If your desktop machine runs Windows and you have to edit files on a Linux server, then you usually work with an SSH/SFTP client like WinSCP. The problem with such tools is that they don't allow you to access files the way you're used to under Windows, i.e., with Windows Explorer or from other Windows applications. What you need is a tool that enables you to map a folder on a Linux box to a Windows driver letter. SftpDrive and WebDrive are two easy-to-use tools that do just that. You'll see that this makes working with files on a Linux machine much more convenient.
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The basic functions of both tools are quite similar. You specify the network address of the SSH server, the drive letter, and the credentials. You can configure them to launch and reconnect to the Linux server at logon. Both tools allow you to simultaneously work with multiple connections to different servers.
You can access the Linux files the same way as in Windows, i.e., a double click will open its associated application. Saving the file will copy the changes to the Linux machine and you can drag and drop files from your desktop to the Linux folder.
A problem with both tools is that if you copy a file from a server folder to another, it will be downloaded to your local machine first and then uploaded again. This isn't a big deal if you have a high-speed connection to your server or if you only work with small text files. If you move files rather than copy them, this problem doesn't exist at all, because SftpDrive and WebDrive won't download them then.
This is where their common features end. WebDrive certainly is the more sophisticated tool. It not only supports SFTP, but also FTP, WebDAV, FrontPage, and GroupDrive. I only tested SFTP since it is the one most often used by system administrators.
Another interesting feature of WebDrive is its caching function. WebDrive automatically copies the files you edit to a local cache. If the network connection isn't available, you can still access the files from the cache. This feature is useful if you have a slow network connection to your server. WebDrive is definitely the better choice, especially if you want to open files with applications that create temporary files like Word. However, if you work with large files, then this feature might cause problems.
In my test, I opened a 300 MB .pst file with Outlook. Even if you have a very fast connection, you will have to wait a while before you can start working.
SftpDrive doesn't have this caching feature. Therefore, I was able to work almost immediately with the database since Outlook doesn't have to load the complete .pst file. I didn't realize any delays with a 100 Mbps connection. However, with 3 Mbps, Outlook was a bit sluggish.
WebDrive offers several settings to configure the caching feature. Unfortunately, I didn't find a way to disable caching completely. Hence, I can't recommend WebDrive if you want to access large database files on your Linux server.
Unfortunately, neither tool is free. SftpDrive costs $39 and WebDrive is $54.95. In my view, they are worth their money. I always used WinSCP to edit files on a Linux box, but working with SftpDrive and WebDrive is much more convenient for me. I'll probably purchase WebDrive since it is faster with low bandwidth connections.
Of course, there are other ways to map a network drive to a folder on a Linux host. One option is Samba. However, you won't have an encrypted communication and you have to first set up Samba on every Linux server.
Another option is to use the free tool NetDrive. It supports FTP and WebDAV but not SFTP. I can't recommend using FTP since the communication is not encrypted. If you use it together with a VPN solution, for example with Poptop, it might be an option. However, I found that NetDrive is a bit slow sometimes.
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Yet another option is FTP Drive. It also uses FTP, but you can encrypt the communication with SSL/TLS. I didn't try this tool. I am always a bit cautious if someone uses a black ground for his Web site. 😉 FTP Drive is also available at Download.com. I don't know if this means anything, though.