To transfer data between an Android smartphone or tablet and a computer, you used to have to connect them via a USB cable. These days, plenty of Cloud services are available, which allow you to keep data from a phone or tablet in sync with a computer. That’s very convenient, but it does require a fast Internet connection, and it’s not all that great for moving large multimedia files.
One of the newest and perhaps easiest ways to transfer data from an Android smartphone or tablet to a computer is with an on-the-go (OTG) USB stick. There are a few of these sticks available these days from various vendors, including Imation, SanDisk, and Verbatim. These types of USB sticks have a microUSB head on one end, which can be plugged in to your Android phone or tablet, and a regular USB connection on the other end, to plug in to your computer.
They work in the most basic of ways: plug the USB key into your computer and transfer some files to it (be it music, movies, presentations for work, or masses of photos), then plug the USB key into your phone or tablet to access those files while you are on the go. The neat thing is that you don’t even have to transfer the files over to the smartphone or tablet to view them; you could just play them off the stick itself.
In order to view the files on an OTG USB stick, you have to use a file manager app on your mobile device. Usually, the USB stick manufacturers recommend one that they think is suitable for their device, but you can use whichever file manager app you’re comfortable with. Through this app, you can copy and paste files, move things around, or just view files.
More than a way to transfer files to a smartphone or tablet, a USB OTG stick can be used to transfer files between smartphones and between smartphones and tablets. It’s a good way to get data off a personal smartphone and a work smartphone, for example, or if you just want to share data with friends.
There is a caveat, though: in order to use an On-The-Go USB stick, your Android smartphone or tablet has to support the USB On-The-Go standard, too. This means the USB OTG port on the smartphone can act as a host to see the storage device that’s plugged into it. You’ll need to check with your smartphone manufacturer to see if your model supports OTG, or check the sites of the USB stick makers to see if your smartphone is on their compatibility list (we’ve listed their respective Web sites in our reviews of the devices).