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Author Topic: WebDrive Mini-Review: Caching FTP-to-LocalDrive Mapping Tool  (Read 22819 times)
mouser
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« on: June 06, 2008, 08:55:07 PM »

Basic Info

App NameWebdrive from South River Tech
App URLhttp://www.webdrive.com/p...ducts/webdrive/index.html
App Version ReviewedWebDrive 10.0
Test System SpecsWindows XP Pro x64
Supported OSesWinAll (some features not avail. on Win9x)
Support MethodsVery good documentation (pdf guides, manual, tutorials)
Upgrade PolicyNot clear.  One year of updates is included in purchase.
Trial Version Available?Yes, fully functional but nag and expiration
Pricing Scheme$59 with 1 year of free updates; multi-year update plan available
Relationship btwn. Reviewer and Product I have no relationship to company; I purchased a full price version of the program.


Intro:

WebDrive is system utility which allows you to connect to an ftp server and map it to look like a local drive on your PC.  This let's you use any program on your PC that works with local files work with your ftp sites even if they are not internet-enabled.




Who is this app designed for:

This is a program that will only appeal to a small number of people with specific needs for interfacing to an ftp site, but it is an incredibly sophisticated and well-designed application, which can be a life saver if you have a use for it.

I came across it while looking for a way to use a file/folder comparison tool (Beyond Compare) with an ftp server.  Although the comparison tool I use supports connecting to ftp sites directly, it does not support FTPES, a more advanced encrypted ftp protocol.  WebDrive does support FTPES as well as SFTP and others.  Not using encryption was not an option, so I was desperate for a way to interface my existing tools with the ftp server in a secure manner.

WebDrive allows me to use this file comparison tool to compare and transfer changed files with ftp server in a completely transparent way, and was the only tool I found that could do the job well.

The Good

WebDrive has a lot of options, a big user manual, tons of features, commandline support, and other stuff that experts may care about -- but most importantly is that it works straight out of the box with no tweaking required.  You can map multiple ftp servers to different drives, use proxies.

I want to mention one of the most pleasantly surprising aspects of the program.  After i purchased WebDrive a new version of Beyond Compare came out with built-in ftpes support.  So I thought that I wouldn't have much use for WebDrive after that.  Boy was I wrong.

First of all, ftpes support in Beyond Compare is currently buggy, whereas WebDrive seems flawless.

But more important was the unexpected utility of the cache system in WebDrive.

Basically, WebDrive maintains a local cache on your hard drive of files on the ftp server.  It uses a variety of mechanisms and options to decide when a cached file needs to be re-downloaded.  It's perfect if you are the only person uploading files to the ftp -- if not you have to be a little more careful.

The use of the cache means that most of the time you can work with files on the ftp server virtually, without actually incurring any transfer bandwidth and at blazing speed.  Only when you modify a file will it automatically be uploaded or downloaded from the ftp.  The effect of this on tools like file/folder comparison tools is huge, and it all happens automatically.

Supports connecting to FTP, SFTP, FTPES, WEBDAV, Amazon S3, FrontPage, GroupDrive.


Scheduled file synchronizing

As I noted in my post below, WebDrive also has an excellent scheduled download/upload/sync feature that will connect to an account and transfer new/changed files.


The needs improvement section

This is one of those tools that has a very narrow focus, and does it's job extremely well.  Hard to think of missing features.  I did have a serious conflict with Eset Smart Security firewall in the past and I'm not sure if that has been fixed yet.

Not suitable as a full ftp client because it lacks functions that you would need like permission changing, queuing, etc.  This is a very specialized tool for people who know they need it, not a tool for the average pc user.

Previous versions (version Cool had a truly horrific uninstallation procedure for window x64.  New versions (version 10) are fine.


How does it compare to similar apps

Some similar programs:
  • NetDrive - have not tried it -- just discovered it and it is half price -- worth checking out before you buy WebDrive.
  • ftpdrive - free but not maintained (seems a little bit buggy).
  • SftpDrive - the main commercial competitor to WebDrive, cheaper, available for mac.  Looks good but not as powerful, and less protocols supported.


Conclusions

If you maintain files on an ftp server and would like to be able to interface your windows applications to the files on the server as if they were on a local drive -- especially if you would like to do file synchronization with the ftp server, then you owe it to yourself to check out WebDrive.  It has made my life a lot easier.


Links to other reviews/tutorials of this application

« Last Edit: July 24, 2011, 11:23:52 AM by mouser » Logged
mouser
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« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2008, 09:17:18 PM »

A 28% discount on WebDrive for DonationCoder supporting members is now posted in the members-only discount code section.   Expires June 25th, 2008.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2008, 09:38:12 PM by mouser » Logged
kartal
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« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2008, 10:42:14 PM »

I just tried netdrive(which I have not been aware of before) and it works great (tested only under 32bit), also free for home users.
 
Thanks for the discount btw I had considered Webdrive in the past and it was pricey for me.

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Josh
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« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2008, 11:21:46 PM »

Is it a coincidence that you posted this review at the same time they offered a discount?
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Strength in Knowledge
mouser
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« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2008, 11:25:00 PM »

i contacted them a while ago and asked for (and got) a discount for dc members after i had such a great experience with the program and bought my own copy at normal prices.  so i finally got off my a** and wrote the minireview since i thought i better explain what this program is for otherwise no one would even understand why i asked for the discount smiley
« Last Edit: June 07, 2008, 12:16:45 AM by mouser » Logged
Josh
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« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2008, 11:53:52 PM »

Just checking ;-) Didnt want people thinking what could easily be implied by this dual posting
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Strength in Knowledge
mouser
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« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2008, 08:00:26 AM »

Good point.  Let me clarify my thinking on discounts for reviewed items:

It's very common for us to contact a company that has received a positive mini-review on the forum to see if they want to offer a discount to DC members, since it's likely to be a program that forum members may want.

What we do not allow in any manner, shape, or form is:
  • We will not tolerate anyone getting any payment in return for writing a review.  If we find out that someone on our forum has been given some payment in return for writing a review we will take every step possible to call out the company and writer and make sure that the consequences outweigh any possible ill-gotten benefits. [important note: as discussed on the forum several times, we do not have a problem with a reviewer getting a free copy of the program being reviewed for their own personal use, as this does not present an incentive to write a good review of a bad product and seems fair].
  • We will not tolerate any pressure on a company to give a discount in order to get a positive mini-review.
  • No one with any other conflict of interest or relationship with a developer that would bias a review should be writing a review without clearly stating their relationship and biases up front.

« Last Edit: June 07, 2008, 08:06:33 AM by mouser » Logged
mwb1100
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« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2008, 07:07:27 PM »

SftpDrive - the main commercial competitor to WebDrive, cheaper, available for mac.  Looks good but not as powerful, and less protocols supported.

I have an SFTPDrive license, and it works very nicely (except for a proxy problem I have - see below). I'd like to mention a couple things:

  • SFTPDrive is licensed 'per-user' so you can install on multiple machines.  This is the main reason I chose SFTPDrive over WebDrive.
  • Unfortunately, SFTPDrive does not support HTTP proxies, so my use of it at work has been severely hampered when the proxy setup changed a while ago.  I don't know whether or not WebDrive supports HTTP proxies.
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sri
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« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2008, 10:36:35 PM »

mwb1100: Do keep us informed if you find a s/w using which one can connect to FTP server from behind a corporate HTTP proxy.
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megar
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« Reply #9 on: June 11, 2008, 02:07:06 PM »

Actually Netdrive does not support SFTP protocol.
So it remain only Webdrive and Sftpdrive. Both support private key ssh authentification.

The licence for Webdrive is very clear: the software can only be used on one computer "Individual Copies (for use on 1 computer)". This is a no-no for me, I will use it on my home pc, my laptop and my work pc.

SFTPDrive is licensed 'per-user' so you can install on multiple machines.  This is the main reason I chose SFTPDrive over WebDrive.
Where did you find this information on the very limited website of SFTPdrive ?

I find SFTPdrive less powerful, and much slower (no caching ?) but is the only one I can afford. Too bad the licence for webdrive is so restrictive. On the other hand, Webdrive is a piece-of-the art software. The caching, and synchronisation feature is a must-have. But it is way, way too expensive if you're planning to use it on more than one computer.

Currently, to access my files, I use a smb share (windows or samba linux), and hamachi. This is slow as hell, but is free. I am ready to buy a licence to gain speed, but not at the price of Webdrive ! 3*$60 (Webdrive) vs 1*$39 (SFTPDrive). Even with the -28% coupon.
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« Reply #10 on: June 11, 2008, 05:13:52 PM »

SFTPDrive is licensed 'per-user' so you can install on multiple machines.  This is the main reason I chose SFTPDrive over WebDrive.
Where did you find this information on the very limited website of SFTPdrive ?

Hmm, you're right.  I hope I wasn't mis-remembering something and passing on false information.  I've asked for a clarification from the vendor at their support 'forum':

http://getsatisfaction.co...ftpdrive_license_question

Edit: and the vendor replied within 10 minutes: "It's per user"

I hope he also updates the website...
« Last Edit: June 11, 2008, 05:29:47 PM by mwb1100 » Logged
megar
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« Reply #11 on: June 12, 2008, 01:03:12 AM »

Thank you !
I will go for SFTPdrive. Webdrive seems nicer but WAY too expensive !
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mouser
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« Reply #12 on: June 12, 2008, 01:12:54 AM »

Nice to see a full knowledgeable discussion here  thumbs up
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mouser
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« Reply #13 on: July 24, 2011, 11:19:57 AM »

Just wanted to post an update to praise webdrive for something.

I recently spent a day writing backup scripts for donationcoder, to do things like nightly backups of database and backup of new uploaded file attachments, etc.

In addition to letting you mount an ftp/ssh/sftp account as a virtual drive on your computer, which is the functionality i also associated with the software, it turns out that webdrive also has quite a nice scheduled download system that will connect to the site, find all new and changed files, and download changed files to your local hd (it supports upload, download, and sync).  Turned out to be exactly what i needed.

I'm pretty sure that a bunch of the file backup tools (super flexible file synchronizer, etc.) can do this also.. But it's pretty impressive to see it well implemented in webdrive itself.
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« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2012, 01:31:16 PM »

Mouser, are you still into webdrive?
Will dropbox on the server provide similar functionality (although losing privacy of course!)?
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mouser
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« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2012, 01:38:02 PM »

i am still using it.  i use it to regularly fetch files from a secure ftp server -- i don't  know if you could set something like that up with drop box.
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urlwolf
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« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2012, 01:48:58 AM »

The extra feature of webdrive over other sftp clients is the catching and the integration with the standard file manager. This enables to basically just work and not worry about whether server and local version are in sync.

This is what could be replicated by installing dropbox on the server. You even get the overlay icons on the local machine to see that everything is synced.

That´s what I meant, not real sftp.
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wraith808
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« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2012, 06:34:25 PM »

Another choice for this functionality that I'm using (purchased on BDJ): http://www.expandrive.com/

Very similar, and offers  FTP, SFTP AND Amazon S3.  It also offers Putty Pagent integration.  It was cheap, and it just works.
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« Reply #18 on: March 08, 2012, 08:11:52 PM »

So, ExpanDrive supports FTP on Windows now?  I know they added FTP and Amazon to the Mac version a while back, but wasn't aware that they had updated the Windows version too.

The nice thing about ExpanDrive (I have an older version that only supports SFTP) over WebDrive is that it has a per-user license so I can use it on all my machines.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2012, 10:57:33 PM by mwb1100 » Logged
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« Reply #19 on: March 08, 2012, 08:21:53 PM »

Why didn't anyone ever tell me about these??  I've been asking about these forever!!!
 Thmbsup Thmbsup

This is what I'm talking about baby!
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« Reply #20 on: March 09, 2012, 03:25:32 AM »

Im another expandrive user... i didnt know about webdrive before.
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« Reply #21 on: March 09, 2012, 03:34:15 PM »

I still wonder if these tools are made obsolete by the likes of wuala and dropbox.
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wraith808
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« Reply #22 on: March 09, 2012, 03:59:18 PM »

I still wonder if these tools are made obsolete by the likes of wuala and dropbox.

I guess it depends on your need.  When working with websites that don't have built in FTP, I love using this as it saves me a step.  Dropbox nor wuala solve this problem.  The best use (for me) for this is when you work from things in a variety of locations from tools that don't support those locations.  Also, if you don't *want* to use some service to store your things in the cloud, this really helps.  You can set up your own cloud and not be dependent on others.
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« Reply #23 on: March 16, 2013, 09:16:37 AM »

If you're planning on using WebDrive to do file synchronization with a remote server, I can no longer recommend it.

For reasons completely unfathomable to me, last week WebDrive decided that it would redownload EVERY file EVERY time it connects, rendering it completely unusable as a file synchronization tool.  Your mileage may very but the app went from essential to useless for me overnight.
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Ath
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« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2013, 09:52:34 AM »

last week WebDrive decided that it would redownload EVERY file EVERY time it connects
Is this something to do with DST that changed last weekend in the Northern America's?
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