Cloud storage made the task of transferring files wirelessly simple enough to happen automatically in the background. But is it really worth giving a company access to your files just to move them from one computer to another, often in the same building? Sometimes even the same room!
On Linux, some apps help you transfer files wirelessly between PCs that are still private and secure. Two of the most popular are KDE Connect and Warpinator. Which one might you want to use and when could you use it? Let's find out.
Two very different apps
First things first, this is not exactly an apple to apple comparison. While KDE Connect and Warpinator are both great options for transferring files, one of them has broader goals.
KDE Connect doesn't just handle file transfers. It synchronizes your mobile device with your PC so that you can receive notifications or manipulate one of the devices remotely. For example, you can use your computer to lock your phone's screen, or you can use your phone to control music playback on your desktop.
Most of the functionality of KDE Connect extends beyond anything Warpinator is trying to do. In this comparison, the focus will continue to be on how KDE Connect fares against Warpinator only when it comes to transferring files.
If you want to know what the rest of the features are, take a look at our in-depth overview of KDE Connect.
Compatibility with Android apps
KDE Connect and Warpinator each have compatible apps for Android on Google Play and F-Droid. The KDE Connect app is linked to the project, while the Warpinator app is unofficial and not linked to the Warpinator developers.
Both apps can be downloaded for free, regardless of which app store you choose.
First steps with Warpinator
Warpinator is from the Linux Mint project, but you don't need to use Linux Mint or any specific desktop environment. While the default Linux Mint desktop is Cinnamon, the app looks and works fine on GNOME. If you don't see Warpinator in the app store of your Linux distribution, you can simply install the app via Flathub.
If you have installed Warpinator on another device in your local network, the app will quickly recognize and display this device the first time it is started.
When you click on this device, you will see a button for sending files. Before we go any further, how does this part of the experience compare to KDE Connect?
Getting started with KDE Connect
KDE Connect is a heavily integrated part of KDE Plasma. If you have already installed the Plasma desktop, there is a possibility that you have already preinstalled KDE Connect.
If you don't have Plasma, you can still download the app from your Linux distribution's repositories. This will install some KDE libraries in the background and make the app work, but you forego the fancy desktop integration that comes with using Plasma. KDE Connect is not yet available as a Flatpak or Snap.
Like Warpinator, KDE Connect automatically detects other devices running KDE Connect on your network. But because of the sheer amount of functionality KDE Connect offers, you have more options to flip through before you find the option to transfer a file.
As soon as you click on Share file Option, KDE Connect and Warpinator are starting to show their similarities.
Transferring files in Warpinator and KDE Connect
When you start a file transfer in Warpinator or KDE Connect, the experience starts to converge. Both apps provide a request on the receiving device whether you want to accept the file. However, you have the option to turn off this prompt and receive files automatically.
At the time of writing, the KDE Connect prompts are actionable. You can accept or decline the transfer right from the pop-up notification. Warpinator notifications open the app, in which you have the option to accept or decline the request.
On the other hand, Warpinator makes it easier to find and keep track of all transferred files. When you click on a device, you'll see a list of files you've already sent or received. On a screen you can see which files are awaiting approval, which have been completed and how big those files are.
For files in transition, you will get a progress bar with file transfer speeds.
As a standalone app, KDE Connect doesn't give you that much feedback. When you send or receive a file, a window will pop up and you can view the file transfer speed if you're curious. By default, this window disappears when the transfer is complete. There's a button to open the file's destination folder before the window disappears.
As an integrated part of your desktop environment, this works in favor of KDE Connect. The service integrates nicely into Plasma's system tray, with the ability to monitor broadcasts if you want, but otherwise let them run in the background.
This goes to the heart of the difference between the two apps. Warpinator is a window that you specifically open when you want to send files and close when you're done, although you can leave the service running in the background. While KDE Connect is much more of an always-on service that you can bring to the fore when you need it.
Which app is better for file sharing?
In the end, it all comes down to two main questions:
Are you using KDE Plasma?
Want to do more than just send files between devices?
You will find that these questions are not about privacy or speed. That's because both apps transfer files between your local network without any intermediary servers involved. Speed has more to do with the speed of your network and devices than it does with the app you choose.
If you're already using KDE Plasma, there's no need to install Warpinator when KDE Connect can already get the job done.
If you're using a different desktop environment, KDE Connect is a lot to install just to transfer files. Warpinator is a simpler, more focused tool that still has a healthy set of features. However, if you want full integration between a computer and a phone then definitely go for KDE Connect. It's simply one of the best tools for the job regardless of your desktop environment or even your operating system.
How to wirelessly transfer files between Linux and Android using Warpinator
Do you want to wirelessly share files between your Linux and Android device? This is how it works with Warpinator.
About the author
(331 published articles)
Bertel is a digital minimalist who writes from a laptop with physical privacy switches and an operating system recommended by the Free Software Foundation. He values ethics over functions and helps others take control of their digital lives.
From Bertel King
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