How to Wirelessly Transfer Files Among Computers and Mobile Devices at Sea

These days there is more and more use of tablets and phones for navigation, weather work, and communications, but it still is often the case that the best navigation programs for optimum navigation or GRIB file viewing for optimum weather analysis are PC or Mac computers.

We combine that with the fact that the most cost effective source of data at sea is often sat com via a dedicated receiver  wirelessly connected to mobile devices.  The Iridium Go, for example collects data efficiently but interacts only with dedicated apps in tablets or phones, not computers. So if you download a GRIB file from one source, you may want to move it to another.

One clear example of that is the use of LuckGrib or Ocens Weathernet on an iPad to download a weather file and then move it to a PC running Expedition. Or you get mail and attached GRIB files by iPhone and Iridium Go and then want to move them to a PC or Mac to run in OpenCPN. And so on.

One way to do this is to use iTunes, but that is often not as smooth as we like and sometimes tricky to get set up, and it takes a wire between devices that may not be close together.  There is a much easier way.

Various portable routers from satcom receiver or relay devices

We just use a free file transfer app on an iPhone and the local network from our Iridium GO, or Red Port Optimizer, or Ocens SideKick, one or the other of which we might have on boat already—or we invest $20 and buy a slick portable router from HooToo.

There are numerous free iOS apps that look like they will do the job, but the one we have been using can be found at this link to the iOS app store.  I give this because I cannot seem to find it searching by name (what is its name?). I must have found it by random accident.  But later on opening a couple others, I revert back to this one.  (Read whole story before getting this app!)

When app first opens, press All on the bottom, then on this screen (which will not have files on it when you first open it) press the 3-dot menu top right to see screen below this one.

The screen below then shows what IP you type into a browser of other computers or devices.

Note that all devices must be on the same local network.... and if you change that network, the IP address will change but you will not lose the file links you have associated with this transfer tool.  You are not actually moving or copying files when you put them in here or take them out.  When you put one in, it just records where it is, then if you go to another device, and download it, it will move the file wirelessly from that location to the new one you chose.

Again, putting files in and out of this display does not risk them, nor duplicate them.

You will then see the list of files on all of your devices, and you can download them to the device if you like.  Below is a short video showing some of this... but it is a bit chaotic as I tried to manipulate three or four systems at the same time I was talking!

File Transfer at Sea 1 — Wireless Options

File Transfer at Sea 2 — HooToo Router

Note that when using the HooToo Router for the network and using the Easy Transfer app for the file transfers (noted above), you do not need to have a thumbdrive in the HooToo router.  That seems to be needed only when using the HooToo app, called TripMate.

For iPhone users, the key step is getting the files into the right place to transfer. This is covered in a separate blog post (Moving Files Around on an iPhone or iPad) which includes the video below.

File Transfer at Sea 3 — Moving Files Around on iPhone/iPad


I had made this as a comment, but now think it should be more prominent.

We have also found that this is very quick and easy solution when Mac Airdrop is not working. Periodically the Airdrop just does not work, we have seen that quite a few times—which then calls for rebooting one of the machines involved. Now we just send the files with this method: just open browser, goto the IP address (now bookmarked) and drag in the file. Instantly transfers. In fact, maybe even faster than a working Airdrop system.


Feb 17 Note: The File Transfer app described above quit working on the key element of moving files to the folder on a phone to prepare then to be sent to a computer or other phone. It obviously worked at some point as you see the files in the screen cap above, but something changed and I cannot move any file to that folder any longer. Tried deleting apps and reinstalling. No luck. Also there is no help file and the author does not respond to emails. So we have to pass on this one.

Here is one that seems to work fine on all levels. Slightly different procedure, but easy to follow.  Try this one also free. Has a pay option to remove ads, but it seems ads pop up only once in a while and easy to close.

You can find this app here (File Transfer App).  This is our new recommendation. I will remove the other app as soon as I can redo the videos that plug it.


We have a related article on How to move files around on an iPhone or iPad.


Popular posts from this blog

Free Barometer App Designed for Mariners

Davis Mark 3 Sextant Part 1 — How to read the Angle Scales

Finding Watch Rate