Sideload is a verb that describes a local file transfer. Unlike uploading and downloading, which take place over the Internet, sideloading involves transferring a file from one local device to another.

Common ways to sideload data are:

  1. through a wired connection (a USB cable)
  2. over a wireless connection (Wi-Fi or Bluetooth)
  3. from a removable storage device (an SD card)

While sideloading is possible between any two local devices, it most commonly refers to transferring a file to a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet. Sideloading is often used synonymously with installing an app outside an app store.

Sideloading Mobile Apps

The standard way to install an app on an iOS or Android device is to download it from Apple's App Store or Google's Play Store. Sideloading an app bypasses the app store, installing the app directly from a local device.

iOS does not allow sideloading except for developers, who need to test their apps before publishing them to the App Store. Android provides a setting in Security → Unknown Sources that, when toggled on, allows apps to be installed or "sideloaded" outside the Play Store.

Updated January 12, 2022 by Per C.

quizTest Your Knowledge

What is the primary difference between viruses and other types of malware?

Viruses require root access to a system
Viruses replicate themselves
Viruses gain access to personal information
Viruses only affect Windows systems
Correct! Incorrect!     View the Virus definition.
More Quizzes →

The Tech Terms Computer Dictionary

The definition of Sideload on this page is an original definition written by the team. If you would like to reference this page or cite this definition, please use the green citation links above.

The goal of is to explain computer terminology in a way that is easy to understand. We strive for simplicity and accuracy with every definition we publish. If you have feedback about this definition or would like to suggest a new technical term, please contact us.

Sign up for the free TechTerms Newsletter

How often would you like to receive an email?

You can unsubscribe or change your frequency setting at any time using the links available in each email.

Questions? Please contact us.