Hey everyone! Here at HackCollege we’re starting a new weekly feature covering applications and extensions that save you time and help make your life as a student easier. We’re going to be platform agnostic, so that means we’re open to everything out there – Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and even gaming consoles – if it helps you access information or entertainment, we’re going to cover it. This week, I’m going to introduce you to a neat little application called DiskAid.

What it is: Have you ever been frustrated about not being able to access the files on your iOS device? While Apple supported the ability to use old school iPods in disk mode, in typical Apple dictatorial fashion, it removed the ability to do so with iOS devices (that means iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch). To regain this lost feature, today I introduce you to DiskAid. DiskAid is an iOS file system browser. After connecting your iOS device via USB, it allows you to read/write your device’s files from a pleasant and intuitive GUI.

Platform Availability: Windows XP SP 3 and higher, Mac OS X 10.5 and higher

Cost: Free for students! Just visit this link to have your .edu email address associated with a free educational DiskAid license

And as expected, DiskAid looks a lot uglier in Windows. 

What it does: Browse your iOS device’s files – Duh! Beyond simple Finder/Windows Explorer functionality like reading files and writing files to the phone, there are several more interesting features.

Perfect for TFLN…

  1. Bookmarks – DiskAid gives you several handy bookmarks to frequently accessed iOS device folders by default – Quickly browse through your messages, voicemails, notes, etc. You can even backup all this data – especially helpful for uploading your friend’s drunken texts to Texts from Last Night or if you’re sexting!
  2. Copy Camera Roll pictures – If you hate iTunes/iPhoto or you just want to upload a few instead of all your pictures to your computer, you can easily do that from the media folder.
  3. Root access – You can access every part of your device, even without jailbraking.
  4. Use your device like a flash drive – Now there’s no need to carry around a flash drive or use Dropbox if you’re super sensitive about privacy issues. Turn your device into a portable flash drive! Handy for students to bring along your documents wherever you go.

 The Competition: iPhone Explorer - Free – Windows XP and up and Mac OS X 10.5 and up

 iPhone Browser – Windows GUI for manipulating files on the jailbroken iPhone – Free – Windows XP and up only

Why the featured app is best: They’re all free, so cost is a moot point.

iPhone Explorer also features a (depending on whom you ask) handy/annoying preview pane feature.

iPhone Explorer – It’s fine on a Mac, but iPhone Explorer simply does not work well in Windows. You can’t delete files off your device, and it also has a nasty habit of hanging and crashing. In general, it just feels sluggish. You’ll often wait for the GUI to catch up while you browse through files, which is not the case with DiskAid. In Windows, its GUI is also less elegant than DiskAid’s Windows GUI, which retains the bookmarks feature while iPhone Explorer does not.

iPhone Browser – First off, there’s no Mac support, which sucks. Second, you need a jailbroken iOS device for it to be able to access your root, and jailbreaking is something that not everyone is entirely comfortable with doing. On top of that, it has very poor drag and drop functionality – you can’t even transfer files from your device to your computer! It’s really designed more for jailbreakers to customize the innards of their device rather than users who just want to access the root. As such, it’s a lot more complicated and finnicky. 

Summary – DiskAid is the best option if you want to access your iOS device’s files and don’t want to SSH into your device (a whole other beast and a post for another day) for both Windows and Mac users. It has the prettiest and most intuitive GUI, handy bookmarks, and simply works as intended without crashing or hanging. It’s free for students, so you have no reason not to install it if you want to use your iOS device in disk mode. 

What do you think of these apps? Have you found a better alternative? Let us know in the comments!