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Transferring files via FTP requires special tools and interfaces. WebDrive is an FTP client making transferring files as simple as copying in Windows.

If you do anything on the web, particularly things like web development or other types of website maintenance, you're probably aware of "FTP" or File Transfer Protocol. The FTP protocol, and its sibling SFTP (Secure FTP), are two of the quiet workhorses of pushing bits around the internet.

The current traditional approach to dealing with file transfers via FTP is to use a graphical utility such as FileZilla, CuteFTP, WinSCP or others, and then drag-and-drop files to and from the remote site. The previous approach was to use the "ftp" program to perform the same operations at the command line.

I've become addicted to WebDrive which allows you to do both and much, much more, by simply making a FTP connection appear as a virtual disk drive on your machine.

That's an incredibly simple approach that enables a world of flexibility.

As I sit here, the entire hard disk of the server that hosts Ask Leo! and a few of my other sites is accessible on my Windows machine as drive "Z:".

"That's an incredibly simple approach that enables a world of flexibility."

So the obvious result is that copying a file to and from my server is exactly like copying a file to any other location on my network. I can use the command line, I can use Windows Explorer, in fact I can use whatever approach to copying files around that I like. I can even fire up my text editor and edit a file directly on the remote server. There's no "upload" or "download", there's just "copy this file over there" and the right thing happens.

I happen to use SFTP using public key authentication, which is fully supported by WebDrive. But regular FTP as well as WebDAV are supported. In fact, in checking the site in preparation for this recommendation, I find that WebDrive now also supports the Amazon S3 service as well.

Connect and forget; once your remote service appears as a drive on your system, you don't need to remember different approaches to moving things around, you just treat it like any other drive on your system - albeit slower since it's across your internet connection.

In my case, that also enables automation. I have batch files and scripts that run periodically to perform backups and other operations which are all easily enabled by simply accessing the remote site connected as a virtual drive.

WebDrive is a utility that I rarely think of, and yet something I rely on almost every day. It's not free, but in my opinion, worth its modest cost.

I recommend it.

Article C3507 - September 20, 2008 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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9 Comments
vincent
September 22, 2008 4:02 AM

Gee thanks Leo. I decided to give webdrive a try, and I'm already addicted to the damn thing ;-)

Ziggie
September 22, 2008 6:26 AM

Neat idea, but I hate tying things to drive letters (bad enough networked drives are that dependent).

I believe WebDrive will let you define \\machine\share syntax you can use as well, though I've not played with that.
- Leo
22-Sep-2008

vincent
September 22, 2008 9:05 AM

works for me though :-)
And it only uses 8MB of ram too.
And no I don't work for South River ;-)

Neville Turbit
September 23, 2008 4:01 PM

I also use a tool called PowerDesk Pro. It does the same and also allows you to split the screen in two either vertically or horizontally. You can have one drive in one panel, and another in the other panel. Like you Leo, I use it every day and the only time I appreciate it is when I go back to Windows Explorer.

John E
June 11, 2009 2:18 AM

No need to use any additional software - you can access FTP sites directly via Windows Explorer - just open 'My Computer' and type in the URL of the FTP site. Once you've logged in, add the site to 'Favourites' and you can access it with one click.

Neville Turbit
March 2, 2011 2:33 AM

I have been using Powerdisk for about five years. It is great. The split screen is invaluable and the ftp feature makes transferring files seamless. I use Dreamweaver as an ftp transfer option and the only advantage it has is that in Powerdisk you have to select the folder whereas Dreamweaver puts it in the mirror folder structure on a website. Powerdesk is one of my best purchases and I pay to update whenever they have a new release. That alone says something.

Robert
May 29, 2012 8:53 AM

Since this uses ftp I imagine files cannot be worked on directly. Is there an option that allows remote access to files with this kind of simplicity?

Mark J
May 29, 2012 8:58 AM

@Robert
According to this article Leo says,' I can even fire up my text editor and edit a file directly on the remote server. ' I believe that means you can work on your files directly.

njorl
May 29, 2012 9:16 AM

"Connect and forget" - AYOR!

Leaving a connection to your web host permanently open makes it horribly easy for (suitably-designed) malware, that's made it onto your PC, to spread to your web site.

Many of the phishing e. mails, I receive, incorporate a link to a page in some obscure folder of a web site that appears otherwise unrelated to the scam.

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