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.

 

 

 

 

23 Comments
  1. Really great stuff. I will be moving away to university in September and leaving my current PC at home, my parents aren’t very tech literate but with this I can easily access anything that I need from the other end of the country.

    • We are use FTP file systems.Our site mapping to use Google maps of account for details information include there.For example, Where am i live ? What is my business of location ?

  2. I use Dreanweaver when I edit my site files. It has an FTP program built into the IDE. I can easily save and then upload the file to my website in a couple of clicks. I guess this is an interesting alternative for people who can’t afford it.

  3. Interesting, so basically ftp with locking and edit on the fly function. Edit on the fly is pretty neat and it save time, but locking I think its not that important, at least I dont think much company will use ftp to do their content control. I guess they can easily solve it by getting some sort of source control (ie: Team Foundation Server), where they get locks and history all in one package.

  4. Really useful article. I’ve been looking for a long time for a simple piece of software such as webdrive. I always considered software that involves FTP very complicated but this makes things easier. Gratitude for the abundant supply of useful information.

    • Could not agree more. This article is packed with essential information on the management of files via a webdrive. A great read for any website owner. Thanks again David.

  5. Really great article. It is a pain, to have to log into Wordpress, just to retrieve an article or picture. I will give webdrive, a look at in the future. This should make it easier, for me to access my files. Thank you for this information.

  6. WebDrive seems very interesting for more complex problems like the second case you pointed out. It looks like it can definitely solve a couple of headaches really fast, especially for busy people.

    Considering that WebDrive costs $69.95 per year, it sounds like a good investment for people who needs to share files located in different places.

    • Clarification: It is $69 for the program and includes one year of updates. It is not an annual fee if you decide you don’t pay for the updates.

  7. This is a great solution for those that don’t want to (or have time to) learn more about using an FTP program like Filezilla. It’s definitely a good alternative and it might offer some things that programs like Filezilla don’t offer.

    I’m stuck in my old ways, though, so I’ll probably continue using things like Filezilla.

    Maybe there are other programs similar to WebDrive. It might be a good idea for “round-up” type of blog post?

  8. I have mapped many drives while doing work with computers for customer service outfit. But one of the major complaints of many was the root drive mapping required to work with the programs we supported. However, this little solution might help them to at least access the files they want for the normal operation of the program while allowing them to still do so securely with out remote access into the server with great difficulty.

  9. This is a great software especially the feature which enables different persons to edit a file without overwriting one another. it is like having your remote server as a local drive on your system. Also the fact that it can encrypt file transfers makes it more useful compared to FTP clients.

  10. This does sound as though it could be very useful! I’d always be slightly concerned about security issues, but it sounds like they have it mostly covered.

    It’s just unfortunate that it’s so expensive (at least for a student). Perhaps if it came down in price I might go ahead and use it quite a bit. I’ll have to remember to check out the trial, though.

  11. Normally I am lost when it comes to computer talk, but you make things sound so easy! I’m going to try this myself and hope I don’t screw things up too bad. Wish me luck guys…I’ll keep you posted.

    • How have things gone for you? I found the tutorial on the webdrive site to be pretty straightforward and I had the whole shebang up within a half hour or so. Probably a little longer than it would take an expert but alright in my books.

  12. I guess this will save me a lot of time. In some things I am quite new to IT stuff and I am thankful for every help just like you help me with your articles, David.

    I don’t know if I really am in need of such a programm right know but I will keep it in mind.

  13. I’ve never really bothered learning about FTPs but this might help in the future. I like how it said you don’t have to download the file first before you can do edits. With ease and the support, I guess the price is good for all the features included.

    • You still technically need to download the file to your computer, but since your computer is fooled in to thinking that your file is local, it is transparent to the end user.

  14. Wow this is some great stuff I’ve never really done anything to do with FTPs before. Really nice guide simple but deep. I’m gong to try this now.

  15. This is an interesting concept. In the past I’ve had mapped drives for local network shares on either a server or another computer. I’ve mapped drives across VPN, but never to a true WAN location. This may come in handy in the future when some clients wish to perform simple drag and drop backups to an offsite (“cloud”) location.

  16. This is really helpful. I can access my documents at home when I’m no the road. This is another really great article.

  17. I didn’t even know that I could map a local drive to a FTP. I’ve used FTP’s to transfer data but never considered mapping an entire local drive to it. This is very interesting information that I am going to print out and keep by my desk so that I can possibly bring it up the next time that I speak with our IT department.

  18. I honestly never knew that we use FTP file system. This app seems kind of awesome I guess. I really do not know anything about the FTP file system though. I think I am going to have to do some research because I am completely lost with this topic.

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