their use.

How to Use OTG to Transfer Files to Android

Most people usually want to know how to transfer files between Android and flash drive via OTG use but end up losing those files by not paying attention keenly. The process isn’t complex but a simple mistake usually ends up costing most a lot. You should therefore connect flash drive on Android properly before proceeding to do anything else. In case of any data or file loss, you can use the appropriate Android Data Recovery app to help with their retrieval. With the different types and phone models, it can be difficult to know the right procedure for file transfers. Below are some helpful tips.

Step 1. Confirm your phone’s connectivity.

Once you have all the devices in place, the first step in using an OTG cable or a flash drive with micro-USB port is making sure it can be connected to your phone. To do this, use an OTG cable to connect a flash drive to your phone or connect your micro USB/Type-C USB flash drive to your phone directly.

You can also try using an app such as “USB OTG checker” to determine connectivity capacity. Na phone that has this ability will be able to identify the device easily. Since newer versions of Android devices have this ability in-built, one can go without testing them. All you need is a male and female adapter and the flash drive.

Step 2. Connect flash drive to Android phone via OTG.
Use OTG cable and USB flash drive:
Attach the female end of the OTG cable/OTG USB plug to the flash drive. The female end is the side that’s hollow while the male end is usually the protruding side. Simply insert the flash drive into the adapter. Once ready, attach your Android device to the other end of the cable.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Use micro USB/Type-C USB flash drive:
Insert your micro USB/Type-C USB flash drive to your phone’s USB port directly.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Step 3. When connection becomes successful, your phone will present a notification requesting to allow access.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Allow this then select the folder containing your files by clicking on it. In some cases this notification appears automatically while in other you’ll be forced to get it manually depending on the type of phone you have.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Step 4. After opening the folder with your files the next step is to transfer them.

Identify the specific files you need within that folder and select them by tapping and holding them for longer. After successful selection clicks on copy or import then click on the new location you want. The files will begin to move, showing progress rate on another notification bar.

Of course you can just view the photos or play the audio and videos on your flash drive without transfer to your Android phone.

Step 5. Once you see that all the files have been transferred successfully you can disconnect your cable by simply unplugging it. You can also give your phone the command to end connection before unplugging. Although it’s not necessary, you can decide to confirm if all the files you need have been copied before severing the connection. To do this, you will have to open the new folder and check for the new files.

Managing storage on your smartphone can be a hectic task, especially if it does not support micro SD card. And it seems like most flagship smartphone manufacturers these days, are following the Apple way of not using a micro SD on their iOS devices. But thankfully, you can use USB Flash Drive on Android and iOS to increase its storage. So, here is how it works.

Why some Smartphones do not support Micro SD card?

All Google’s smartphone (both Nexus and Pixel) comes with a fixed storage, just like the Apple’s iPone. Even the flagship killer – One plus 2 and 3, does not support micro SD card. So, why is that?

Well, first of all, you can not compare the storage quality of SD card to the phone’s internal storage. Not all storage are created equal. The phone’s internal storage offers much better performance than an SD card. And second, people often buy a cheap SD card (class 4 or 6) to save money.

This affects the overall performance of devices. And then the same folks complain about their device is getting sluggish, but indeed it’s the fault of their cheap SD card. So, to maintain the company’s reputation, Flagship smartphones manufacturer like Apple, Google, etc. don’t support micro SD card in the first place.

Use USB Flash Drive on Android Phone and Tablet

Almost every modern Android device are now compatible with the USB storage. All you have to do is just insert the USB and start exploring its content. But since there is no USB jack in your Android smartphone or tablet, you can not simply plug in your USB flash drive into it. And to fix this get a connector to connect your Android to USB storage. There is a there way to go about it.

And to fix this get a connector to connect your Android to USB storage. There are three ways to go about it.

1. Use a USB OTG cable. A regular OTG cable is cheap and works well for most of us. Simply connect your USB flash drive to one end of the cable and your Android smartphone to the other end. Next, open any File Explorer app (like ES File Explorer), go to local > and there you’ll see your USB flash drive. There you’ll have full read and write access i.e. you can play a video file, copy stuff from your phone to your flash drive and vice versa.

If you want to use an external HDD with your Android phone or tablet, then the regular OTG cable might not work for you. In such situations, instead of investing in a powered USB hub which are pretty expensive; you can buy the special OTG cable with the extra power outlet, where you can connect your Android micro USB charger to provided additional power require to spin the hard drive.

If your phone has a Type C connector (like the Nexus 5x or Oneplus 3), then you can buy a USB-C OTG Cable. They are slightly more expensive than regular micro USB OTG cable but works in the similar fashion.

2. Buy a USB flash drive that also has a micro USB slot at the other end. They are slightly more expensive (almost twice the cost) then the usual Flash drive. The good part with them is, you don’t have to worry about cables, but then this will only work for one Flash drive and not with others, like an OTG cable. So, if you want to watch movies while traveling, and then this is a good option.

3. Get a Wireless Hard drives. It does what the name says, i.e. when you press a button on this HDD, it creates a WiFi Hotspot, which you can join from your smartphone and tablet and then browse all the content of the drive using a File manager app. The good thing about the Wireless HDD is, it has a built-in battery, and you can connect multiple devices to it at the same time. While the downside is, they are pretty expensive, almost twice the cost for the same storage.

What to do if the USB flash drive is not detected?

First thing first, to find out if your device supports USB or not, simply run a Google search. If they don’t support USB OTG, there is nothing you can do about it. But if they do support OTG and it’s not working only for you. Then there are three things you can check.

1. Compatible File system

If you are smartphone is not able to detect your pen drive, then check the file system of your pen drive. Android only support FAT, FAT32 right out of the box. So, if your flash drive has NTFS, you need to format it (make sure to take the backup) and then re-insert it. This time it will work. Or you have a high-end smartphone; you can try USB plugin for Total Commander. I have written a detailed article on this here.

2. Nexus Media Player (Non-ROOT)

Some devices (like my old Nexus 7) do not detect an external Flash drive easily, but by using a special app like Nexus Media Player, you can get it working easily. The good part about the app is you don’t have to Root your phone, but you’ll have to pay for it.

3. StickMount (ROOT)

On some devices, you can get the USB support via OTG by just rooting it and using the right app to detect the USB partition. So, if you have a rooted Android or can ROOT your Android, then try the Stick Mount app.

Use USB Flash drive on iPhone and Ipad

Unlike Android, there is no easy way to use external USB flash drive on iPad and iPhone. You will need to Jailbreak your devices and install iFile from Cydia.

So, here is how it work, just like we use an OTG cable to connect a USB flash drive to Android; to do the same on your iPad and iPhone, you’ll have to buy Lightning to USB Camera Adapter ($30). Next, insert the lighting end to the iPad and connect the other end to the USB flash drive (should have FAT32 format). If you are using an external HDD, then you might have to use a USB powered hub to give it extra power. Once done, you will be able to find your USB flash drive inside the iFile app.

Unfortunately, since we don’t have a Jailbreak iPhone or iPad, we were not able to test it. But from what we gather from the online source, it worked pretty fine. But frankly, jailbreaking your iPad just to connect USB is not worth it in my opinion. So, I ended up streaming videos on my computer to my iPad over WiFi.

Have you ever been desperately in need of a flash drive but haven’t had one around? The simple solution, besides going out and buying one, may be to set up your Android as a flash drive. It may sound wacky, but it’s completely possible to set your Android device up and use it as a boot device. All it takes is a single application called Drivedroid.

This app works in almost all cases, but there are rare instances where some devices or kernels aren’t supported. Luckily it doesn’t take too long to set up so it’s worth giving it a try.

In this guide we’ll explain how you can use your Android as a flash drive with the Drivedroid tool and install an operating system onto a PC with a bootable .iso file. It should be noted that this guide requires root access.

Step 1 – Downloading Drivedroid & Setting Up

Firstly, you’ll need to download Drivedroid from the Google Play Store. There is a paid version of this application but the free version provides all of the functionality you will need to use your Android as a flash drive.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

When you open the application for the first time, it will ask if you’d like to go through the initial setup process. We would recommend choosing the setup – do not skip it. At this point the application will ask for root access. Please keep in mind that you will need your device to be rooted to use Drivedroid.

The first stage of the Drivedroid setup process will test whether your smartphone is capable of using the application or not. In the majority of cases, your smartphone will be supported, but if it is not supported, you will not be able to continue with this guide.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Next, the application will ask you to plug your smartphone into your PC via USB. Once you have plugged your smartphone in, tap the ‘I plugged in the USB cable’ button.

Next the app will ask you to choose a USB system. The application can predict what system works best for your particular device. Tap proceed, and then tap the option that has been listed at the top. In this example, the ‘Standard Android kernel’ option has appeared at the top – it may be different for your device!

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Your PC should now recognize the smartphone as a USB drive. Here is an example of what we have seen on our Windows 7 PC.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Next, tap the ‘I see an USB drive, proceed’ option within the application. You’ll now need to restart your PC and check whether you can choose your Android device within the boot menu. Typically boot buttons are F2, F8 or Delete key. You’ll find the particular on-screen instructions for your computer when it boots up, just before the OS loading screen appears.

Now tap on the app to let it know it has successfully been recognized as a boot device. Now tap the ‘close wizard’ button.

Once you have downloaded and set up the app, you’ll next need to locate and download a bootable .iso file that you can use alongside Drivedroid. If you’ve found this guide, chances are you may already have the files you need for installing a new operating system. However, if you don’t, you can actually find a lot of different Linux distros from within the application itself.

If you already have an .iso file you’d like to use, please skip step 2 and head straight to step 3. If you already have a bootable .iso tap the ‘+’ button at the bottom of the app UI, then tap ‘Add image from file.’

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Next, give the image any name you like – this is simply for your own reference. Click the search icon under the path option and then search for your .iso file. If you haven’t already, move it to your smartphone’s internal memory first.

Step 2 – Downloading your Bootable .iso

If you don’t have a bootable .iso already, tap the ‘+’ button at the bottom of the app UI, then tap download image. There are a number of options to choose from, including Debian, Fedora and Ubuntu. Tap on the option you’d like and download one of the available files.

Step 3 – Finishing the Process

Next, your created or download .iso file will appear on the main Drivedroid home page. From here, simply tap your .iso file and wait for the ‘host image’ pop-up to load. Next, tap the icon underneath the ‘read-only’ USB option.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

You can now disconnect your smartphone from your PC and connect it to the PC you’d like to boot the .iso onto. Make sure your PC is off and then go through your own PC’s boot menu to select the Android device as your flash drive.

That should be it – after this the process should be finished and your .iso will install onto your PC.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Say you’re going to a party and your friends have asked you to play amateur DJ. Your phone has some music on it, but there’s so much more on your thumb drive or external solid state drive. You don’t want to bring an entire laptop to the party! Why not hook it up to your phone?

Another scenario: you’re going on a long road trip or flight and you can’t imagine anything better than watching movies the whole time. Problem is, you can’t fit them all on the internal or removable storage on your Android phone. Bring your flash drive! It’s full of movies!

Connecting a USB flash storage device to your Android phone is cheap and easy. Let’s find out what you need and, finally, how to get everything connected and safely disconnected again.

  • How to check if your Android phone supports USB On-The-Go
  • What you’ll need to connect USB flash storage to your Android phone
  • How to connect a USB flash storage device to your Android phone
  • How to safely disconnect a USB flash storage device from your Android phone

How to check if your phone supports USB On-The-Go

Not all Android phones support USB On-The-Go (OTG) functionality. If you don’t have the correct guts in your phone you’re not going to be hooking anything up with OTG. Luckily, to check if your phone is compatible requires just one app download.

The Google Play Store has a great app called OTG? that you can download now on your phone. It scans your phone automatically and will let you know if you’re one of the lucky ones. If you are, keep reading.

What you’ll need to connect USB flash storage to your Android phone

Connecting USB flash storage to your Android phone is easy and cheap. Here’s what you’ll need:

A USB OTG cable

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Some Android phones, like the Galaxy S7, come with a USB OTG cable in the box — but most don’t. If your Android phone didn’t come with an OTG cable, you can pick them up off Amazon for super cheap.

This cable is what allows you to hook up your phone to your flash storage device. Without it you’re pooched.

The one linked to here is made by Ugreen — it’s $5, it has a one year warranty, and it works great. The cable is six inches long, so you’ll be able to set your flash storage device and phone down any way you’d like. Can’t really beat that.

A USB flash storage device

This one is largely up to you. Any storage with a USB connector will work as long as it’s formatted as FAT32. If you want a ton of storage you’ll probably want a solid state drive with a USB connector (but beware of the power draw — not all drives will work!). If you’re OK with less storage, a thumb drive will do the trick.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

If you don’t already have an OTG cable or a USB flash storage device, you can purchase an all-in-one flash drive and OTG connector. The one pictured here, made by Patriot, has 128GB of storage, has USB and micro-USB male connectors, and only costs about $40. You can plug it into your computer, transfer files onto it, then plug it into your phone and stream media without the need for a separate OTG cable.

How to connect a USB flash storage device to your Android phone

  1. Plug your USB OTG cable into your Android phone.
  2. Plug your USB flash storage device into the female connector of your OTG cable. The file explorer on your phone should automatically pop up.

That’s it! As long as your USB flash storage device is connected you’ll be able to play media from it. Be careful you don’t remove the storage device while using or transferring files.

How to safely disconnect a USB flash storage device from your Android phone

    Swipe down from the top of your phone’s screen.

Tap USB mass storage connected.

How to use a usb flash drive with your android phone or tablet

Simple as that. You can now safely unplug your flash storage device without risking corruption of any files.

Are you connected?

Do you use OTG cables to connect flash storage to your Android phone? Do you use a different method? Let us know in the comments section below!

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