Sunday, 17 July 2011

ES File Explorer phones home if you give it root access

ES File Explorer is one of the best file managers for Android. In addition to managing your local files and folders it has a built-in ftp client (but no ftp server), does bluetooth file transfers, connects to Samba servers, talks with Dropbox (and lets you transfer entire folders, which the official Dropbox app won't do), unpacks zip and rar archives, can put shortcuts to files on your home screens, and... works as a root explorer too.

The root explorer function of ES File Explorer means that you don't need apps like Root Explorer (which is not free) or File Expert (which has an inferior user interface).

The root explorer function of ES File Explorer used to work on a few ROMs only, but a recent update makes it work on all Android phones.

So far, so good. But there's a catch. ES File Explorer used to be a very well-behaved app that only went online when you told it to go online, e.g. when connecting to an ftp server or a Dropbox account. But when you enable root access ES File Explorer goes online everytime it runs, and it doesn't tell you why it goes online, what data it sends out, and how you can switch this suspicious behaviour off.

I'll give the app the benefit of the doubt for now. It probably sends out statistics to tell the developer if the root explorer code works. But maybe it does something else? More info from the developer would be appreciated, and an off switch for non-essential online activity is a must. Especially for an app with root access that can read all your files.

Of course you can stop ES File Explorer from phoning home with DroidWall, but then you miss out on its ftp and Dropbox features. You can also disable root acces for ES File Explorer (it doesn't go online then, unless you connect to a remote file server) and use File Expert when you need root access to play with your system folders.

ES File Explorer (Android Market)
ES File Explorer (EStrongs)
File Expert (Android Market)

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1 comment:

  1. Going online with root. Interesting. I was wondering if it was safe seeing as it seems to be made in China. Other than that it really is rather good