Working with files between two Linux machines or two Windows machines over the network is pretty easy — in either case, you can share files on one machine and easily access them from the other. In fact, in either case you can mount a remote share and make it appear as part of the local file system, so any application can use the files just as easily as if they were local. This is done via SFTP over SSH (or a number of other methods) on Linux, and via Windows’s native file sharing (SMB) on Windows.
In fact, you can even mount a Windows share on Linux pretty easily using Samba, and use Samba to create shares that the Windows machines can access.
Now, a cool thing about SFTP over SSH is that it typically works even if the machines aren’t on the same LAN. You can access files on a machine across the Internet, and still mount the share so that applications can access the files as if they were local. This doesn’t always work with SMB, as lots of ISPs block the ports required, and even if you can get a connection over the Internet, performance is usually poor.
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could mount a remote SFTP server as a drive letter in Windows? That’s what I was looking for. I’ve looked around for applications that provide this functionality in the past, but never found one that worked reliably and on 64-bit Windows. However, the other day, I came across ExpanDrive, which seems to fit the bill.
Not only does this nifty app allow you to map a remote SFTP share to a drive letter, but it handles reconnecting after sleep/hibernate and changing locations very well. Couldn’t be happier. Setting it up is really easy, you just will out this form with information about the server and which drive letter you would like to use:
…and then, your files are immediately available under “My Computer.”
The only bad thing is, the application will set you back $40. There is a trial version though, to let you see if it meets your needs. Licenses are sold on a per-user basis, so you only have to buy one to use it on all of your machines.
Let me know if you know of any applications that do as good a job for less (or no) money!