How to transfer data in files from different locations to app directory

In Android apps, we might have seen various instances in-app where we can import, export or save files. Now, where does the files go to or come from? There needs to be a specific folder or directory (maybe root) for a particular app which inturn contains the necessary files, the user has worked with from the app. In this blog, we will be learning about the backend of how to create directories and store files in them dynamically with proper content.


I have been working with FOSSASIA on the project Neurolab-Android. In the app, we have various program modes, which has the option to save/record data. The saved data gets logged in a new file in the Neurolab directory/folder. Feel free to go ahead and explore the feature.

The Save/Record feature in Neurolab can be found in the app bar or as an option in the drop down menu present in the app bar itself in any program mode. The feature becomes functional, once the data is imported with the import data feature which is also present in the app bar.

                                              Figure: Demonstration of features in Neurolab


Now, starting off, there are apps out there wherein users can save files from different segments in the app and those saved files can be used by the app itself at other times as they belong to that app itself specifically.

First off, we need to make sure we have a directory for our app, wherein the files will get stored. If the directory or folder is not present, it needs to be created.

File directory = new File(
                Environment.getExternalStorageDirectory().getAbsolutePath() +
                        File.separator + DIRECTORY_NAME);
        if (!directory.exists()) {
            try {
            } catch (Exception e) {

Now, once the directory is present, we can go ahead to keep the saved files in it. Also we will be implementing category-wise storage of the files. Simply put, we will be storing csv files in the CSV folder, xls files in the Excel folder, etc. In the below code example, we see the use case of CSV ‘category’.

private void categoryWise() {File categoryDirectory = new File(
                Environment.getExternalStorageDirectory().getAbsolutePath() +
                        File.separator + DIRECTORY_NAME + File.separator + category);
        if (!categoryDirectory.exists()) {
            try {
            } catch (Exception e) {

For saving a file in our app, we need to get (import) the file into our app. Once the file is imported, we can get the path of the file with the help of its URI. Let’s assign the path to a variable named ‘importedFilePath’. Then we place the imported file in the required category directory within our parent app directory depending and deciding upon the extension of the imported file.

File importedFile = new File(importedFilePath);
        Date currentTime = Calendar.getInstance().getTime();
        SimpleDateFormat sdf = new SimpleDateFormat("yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm:ss");
        String fileName = sdf.format(currentTime);
        File dst = new File(Environment.getExternalStorageDirectory().getAbsolutePath() +
                File.separator + DIRECTORY_NAME + File.separator + categoryDirectory + File.separator + fileName + ".$extension");
        if (!dst.exists()) {
            try {                categoryWise()
                transfer(importedFile, dst);
            } catch (IOException e) {

Now, we have the ‘importedFile’ and the destination file path (dst) where the file needs to be stored for our app. The ‘extension’ can be of any type you feel the file should be. Here, for the fileName we are using the current date and time together.

Then, we can come to the function ‘transfer’ which has been called above.

private static void transfer(File src, File dst) throws IOException {
        InputStream in = new FileInputStream(src);
        try {
            OutputStream out = new FileOutputStream(dst);
            try {
                // Transfer bytes from in to out
                byte[] buf = new byte[1024];
                int len;
                while ((len = > 0) {
                    out.write(buf, 0, len);
            } finally {
        } finally {

In the ‘transfer’ function, we initialize an input stream with the source file path and the output stream with the destination file path. We read the content in the form of  a certain chunk of bytes from the source file and write to the output stream (destination file).

Finally, we close the output and input streams simultaneously.

Thus, we have our code ready to be bound by UI actions/buttons. Once, the user interacts with the action in your app, the imported file will get saved in the specific directory of your app.

That’s it. Hope this blog enhanced your Android development and Java skillset. 


  1. Author – Google Android Developers, Article – Data and File storage, Website –
  2. Author – Rakshi and Thomas, Article – How to make a copy of file in android, Source – Stack overflow, Website –

Tags: FOSSASIA. Neurolab, GSOC19, Open-source, File-storage

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