How to Use a USB Drive on Android Devices

How to Use a USB Drive on Android Devices

The Nexus 7 doesn’t exactly have a lot of storage space, especially on the original 8GB model, so your best bet is to connect a USB flash drive directly to your smartphone if your want to watch videos, listen to music, or access other important files. But how do you do that?

Well the bad part is that Android devices don’t automatically mount USB drive functionality to them by default. You’ll need to root your device to enable support for USB flash drives in a traditional, practical sense.

For this short DIY project, you need the following 4 tools:

USB OTG Adapter Cable – This is a incredibly useful gadget where one end of the cable plugs into the micro USB connector on your Nexus 7 and one end allows you to connect standard USB 2.0 devices, such as USB flash drives or external hard drives. You can purchase these cables for around $2 – $5 through online retailers like Amazon or eBay. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you could also build your own USB OTG cable as well.

Rooted Nexus 7 (or another Android Tablet or smartphone) – If you’ve previously rooted your Android phone then you’re in the clear. However if you haven’t rooted your phone yet or aren’t sure about the implications or possible dangers of rooting then take a look at our official how to root your android phone tutorial. If you have any other questions concerning rooting android devices, leave them in the comments section below.

The StickMount App – This is available free to download directly from the Google Play Store. Just keep in mind that the application will only work if your device is rooted. There’s no getting around it in this case.

ES File Explorer or Another File Manager Application – We will be using the ES File Explorer application in this case, but you can also use another file manager if you decide you’re more comfortable with that.

Getting Access to the USB Drive

With you Android device rooted, plug one end of the USB OTG cable into it and then connect the USB flash drive to the other end of the OTG cable. You will see a StickMount prompt when the USB drive is connected successfully. Hit OK and StickMount will then make the files on the USB device accessible to your on your Android tablet or phone.

Remember that you will need to grant root access to StickMount. The process will fail here if you aren’t rooted properly.

If you agree to both dialogs and select the Use by default option in the first dialog, then you will not see any dialogs when you next connect your USB drive – this will happen automatically.

You’ll see a notification indicating that StickMount successfully mounted the device under /sdcard/usbStorage.

Open the ES File Explorer app on your device and tap the usbStorge folder.

You’ll see at least one folder inside the usbStorage folder. These folders represent the different partitions on your connected devices.

Select the folder and you’ll see the files inside it. You can tap or long-press on the files to open them or manipulate them normally.

For example, this is particularly useful for watching video files, which can take up a lot of space on your tablet.

When you’re done, you can tap the StickMount option in your notification tray to unmount (eject) the drive and then disconnect it. This notification also informs you when StickMount has successfully mounted a drive.

While the cable is a tad bit bulky, it’s still convenient for watching videos on an airplane or while sitting around your house. You can also use it to move files around for any other purpose, just as you’d use a USB drive on a computer.

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Vincent Clarke

Vincent Clarke is the Universal Serial Bus (USB) Guru for When he's not writing tutorials and catching up on the latest USB news, Vincent is busy preparing his next blog post and answering USB questions from his readers and subscribers.

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