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NetDrive – Browse FTP File Structures in Virtual Explorer-style Drives

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Published on January 25th, 2007
Category: Internet

As Windows users, its like we never get off the breast milk. I mean we’re weaned on the same easy (arguable?) interface over and over again. That Windows Explorer interface is in every program. Every time you click “Browse,” “Save,” “Open,” or “New,” you see the same user-friendly folders. In Windows, pretty much everything is universal. If you can use notepad, you should have no problem using WordPad. You have the same “File,” “Edit,” “View,” and “Help” menu bar options. You have that drag-and-drop functionality. You can always count on “Ctrl-C” to copy, “Ctrl-V” to Paste, “Ctrl-X” to Cut, and “Ctrl-A” to Select All. Like I said, we’re on Microsoft’s breast milk.

But when we run into something unfamiliar, we’re like, “Whoa! What’s going on!?” This even happens to “experts.” “Why is there not a “File” option in Trillian?” or “Why can’t I drag-and-drop a song from my playlist to the desktop?” I’m not even going to explore what happens when we experience Linux for the first time. “Bash? Will that destroy my computer?” That’s already another article in itself!

Microsoft FTP Integration in Windows Explorer
Microsoft has made every effort to make our user experience seamless and universal. But, they don’t get it quite so well with their FTP integration. When you enter your personal FTP address (in my case, “ftp://ftp.art-app.com”) in a Microsoft-product location bar, it prompts you for a username and password. When authentication is complete, you are greeted with an exploreresque interface. It’s so familiar you don’t give it a second thought. Try copying a file from one folder on your server to another folder in the same server. Error!

Microsoft makes a decent effort in integrating FTP in an Explorer-like environment. But, it just is not good enough. It’s buggy, quirky, and slow.

NetDrive FTP Integration with Virtual Partitions
I was searching for an alternative to the Microsoft way of FTP integration and I found Netdrive. NetDrive is exactly what I was looking for. It maps any FTP path to a drive letter and that drive acts exactly like any hard drive partition would. I can even open my HTML files in notepad and save them via the normal “File -> Save” method! Take a look at this right click the Microsoft way and a right click the NetDrive way.

Microsoft Way
Netdrive Way
It’s seamless compared to Microsoft.

Abandonware and WebDrive
NetDrive was created by Novell Networks. It is abandonware, which – if you want to get technical – is not freeware. Novell abandoned the NetDrive software and opted for the very similar and expensive WebDrive. I’ve tried WebDrive and concluded that NetDrive was good enough and got the job done.

From the NetDrive.exe – Novell Cool Solutions: Question & Answer page, Novell tells us this:

To find a download, search for netdrive.exe on the Web. Due to licensing issues, it is not a download from Novell.com.

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30 Responses to “NetDrive – Browse FTP File Structures in Virtual Explorer-style Drives”

  1. WebDrive Says:

    NetDrive is not free. It is to be installed and used only in conjunction with a valid Novell Netware 6 license, which is why Novell will not provide a link to it on their website.

    NetDrive is based on an old version of WebDrive, from South River Technologies, the creators of the technology. WebDrive was licensed to Novell as NetDrive for a brief period in the late 90’s for ‘exclusive’ use within a Novell Netware LAN.

  2. Richard Steven Hack Says:

    It may not be free, but as the article says, it is “abandonware” – meaning Novell couldn’t care less as their Solutions page says: do a Google search, find somebody who has it for download and get it.

    If Webdrive has a problem with that, they should contact Novell and get that statement removed.

    Better yet, open source it if it’s obsolete to their business model.

  3. NetDrive Expert Says:

    New versions of NetDrive available at http://www.netdrive.net !

  4. SkipRinPerth Says:

    I just looked at the support forum for netdrive.net from Solution Box and this appears to be a separate code base to the webdrive/netdrive code base from South River Technology/Novell. Some differences that may be of interest are:
    Netdrive (Novell) runs on win9x thru win XP. Netdrive (SB) and webdrive (SRT) require win 2K or higher. Netdrive (SB) has only been released since May 2008. Timestamps may be an issue in Netdrive (SB) – their site does not provide any info on how they treat timezone issues.

  5. Gunigugu Says:

    Unfortunately, the *new* netdrive from Solution Box is a piece of crap :/

    Get the original Webdrive (http://www.southrivertech.com/products/webdrive ) or the free Novell Netdrive (google it)

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