Article Updated: 11 Jan 2021
We present several completely ad-free File Manager apps for Android devices, either as an alternative to a built-in file manager app or once famous and widely used advanced ES File Explorer. All listed apps are free, do not contain advertisement and most of them do not track you and collect any analytics data*.
* Disclaimer: this is/was correct at the time of publishing this article. Developers are, of course, free to enable monetization (ads) and inject analytics data collection / tracking in their apps at any given point in time (e.g. with the very next app update), and this may no longer be true. Please, if you find out about important changes or if you have any suggestions for new apps that you wish to be included in this list, submit them in the comments section below. Thanks!
Best File Explorer / File Managers for Android – No ADS!
Click below on app titles or images to open their respective Google Play Store locations and install them.
- key features: extremely easy & user friendly, dark mode, media player
- downside: lacks few common file manager functions (for now, it gets regularly improved)
EDITOR’S CHOICE ✔
- key features: extremely capable and useful file manager, built-in file search, analysis & cleanup, supports cloud storage services (Google Drive, Dropbox, Box, OneDrive), network services (FTP/SFTP/FTPS/WebDAV/LAN/SMB) and more!
This amazing file manager covers 99% functions of ES File Explorer, and some missing ones can be achieved with other free apps. Not to mention that implementation of some features surpass ES File Explorer’s counter-parts by their simplicity, functionality and quality.
It comes with an easy no-gimmicks large and junk files analyzer and cleaner (be careful with this feature! clearing cache files of some games will render them non-functional and you may end up losing levels and points progress!), beautiful UI (user interface), app info and backup tool, cloud and local network drives support, built-in simple media player, FTP server – you can explore your phone’s both internal and external (SD card) storage from you PC’s web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Opera…) or FTP client (WinSCP, FileZilla, Total Commander…) and more! By comparison, in ES File Explorer’s built-in FTP/WEB file server, you could only access phone’s internal storage, but not the SD card. No the case with Cx File Explorer, though, as both storage locations are accessible through (S)FTP server!
This app does not track you e.g. it does not send any usage analytics data to Google or it’s own nor others 3rd party tracking services to the best of my knowledge (confirmed with a monitoring firewall app), but it will on a rare occasion contact 1e100.net Google’s domain [22.214.171.124:443 (sof02s32-in-f20.1e100.net)], most probably for periodical update checks (unconfirmed/unsure). Update (2021/JAN): Cx File Explorer is no longer doing it.
Cx File Explorer is currently (update: it still is in 2021!) our highly recommended app and No.1 candidate for permanent and complete replacement.
App is no longer available.
- key features: privacy / no analytics tracking
- key features: supports cloud services (e.g. Dropbox, Google Drive, Box), SMB Local Network / NAS Drives / Local Network Cloud
- key features: privacy / no analytics tracking
- key features: no ads, easy of use, custom sorting, advanced search, day/night (dark) theme
- planned features: Cloud Storage (Google, OneDrive…), root access, Wi-Fi file sharing
- key features: open source, donation/in-app unlock, apk/zip/rar/txt reader, cloud services support
- downside: Android Kit-Kat limited support / frequent crashing
EDITOR’S CHOICE ✔
Excellent file manager / file explorer app with unique and simple design (there is always a room for improvement, though), that comes with all essential features plus massive extras! There’s also a Pro version available if you wish to support the developers, but given how “little” extra features it offers (certainly not useless!), it’s unreal; hard to believe it even exists. App does not seem to contact outside servers, so it can be safe* to assume it does not use any analytics / tracking, either. What could you possibly want more for free? Definitely a keeper!
* we tested free version for Android only
- key features: simple clean design with some customization available, built-in quick Easy file sharing, FTP server, SFTP server, SMB / NAS network drive access, Redfish SMB for Windows by Skyjos, WebDAV, Windows/MacOS/Linux file sharing templates (this is practically same as SMB/NAS, kind of redundant TBH, but icons are nice LOL), Cloud Drive / Storage access for numerous services (DropBox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, ownCloud), built-in Media player (photo/video/audio) and more! Supports Android, iOS (iPhone, iPad), tvOS and MacOS devices (we also found Windows versions on 3rd party apps website, strangely no mention of it on official one), so you can unify your file managers across different platforms.
- downsides: Level of appearance customization should be better (e.g. offer even smaller line spacing / icon size preset with optional number of files display per each folder – currently it does not). Built-in audio player comes with a non-persistent widget (closes when you exit main app), and does not have playlists support, not even “add to playing” of individual songs to the current play session. No multi tab support ala ES File Explorer, this should definitely be considered in the future, given the vast amount of services this app supports, although, it has “CONNECTIONS” section in the sidebar drawer menu, to be fair. Number of connections to remote / network services is limited to 2 in free version (should be enough for ordinary users, but pros will have to pay a reasonable price for more). According to older reviews @ Google Play Store, app was asking users to upgrade (2018), and was ad-supported (2020 AUG). Well, given the amount of features, it is most likely developers need to find ways to attract users to upgrade or financially support its continuous development via alternate means.
Another interesting file explorer app, and the only one which shows you Android’s root location view/access out-of-the-box! Of course, it will be in read-only mode on non-rooted android devices. MK Explorer comes with all basic file related functions, plus some extras. It’s definitely a good app with unique features and great clean design worth considering, especially for novice users looking for a simple and ultra-clean design!
- key features: Modern material design that you can completely customize by icons/rows size, displayed level of details and general appearance, file search engine, file sorting, optional 2 windows (panels), direct access shortcuts, built-in basic music player, gallery viewer and text editor, no analytics / tracking.
- downsides: Audio music player does not support background activity when you exit the app, and it does not show music player widget during playback in curtain / notification drawer area. Unfortunately, no local network (NAS, SMB) features, FTP and Cloud drives support either.
ES File Explorer IS NOW HISTORY! – OR IS IT?
ES File Explorer app was removed from Google Play Store long time ago — in fact, it happened just two weeks after we had published this article! This was a pure coincidence! You can no longer find it in the largest and official Android Marketplace.
Earlier this year, according to forum posts and various online news sources, Baptiste Robert (alias Elliot Alderson on Twitter) discovered that ES File Explorer incorporates a hidden web server with open port that exposed all users on the same local WiFi network to HTTP web server vulnerability and potential unauthorized file access and download breach. ES Global announced a fix on January 18th (version 126.96.36.199), apologizing for the issue.
In above screenshot you can see how access to the open port looks like using vulnerable ES File Explorer version 188.8.131.52.2 and desktop version of Google Chrome browser. Directory listing is prohibited by default, so ordinary users will not be able to exploit it without some extra work e.g. server responds to unauthenticated application/json commands over HTTP.
And, as we’ve already written about it 2 years ago, ES File Explorer already had a lengthy record of wrong decisions and unethical practices, annoying users with obscure features and hidden ads.
All this is more than enough to seek a healthy alternative.
Amazon offers only the older last free version (from late December 2019), but you can get newest .apk file versions directly from APKPure and APKMirror sites and install it independently w/o their APK managers IF you (1) enable apps from unknown sources on your phone first and (2) (at least in my case) I had to restart my phone and then disable both Wi-Fi and Mobile Data internet access, because for some reason my phone was not allowing me to install it otherwise (“Install” button was not reacting at all – Play Protect?).
However, if you wish to go official route with apps available only from Google Play exclusively, then continue to read on.