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Get Files To Your Windows Phone: The Cloud or the Server

So we’re still lacking USB mass storage on Windows Phone (you know, the ability to plug your phone into USB and just drag and drop any file onto it so they’re handy if you need them). So if you want to have files available for you there are two really simple ways to do it (aside from just emailing the dang thing to yourself which works but not if you want a lot of files). To get access to your computer’s files you can just establish a locally hosted server so that your PC is the host and your phone can just be directed to a website and from there you can browse and view files on your PC. The advantage is that all you need to do is have the server running and your files are waiting for you. The disadvantage of this method is that it’s not that secure and if you’re in a corporate environment you’ll need the admin to unblock the corporate firewall and grant you permission to do this – which they’ll fight you on. You should tell them you’ll turn it on/off as needed and see if they go for it (but they won’t). Anyway a real simple way to get this working is to use A Very Simple Webserver which is free (there’s a video there as well). You just run it on your PC, point it to the folder you want to share, hit start and then navigate to the url it provides on your phone.

However, since I’m blocked by firewalls and admins I’m using the cloud. Yup, the thing MS wants me to do. Simply navigate to on your PC and login using you Live ID and it’s all there for you. Well of course, your photos from your Windows Phones are there if you set up your photos to upload to SkyDrive (which is actually really nice when you use it because the photos are waiting there on the PC when you want them and it’s simple to share). Anyway, on the document side, you can just go to the “Office” tab and you’ll see there are a few folders already there for you to drag and drop documents, music, pictures and videos. You can add more folders, add subfolders and it really doesn’t matter if you choose to throw jpgs into the Documents folder – they’re there for you so they don’t force you to be organized. So if you’re going to go to a meeting and you want to have everything available just in case, just drag and drop it into a folder on SkyDrive.  On your phone navigate to and you’ll get a mobile version of the website that lets you easily get to all of your documents, pdfs, images, etc. One other advantage of this method is that if you go to any PC you can navigate to your SkyDrive and not just access your files but from within Live you can open documents within the browser (which is a browser based version of Word that’s more than usable for general editing) and if you’ve linked your corporate email to your Live account then you can email from with and it will show as sent from your corporate email (but be obvious to the recipient that it was within Hotmail). Nonetheless, without saving anything on a local PC, you can go to a meeting and have everything you care about your office available within Live and you don’t need to learn a new interface…you use MS Office at your desk and you can use it on the go as well and it’s all free. The downside of all of this, of course, is that you need to be more specific about the files that you’re syncing and you can’t just have unlimited access to your local/network drives.

With either the server or cloud method the files will be local once you download them. Documents can be saved into the Office Hub and once you open an Adobe it will be available when you open the Adobe Reader on the first page to open. So those are now locally available. Of course, you can save images this way as well for local access.

So no, none of this is really as good as having mass storage available, but it’s not as bad as I feared either. I’m living in the cloud and if I need to have files available, it’s pretty hassle free. Anyway, how are you all coping with it? I mean, if you have a SharePoint server then you don’t care about this stuff but that’s not everywhere, so what solutions are you using to use WP7 in a corporate environment?