How To Turn Your Web Server Into a Desktop USB Drive

The following question was posted in the comments by James Thompson of jtGraphics on my post about Dropbox.

Does anyone know of similar software that can be bought? I have plenty of servers and cloud accounts. It’d be cool to just spend like $200 on some software and use my own servers…

James, you are in luck! I’ve found just such a program today (well, yesterday) and it does exactly what you’re asking for! The software is call ExpanDrive and it won’t cost you $200, or even $100. How does a 30 day free trial sound? Then if you like it, you can buy it for $39.95.

ExpanDrive acts just like a USB drive plugged into your Mac (there is a Windows version but it’s no where near as eloquent). You can use ExpanDrive to connect to your web server and it will show up as a drive on your desktop. You can treat it just like any other drive. You can drag and drop files to it, create folders, play MP3/videos, etc.

I use ExpanDrive to access my Amazon S3 account (where backups of this blog are kept). It’s the most simple way I’ve found to save and retrieve files from S3 since it just works like USB drive on my computer. Give it a try and tell me what you think.

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ExpanDrive | Dropbox 2.25GB of Free Online Storage | Amazon S3 Simple Storage Service

35 thoughts on “How To Turn Your Web Server Into a Desktop USB Drive”

  1. Brandon says:

    Sweet! I was always using CyberDuck

    But can you not do something similar in mac by default with network drives?
    …trying it out now 😀

    1. Nice to see that at JohnChow.Com we are also getting lesson on tech base.

      So now we have three important segments here –

      Making Money online
      Great Food
      Technology base lesson.

      Great John …

  2. lol James just got yet another free backlink!

    Seriously though. That does sound like a cool tool, but I don’t need it right now.

    1. But he deserves it, because he had raised the question that led to this post being written, after all…..

    2. jtGraphic says:

      Thanks. I wasn’t really looking for back links, but it’s like free drinks or something. I’m actually happier that he pointed me in the right direct.

  3. How is this different from using FileZilla, which is free for both Windows and Mac? You can have a quick login to your web server if you set it up in the profile. Also, I would recommend editing web pages with Eclipse, which is also free and much better than a plain text editor.

    Playing music directly from your web server? Interesting feature, but is it necessary? Its better storing your music on a local drive.

    1. John Chow says:

      FileZilla is a FTP software. Can you double click on a photo with FlieZilla and see it? No, it downloads it to your computer then you can double click on it and see. Expandrive makes the web server (or S3) act just like a USB drive plugged into your comp. FileZilla or any other FTP software can’t.

      1. No, you can’t double click on a photo in FileZilla to view it, you need to right click on it and select view.

        You can use Windows Explorer as an FTP client to connect to your web server. Then you can double click on files to open them.

        ExpanDrive is an SFTP client which costs $40. The 2 above FTP solutions are free. The advantage of FileZilla is that you can resume aborted downloads, and I wonder if ExpanDrive can do the same.

        Why would anyone pay for an FTP client when there are so many good free ones out there already?

        1. John Chow says:

          Because ExpanDrive works better and I only use SFTP / SSH / S3. FTP is about as secured as 1234 is as a password.

  4. ctrtard says:

    Windows has had similar stuff for a long time. Webdrive comes to mind and if you Google that you can find freeware and open source alternatives.

  5. How is the security on this John?

    1. John Chow says:

      The security is as good as the security on your web Server. I use it to access Amazon S3 only. I don’t store stuff on my web servers except websites.

      1. Melo says:

        Was going to ask about Security too. Thanks for John for answering it for us.

  6. I don’t see what the point is for a drive like that… whats stopping me from going to lets say filezilla and copying and pasting my entire website into a folder that I save on my desktop? i can do backups by myself every week or so, and it wouldn’t cost me anything… than if I really wanted to play it safe, just put it in an external drive as well, just in case my pc goes kaput!

  7. This tools surely will be very useful to mapping our online (in server) file directly in our laptop.

  8. This idea is gonna be big in the future when internet connection is fast enough to be able to watch DVD quality movies online. Imagine I can access my movie library anywhere in the world and watch it without downloading it.

    1. Mandie Sloan says:

      We managed to use a home server to stream movies to our iPhones, I thought it was pretty nifty. The technology is already here! 🙂

  9. fas says:

    How good is an idea to keep stuff on the server and clutter up resources?

    1. John Chow says:

      It’s not a great idea. That’s why I use Amazon S3. It’s designed to keep stuff.

      1. You are using Amazon S3 and also using flickr to save your photos.

        Did not get you when you can use Amazon S3 for photos as well.

        1. One advantage which I can see using flickr is you can easily add photos to your blog and can also increase your page views.

        2. John Chow says:

          The photos on Flickr are for sharing. The photos on S3 are private.

  10. When I’ve time, I will check it out. I still have doubt as to how it is accessing remote servers. Is it using ftp account to mount a drive?

    If so, this functionality is already built into Windows. You can mount any ftp drive in Windows and use it like a local drive.

    No need to mess with any third party software. I still see many people are using ftp clients (like file zilla) for file transfer from Windows. Mounting an ftp folder functionality is available in Windows for the last ten years.

    I have even forgotten when I had used an ftp client, may be in the 90s.

    For s3, I have to do some digging. When you create folder inside an Amazon bucket, most third party programs will use their proprietary stuff to designate that object as a directory. Amazon does not distinguish between files and folders. All are Amazon objects inside the Amazon bucket. The issue with that is, when you use another program to explore your buckets, you either won’t see that folder or it will have some encrypted name that only the program that you used to create will recognize as a folder.

    For Amazon s3, I found Cloudberry explorer is the best software. You can designate any bucket for content delivery with its own URL in one click.

    All the folders created by cloudberry are recognized as folder by most popular windows amazon s3 explorer with their proper name.

  11. Mathew Day says:

    I don’t think I really need this right now, but I may still try it out since they have a 30 day Free Trial.

    1. Melo says:

      Yup there is no harm in trying it.

  12. Soares says:

    John at this moment i will not use it…but i will record the name for this software and maybe try it…

  13. Hey John,

    I adore this concept, and will love to give it a try.I will try it with my new blog which is at the trial phase.

  14. Geeky Ninja says:

    This should be possible using FUSE anyway and for free

  15. Free Picks says:

    $3 is really cheap for this device

    thanks for the stuff john

  16. John that’s why you should always use youtube for videos lol! You can’t watch anything else on an iPhone

  17. I saw you tweeted about this…interesting concept for sure!

  18. I was searching for something similar to dropbox. I like dropbox and they even have an iphone app for it. But the amount of space is very limited.

    In anycase, I recently migrated to a mac and realized that I do all my finances in access, and there is no ms access for mac.

    So I downloaded open office. Does anyone know how to convert an existing access database into an openoffice database for the mac?

  19. I can see a huge demand for these services in the future. With everyone’s services going online, and between switching jobs or even back-up storage companies, managing your files on individual servers becomes necessary.


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