I am looking for an FTP client that intergrates with the Windows explorer so that users will be able to just use it like a normal mapped drive.

My users need remote access to company files and VPN is just too slow, so wanted to try it with FTP and see if this works any better. Using the old style FTP client and uploadning/download is just not an option, too complex for them. Ideally I'd like to make this as close to the same as a mapped drive as I can.



What is wrong with using the FTP client included with windows explorer?

Open Windows Explorer and type your ftp address in the address bar (e.g. ftp://ftp.foo.com).

You will be prompted for credentials if the site doesn't allow anonymous access.

If you want to include the username when accessing the FTP site use: username@ftp://ftp.foo.com


Windows Explorer FTP view http://brettski.com/f111/we_ftp.jpg

  • Works pretty well for me most of the time. It struggles with flaky servers, but ideally you shouldn't have flaky servers. – Jonathan Jun 3 '09 at 14:00
  • Amazing what we forget about, I'll give this one a try first :) I should be able to just give them a link then – SpaceManSpiff Jun 3 '09 at 15:15
  • +1 This is what I use since I don't use FTP that much, mostly to test ftp sites. – Hondalex Jun 3 '09 at 20:22

There are several good ways to map a drive letter in Windows to an FTP location.

Unkwntech asked "How can I mount an FTP to a drive letter in windows?"

It appears he has chosen WebDrive as his accepted answer.

  • While this product and others like it work, I've found that more often than not, they're as flaky and using the FTP in Windows Explorer. Nothing I've found beats training a user on FileZilla or similar products designed to do FTP and only FTP. – Kevin Kuphal Jun 3 '09 at 14:09
  • We have been using ExpanDrive for a few years. We have had very few issues with it. Makes it easier for less technical users to access files. – Peter Hoven Jun 3 '09 at 15:08

Mind you VPN is suppose to do more than just transfer files, when properly used it also provides a more secure access to resources... standard ftp would be a big no-no - you'd still need to wrap it inside an encrypted tunnel of some kind - be it some VPN or another hybrid like sftp and so forth.

This sounds more like a case for terminal services (Remote Desktop Services or/and Citrix) if you really want to speed things like this up a lot - by simply negating the need to transfer the files to begin with! ^^

Or you could have users actually use offline folders to synchronise important folders - though it's so annoyingly buggy until Vista was released so if the users aren't running Vista I'm not sure it would be fun to administer.

Sharepoint and HTTPS (or any SSL VPN) would likely be a better version of the ftp idea as well, though I don't really like Sharepoint...

  • Actually we do use offline sync already for the my documents folder re-directed to their network user share, works like a charm. The issue is the common files which is sitting at 28 gigs right now so doing that one offline is impractical. I'd rather use VPN, but the network connection is just too slow and it would be a $1500 to $2000 a month jump to upgrade it. We're on busines grade cable right now so we have 10 megs down but only 1 up. Its the best in our city without going big time upgrade. Tried sharepoint, hated it too :) – SpaceManSpiff Jun 3 '09 at 15:13
  • Then I would suggest checking out an ssl vpn solution - basically an encrypted web site in a box which publishes the share, like Sharepoint but much simpler. It will also not use any bandwidth when idling just like ftp and unlike traditional vpn - and possibly be much easier for users to understand. Alternatively, if you already have some windows infrastructure, a simple terminal services gateway against a terminal server or their own desktops if they have could blow them away if what you have now is "it takes 2 minutes to open this excel file from the vpn" problems (SO/SF needs comment edis). – Oskar Duveborn Jun 4 '09 at 8:34

While VPN is secure it offers something FTP doesn't. Security. FTP passes data in the clear. So if this data is in any way important or private FTP is not a good way to move it.

You could try WebDAV which runs on in conjunction with IIS (like FTP) and would allow access remotely at internet speeds, and can use SSL encryption.

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