Should you ever format your USB

How to use a USB flash drive with your Android phone or tablet

Do you ever want to watch a video on your phone or tablet? Tablet without wasting space? Or maybe you just need to view a file your friend gave you. Most modern Android devices support standard USB drives, so you can connect a flash drive just like you would a computer.

Modern versions of Android have improved support for external storage devices, but some older devices may require root. We'll discuss both methods here, starting with the simple, non-root method for newer phones and tablets.

First, get a USB OTG cable

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You have probably noticed that your phone doesn't have a regular USB port. To connect the flash drive to your phone or tablet, you'll need a USB on-the-go cable (also known as USB OTG). These cables are available on Amazon for around $ 5. It's a short adapter cable with a small MicroUSB connector on one end and a larger USB connector on the other end.

Unfortunately, this may not work on some devices. Your Android device must be able to act as an OTG host. Some smartphones and tablets may not have this feature. So you might want to do a web search to see if your device is compatible before buying a cable.

Once you have it, just use the cable to connect your Android phone or tablet and USB drive together - done. You can also use this cable to connect other types of USB devices to your Android phone or tablet, such as: B. USB keyboards, mice and game pads.

Supported file systems

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Your USB drive should ideally be formatted with the FAT32 file system for maximum compatibility. Some Android devices may also support the exFAT file system. Unfortunately, no Android devices support Microsoft's NTFS file system.

If your device is not formatted with an if you are using the appropriate file system, you can format it after connecting it to your Android device. However, formatting the drive will erase its contents. So ideally, you should make sure that it is in the correct format when you transfer files to the drive for the first time.

The non-root method: For most newer devices

On modern versions of Android, you will receive a notification that the drive is "for transferring photos and media" after you plug it in. You will see a Browse button that will allow you to browse the files on the drive and an Eject button that will allow you to safely remove the drive.

If you're using an older version of Android, you may need the Root-StickMount-only app to access the files.

CONNECTED:Using the built-in file manager of Android 6.0

Tap the "Browse" button and the new Android file Manager will open and display the contents of the drive. You can browse and manage the files as usual. Just long press one or more files or folders to select them.

If you have videos, music, or movies on your device, you can tap them to open them in the Media Viewer applications on your device. In this way, for example, you can watch videos that are stored on a USB stick on your phone while traveling.

Of course, you can also install a third-party file manager app and use that instead of the file manager built into Android.

You can also open the Android Settings app and tap. Under “Storage & USB” you get an overview of the internal storage of your device and of all connected external storage devices. Tap the internal storage to view the files on your device using a file manager. You can then use the file manager to copy or move files to the USB flash drive.

In some apps, you can also save files directly to any storage medium or open files directly from a storage medium. These apps allow you to save and load files from an external drive.

When you're done, eject the drive and connect it to a computer or other Android device so you can transfer files back and forth.

If you want to customize more options, you can tap the menu button in the file manager while browsing the contents of the USB drive and tap Settings. You can also "format" the drive here to erase its contents without transferring them to a computer.

The root method: For devices that do not load USB drives

Some devices may support USB OTG, but others may not support USB drive loading (usually devices running an older version of Android). In those cases, you'll need to root your phone and use an app called StickMount to read your flash drive. If you don't have a version of Android with the new built-in file explorer, you'll also need a file explorer app like ES File Explorer.

We tested this process on our old Nexus 7 running 4.1 Jelly Bean, but there is no guarantee that this will be the same on every device. The older your device, the more likely it is to experience driver and other problems. So your mileage can vary.

Once these two apps are installed, plug one end of the USB OTG cable and connect the USB drive to the other end of the cable. When the drive is connected, a StickMount prompt will appear. Tap OK and StickMount will make the files on the USB device accessible.

You need to give StickMount root access. The process will fail here if you are not rooted.

If you agree to both dialogs, choose Use by default If you enable this option in the first dialog box, no dialog boxes will appear the next time you connect your USB drive. It all happens automatically.

You will receive a notification that StickMount has successfully provisioned the device under / sdcard / usbStorage.

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

At least one folder is displayed in the "usbStorage" folder. These folders represent the various partitions on your connected devices.

Tap on the folder and you will see the files inside. Long tap or press the files to open them or edit them normally.

In this case, I used this drive to watch a video on my tablet that is currently running out of space.

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


While the cable is a bit bulky, it's still handy for watching video on an airplane or while sitting in your house. You can also use it to move files for other purposes, just as you would use a USB drive on a computer.