How to: Use Your Android as a Flash Drive

Have you ever been desperately in need of a flash drive but haven’t had one around? The simple solution, besides going out and buying one, may be to set up your Android as a flash drive. It may sound wacky, but it’s completely possible to set your Android device up and use it as a boot device. All it takes is a single application called Drivedroid.

This app works in almost all cases, but there are rare instances where some devices or kernels aren’t supported. Luckily it doesn’t take too long to set up so it’s worth giving it a try.

In this guide we’ll explain how you can use your Android as a flash drive with the Drivedroid tool and install an operating system onto a PC with a bootable .iso file. It should be noted that this guide requires root access.

Step 1 – Downloading Drivedroid & Setting Up

Firstly, you’ll need to download Drivedroid from the Google Play Store. There is a paid version of this application but the free version provides all of the functionality you will need to use your Android as a flash drive.

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When you open the application for the first time, it will ask if you’d like to go through the initial setup process. We would recommend choosing the setup – do not skip it. At this point the application will ask for root access. Please keep in mind that you will need your device to be rooted to use Drivedroid.

The first stage of the Drivedroid setup process will test whether your smartphone is capable of using the application or not. In the majority of cases, your smartphone will be supported, but if it is not supported, you will not be able to continue with this guide.

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Next, the application will ask you to plug your smartphone into your PC via USB. Once you have plugged your smartphone in, tap the ‘I plugged in the USB cable’ button.

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Next the app will ask you to choose a USB system. The application can predict what system works best for your particular device. Tap proceed, and then tap the option that has been listed at the top. In this example, the ‘Standard Android kernel’ option has appeared at the top – it may be different for your device!

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Your PC should now recognize the smartphone as a USB drive. Here is an example of what we have seen on our Windows 7 PC.

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Next, tap the ‘I see an USB drive, proceed’ option within the application. You’ll now need to restart your PC and check whether you can choose your Android device within the boot menu. Typically boot buttons are F2, F8 or Delete key. You’ll find the particular on-screen instructions for your computer when it boots up, just before the OS loading screen appears.

Now tap on the app to let it know it has successfully been recognized as a boot device. Now tap the ‘close wizard’ button.

Once you have downloaded and set up the app, you’ll next need to locate and download a bootable .iso file that you can use alongside Drivedroid. If you’ve found this guide, chances are you may already have the files you need for installing a new operating system. However, if you don’t, you can actually find a lot of different Linux distros from within the application itself.

If you already have an .iso file you’d like to use, please skip step 2 and head straight to step 3. If you already have a bootable .iso tap the ‘+’ button at the bottom of the app UI, then tap ‘Add image from file.’

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Next, give the image any name you like – this is simply for your own reference. Click the search icon under the path option and then search for your .iso file. If you haven’t already, move it to your smartphone’s internal memory first.

Step 2 – Downloading your Bootable .iso

If you don’t have a bootable .iso already, tap the ‘+’ button at the bottom of the app UI, then tap download image. There are a number of options to choose from, including Debian, Fedora and Ubuntu. Tap on the option you’d like and download one of the available files.

Step 3 – Finishing the Process

Next, your created or download .iso file will appear on the main Drivedroid home page. From here, simply tap your .iso file and wait for the ‘host image’ pop-up to load. Next, tap the icon underneath the ‘read-only’ USB option.

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You can now disconnect your smartphone from your PC and connect it to the PC you’d like to boot the .iso onto. Make sure your PC is off and then go through your own PC’s boot menu to select the Android device as your flash drive.

That should be it – after this the process should be finished and your .iso will install onto your PC.

Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

Expert Tip

How to: Use Your Android as a Flash Drive

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