Microsoft Bob

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FTP Clients - Part 15: WebDrive

For the next installments in my series about FTP clients, I will be taking a look at two FTP redirectors at the same time. In this specific blog post, I will focus on WebDrive (from South River Technologies), whereas my next post will look at NetDrive (from Bdrive Inc.).

At the time of this blog's writing, WebDrive is a for-retail FTP client and redirector which is available from the following URL:

http://www.webdrive.com/

For this blog post I will be using WebDrive version 12.10.4082.

WebDrive 12 Overview

Before I continue, I would like to begin with some background information: because of my ongoing blog series about FTP clients, one question that I have often been asked is, "Which FTP client do you use?" Usually I have to answer, "That depends." I know that my answer sounds non-committal, but to be honest - I have yet to find an FTP client that does everything that I want, although a few FTP clients have had enough features for me to use them quite often. And with that in mind, I need to point out that I purchased my first license for WebDrive over 12 years ago, and over the years I have periodically renewed my license for later versions. So to partially answer my earlier question - WebDrive is one of the FTP clients that I have used a lot.

That being said, WebDrive is different from many of the other FTP clients that I have reviewed because it is an Internet protocol redirector, meaning that it allows you to map drive letters to a variety of Internet-based repositories. (I'll discuss those various protocols and repositories shortly.)

When you install and open WebDrive, you are presented with a fairly empty user interface:

If you click the App Settings icon, you will be presented with a dialog box that offers dozens of customizable options:

When you click the New icon, you will be presented with a Site Wizard which lists the supported Internet protocols and repositories which you can use for mapping drives:

As you can see from the illustration above, WebDrive's list of support technologies is quite extensive: WebDAV, Secure WebDAV, FTP, Secure FTP, Google Drive, Amazon S3, SFTP, Dropbox, and FrontPage Server Extensions.

When you choose to create an FTP connection, WebDrive launches its Site Wizard, and the initial dialog box is pretty self-explanatory:

However, when you click the Advanced Settings button, you are presented once again with dozens of customizable settings for this specific connection:

As you continue to add sites with WebDrive, their connection types and current statuses are displayed in the user interface:

However, when you view your drives in Windows Explorer, even though network drives which are mapped through WebDrive are displayed with a different icon, you cannot tell the protocol type for mapped drives; this is one of the few times where NetDrive supported a feature that I really missed in WebDrive. (See my next blog entry for more information.)

WebDrive 12 supports command-line scripting, so if you find the features of the built-in Windows FTP client are somewhat limited, you can investigate scripting WebDrive:

WebDrive Command Line Parameters

I would love to take an in-depth look at all of the supported protocols in this review, but this series is about FTP clients, so I'll move on to the FTP-specific features that I normally review.

Using WebDrive 12 with FTP over SSL (FTPS)

WebDrive 12 has built-in support for FTP over SSL (FTPS), and it supports both Explicit and Implicit FTPS. To specify which type of encryption to use for FTPS, you need to choose the appropriate option from the Security Type drop-down menu in the FTP Settings for a site:

Using WebDrive 12 with True FTP Hosts

True FTP hosts are not supported natively by WebDrive 12, and there are no settings that I could find which would allow me to customize the login environment in order to work around this situation.

Using WebDrive 12 with Virtual FTP Hosts

WebDrive 12's login settings allow you to specify the virtual host name as part of the user credentials by using syntax like "ftp.example.com|username" or "ftp.example.com\username", so you can use virtual FTP hosts with WebDrive 12.

Scorecard for WebDrive 12

This concludes my quick look at a few of the FTP features that are available with WebDrive 12, and here are the scorecard results:

Client
Name
Directory
Browsing
Explicit
FTPS
Implicit
FTPS
Virtual
Hosts
True
HOSTs
Site
Manager
Extensibility
WebDrive 12.10.4082 N/A Y Y Y N1 Y N/A
Notes:
  1. True FTP hosts are not supported natively, and I could find no way to customize an FTP connection in order to enable true FTP hostnames.

That wraps things up for today's review of WebDrive 12. Your key take-aways should be: WebDrive is a powerful redirector with support for a wide variety of protocols. What's more, the WebDrive application and each individual connection contain dozens of options which allow you to customize the environment in hundreds of ways. As is the case with many of my reviews, I have barely presented a fraction of the capabilities that are available in WebDrive 12; you might want to try it out and experiment with all of its possibilities.

Note: This blog was originally posted at http://blogs.msdn.com/robert_mcmurray/

Posted: Nov 29 2014, 19:39 by Bob | Comments (0)
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Filed under: FTP | SSL
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