[Android] Best free file manager

Some (most) phones come with file manager apps; others do not. The brilliance of Android is even for those that have file manager apps, you can still download a different file manager app if you want from Android Market. This article explores and recommends the best free file manager app for Android.

This article is part of our Best Free Android Apps repository. Feel free to drop by when you have time!

Table of Contents

Best Free File Manager

App Name: Explorer

Developer: Speed Software

Download Size: 220 KB

Version Reviewed: v1.0

Requires: Android 1.1 and up

Pros

  • Lightweight, fast, and efficient.
  • Provides all the basic file management features.
  • Doesn’t require any dubious access permissions (only requires one permission).
  • Allows users to view files/folders in simple list, detailed list, or icons view.
  • Can create ZIPs from files or folders.
  • Allows users to “bookmark” folders for quick access.
  • Ads free.

Cons

  • Not a root explorer.
  • Interface and icons are not very aesthetically pleasing nor are there any custom skins available.
  • Doesn’t contain many of the “bells and whistles” other file managers have such as app management, SMB server, etc.
  • Built-in text editor is average quality.

Discussion

File managers are a dime a dozen in Android Market. Trying to select the “best” out of them all is a difficult task seeing as a lot of them are quality apps. To determine the “best”, I looked for something that made a file manager stand apart from the rest. I found Explorer does not contain any special exemplary features. Rather, it differentiates itself from the horde by resorting to the basics: Explorer makes itself stand out by being lightweight (220 KB), fast, and efficient. It is a no-frills file manager that allows users to… manage their files. Plus it is ads free.

That said, however, the biggest drawback to Explorer I found is the lack of root management. If you want to access the system folders on your phone (i.e. root required) you will be asked to purchase Speed Software’s Root Explorer (about $4). While personally I find it to be ridiculous to ask $4 for a root manager considering there are cheaper (paid and free) root file managers out there, I will not hold the price of Explorer’s paid counterpart against it.

The bottom-line is if you are looking for a “feature-filled”, multi-functional manager, Explorer is not for you. However, if you are looking for a file manager that will get the job done, Explorer should be your app of choice.

Runner Up

App Name: File Expert

Developer: Geek Software Technology Inc.

Download Size: 1.05 MB

Version Reviewed: v3.0.9

Requires: Android 1.6 and up

Discussion

Explorer, as just discussed, is a bare-bones file manager. File Expert, on the other hands, is a feature-filled file manager that is not only a file manager, but also a root explorer (you must turn on root explorering capabilities manually through the preferences) and an app manager. Furthermore, it allows users to wirelessly access their phone by becoming an adhoc FTP/HTTP server, provides SMB support, and more. All this without ads.

Whereas Explorer’s aesthetics is nothing to write home about, File Expert has been expertly designed in regards to aesthetics and interface: It is visually attractive, easy to navigate, and simple to use. There are even two themes one can use (a light theme, which comes by default, and a dark theme, which needs to be downloaded – for free – afterwards).

Honestly and truly I had trouble deciding if Explorer or File Expert should be named best free file manager. In the end I decided to give Explorer the crown because its simplicity makes it stand out from the crowd, whereas there are other feature filled file managers out there. However, even as second place, I have no hesitancy in recommending File Expert for those that are looking for more *umph* in their file manager.

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19 comments

  1. Daniel (Brussels)

    I warmly recommend the excellent file manager: Total Commander who, after the success for Windows, has just seen the first version to appear for Android. See “Total Commander” in the Market (and install the plugins too).

  2. Harlan

    I like File Manager from Rhythm Software. File Manager has one feature that is very important to me that I haven’t seen anywhere else: a storage space analyzer. Other file managers can show the space taken by each file, but File Manager shows the space for each folder and can sort the display by size. I also think it has a cleaner and more natural UI than File Expert, although I know one’s UI preference is often a matter of which one a user used first.

  3. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Gonzo: Whoops, my bad. You are right it should be Root Explorer not Root Manager. Sometimes my fingers work faster than my brain. Fixed. Thanks for catching my mistake… I hate proofreading myself. xD

    Glad to see you post now and thank you for making dotTech a regular visit! :-)

  4. Gonzo

    Thanks Ashraf for all your software reviews (both for Android and for PC)!!!
    I’ve been following dottech for quite some time, but haven’t posted much tbh… :S (shame on me!).

    I was wondering: when you mention Root Manager (under Discussion for Explorer) shouldn’t it be Root Explorer instead?

    Keep up the great work you do!

  5. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Jyo: Eh, I don’t mind. I hijack my threads all the time, LMAO!

    @tejas: Cool – welcome to the ‘droid family!

    May I ask why the Captivate? Don’t get me wrong: Samsung Galaxy S phones are brilliant, but they are last year’s model. There are “better” options available, especially on AT&T (assuming you are on AT&T).

  6. Alex

    Hi,

    Thank you for choosing File Expert as Runner Up! Any questions or feature requests, please drop us an email to support@xageek.com

    Our goal is to create a free but most powerful file manager for Android, it must be fast, lightweight and easy to use with tons of features which people may use it everyday.

  7. Ashraf
    Author/Mr. Boss

    @Jyo: Yea, File Expert is a brilliant program. In my opinion, it blows the popular managers such as ES File Explorer and ASTRO File Manager out of the water. I personally am using Explorer as my main file manager right now but I also have File Expert installed in case I need root access. I am finding, however, that I never really do need access to my system folders.

    How many custom ROMs do they have for the Optimus T? I personally stay away from custom ROMs, but custom ROMs can really improve performance on phones. I though they had CyanogenMod of Optimus T, but it appears they don’t.

    No, I didn’t get the Optimus T and I probably won’t. I was thinking about getting it as a gift (I already have Nexus S, I don’t need it) but I have decided against it.

  8. Jyo

    Up until now I’ve been using the file explorer that comes with Super Manager, which has root capabilities (a must for me). But File expert looks very promising., I will give it a try.

    Btw, I flashed a custom rom on my optimus T (called void). It got rid of the lags I get occasionally on the stock rom, which I previously thought was just due to hardware. I’ve been getting more of those lags recently too on the stock (maybe because I like to kill processes), which finally pushed me to flash it. You got the optimus T yet? Any performance issues?