How to use the Files app to connect to a network server from your iPhone or iPad

Learn how you can access files on a server directly through the Files app on your iPhone or iPad.

Shot of a Working Data Center With Rows of Rack Servers Connected with LAN Connection Visualisation Lines.

Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The Files app for iOS and iPadOS is a handy tool as it helps you connect to online services and other locations, such as OneDrive, Google Drive, Box, and Dropbox. With
iOS 13
, the Files app has been updated so that you can now connect to more places and spaces. One useful new option is the ability to connect to a server or network-attached storage; you can then work with the folders and files on that server. Let’s see how.

SEE: Apple iOS 13: A cheat sheet (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

First, make sure you’re running iOS 13.1 or higher on your iPhone and iPadOS 13.1 or higher on your iPad. On either device, go to Settings and tap General. In the General section, tap Software Updates. You’ll either be told that your software is up to date, or the latest update will present itself for download and installation (Figure A).

Figure A 


The server connection feature in the Files app requires that the Server Message Block (SMB) protocol be enabled on your server or NAS. SMB is a common and standard protocol for computers to allow sharing of files and printers with different devices on a network. All current versions of Windows include SMB for client and server connections. If you have the necessary permissions and access to a Windows network server, you should be able to connect to it. If you’re connecting to a server or NAS that you manage at home, in a home office, or in a small business, you need to make sure that SMB is enabled on the device. Further, the Files app requires SMB 2.0 or higher, so you’ll have to check the version as well.

You may also need to tweak the SMB settings on your network device. In my situation, I wanted to connect to a Synology NAS on my home office network….