I frequently come across interesting programs. Many times you file them away until an opportunity arises where they become a perfect fit. Lately I had 2 situations where I was able to use one of those programs.
WebDrive is a Windows and Mac based client which allows you to map a local drive directly to an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) server. It also supports SFTP (Secure FTP) which is much more secure as it encrypts the communication. FTP communication is all in plain text and not recommended though sometimes you have no choice.
At first this doesn’t sound too exciting. However if you have a website hosted on a server, there are times where you want to access the files direct instead of going through something like WordPress administration or using an FTP client (e.g. FileZilla, CuteFTP). WebDrive makes this completely transparent and easy to do. You can use any program on your local computer to edit/copy/move files located on your website. You may want to manage your images or documents available for download or perhaps you have a member only section. I find WebDrive can be invaluable when customizing your website with advanced features such as editing stylesheets.
The second situation was when a client of mine needed to share files among 10 different computers located at 10 different sites. Their files are sensitive and due to policy cannot reside on “the cloud” (Dropbox, Google Drive, iCloud, SkyDrive). Therefore they needed a private solution. To complicate matters further, these 10 different locations frequently make changes to the same document. This meant that file locking was needed otherwise they could end up clobbering each other changes where someone overwrites another person’s recent changes (happens often when people keep documents open for long periods of time).
The solution for them ended up being a private VPS server supporting WebDAV communication, specifically WebDAV with SSL (so that all communication was encrypted). Using WebDrive they were all able to each map a local drive letter (they all called it W: for consistency) to these shared files hosted on the server. WebDrive has a feature called “Auto DAV locking” which they enabled to add write protection. Side note, the Mac version of WebDrive did not support file locking.
WebDrive is a very well rounded program with many features. We ended up conducting a lot of experiments with the different options within the Settings menu until we came up with a recipe that worked for their situation. The defaults do not support file locking.
WebDrive is a commercial program however worth considering if you have such a need. Otherwise file this away as one of those “handy” programs. And as always, you still need to implement a backup solution for your files. WebDrive can also easily work with Amazon S3, Dropbox, and Google Drive.