Wed, 11 Feb 2009 ExpanDrive 1.3.1 review
What the Mac OS X Finder should be
- Manufacturer: Expandrive
- Pros: Access servers using standard Finder actions, no Finder freezes
- Cons: Can’t perform actions that rely on Mac metadata
- Price: $29 (£19.60)
- Star rating:
The Finder in Mac OS X has always offered support for FTP, letting you work with FTP servers in the Finder as if they were any other file server. Except that it doesn’t work. Never has. You may be able to connect to a server and copy files from it to your computer, but you can’t copy files to the server, you can’t move files around, and you can’t rename files. The Finder’s FTP functionality is read-only and the Finder doesn’t support SFTP – a secure alternative to FTP.
Because of this, Mac users have turned to dedicated FTP clients. One alternative is Magnetk’s ExpanDrive, which takes advantage of MacFUSE, a Mac version of FUSE (Filesystem in User Space), which lets you implement support for a new filesystem – such as FTP or SFTP – within Mac OS X.
In ExpanDrive’s Drive Manager you configure each FTP and SFTP server you want to access. Your drive will appear in the Drive Manager list and the menu. From then on, you access a server or server share by double-clicking on it. Assuming you have a valid connection to the server or share, it mounts in the Finder, and appears in Finder-window sidebars. You can copy files to and from it and edit its contents.
As you are working with FTP/SFTP servers and shares in the Finder, standard actions – drag-and-drop to move and copy, return to rename, c-delete to delete – work as expected. You can also use Quick Look and compress remote files. Unfortunately, you can’t use an ExpanDrive-mounted volume for Time Machine backups. Also, actions that rely on Mac metadata, such as assigning colour labels, don’t work, and Spotlight doesn’t index FTP/SFTP volumes.
ExpanDrive handles dropped connections gracefully: Instead of causing the Finder to freeze, you see a “not presently reachable” message. ExpanDrive monitors your connection and automatically remounts the affected servers as soon as it can reach them.