Quick & Secure Network Filesystem Access With ExpanDrive


Magnetk ExpanDrive Logo

Magnetk – makers of SftpDrive for Windows – have brought their secure, remote filesystem magic to OS X with version 1.0 of ExpanDrive.

If you have a blog/site hosted on any flavor of Linux or BSD (including OS X) or do any amount of cross-platform management or development then you know how useful ssh is for speedy & secure command-line access from the Terminal. The advent of MacFUSE on OS X brought sshfs to the Mac application landscape, though it can be slow and cryptic to setup for the average user.

ExpanDrive simplifies access to these remote filesystems via an unobtrusive menubar icon and straightforward user interface. Simply open up the ExpanDrive Manager:

ExpanDrive Manager

and enter in your connection info. You can leave the password field blank if you already have ssh public/private keys defined and configured your servers appropriately. A simple double-click of the drive in the list view mounts the filesystem and it behaves just like any AFP, SMB or attached disk.

I’m fairly mobile, moving from AT&T 3G to Wi-Fi to Ethernet throughout the day and I’ve been able to keep ExpanDrive filesystems mounted across all these transitions without the dreaded “spinning death ball” that is usually associated with the Finder and network mounts. While some Mac apps – TextWrangler and ImageWell being two that I use – have native support for SFTP, ExpanDrive provides for universal access across all applications and makes it simple to reliably integrate remote storage operations into your workflow.

If you poke around the application bundle (you do poke around application bundles, right?), you’ll find that ExpanDrive was developed with Python as a foundation, fully demonstrating that you do not need to be an Objective-C maven to create great Mac software.

ExpanDrive has an introductory price of $29.00USD, is a Universal application and runs on OS X 10.4.1 (Tiger) or higher.

If you give it a try, drop a note in the forum or comments, especially if you are using it with any type of high-speed NAS configuration.


virtual piano

It’s magic. This is exactly the way I wanted it to work. I have only tested it out a little but so far it has been exactly what I have always wanted. I was sold when I found it was as easy as their website says it is.


At work at my new company (very Linux orientated) I had to use sshfs for about a month now. It almost made me switch (I’ve been a convinced Apple user for years now and never before thought of switching neither to Linux nor to Windows). Not a single day without rebooting my poor little powerbook the hard way at least three or for times a day due to jEdit blocking the complete system. Neither Force Quit nor normal reboots were possible. I had to work with jEdit as TextMate doesn’t recognize if somebody else changed the file you’re working on (quite disappointing). Since today I’m using Smultron. Much better. It just quits unexpectedly three or four times a day while working on sshfs-mounted volumes. I can’t wait ’til monday to try ExpanDrive. Haven’t tried MacFuse/MacFusion yet, but sshfs for Mac is a pain in the rear end.


@Craig, aside from being much easier to set up and having a nicer UI, the key differences between ExpanDrive 1.0 and sshfs+MacFusion are performance and stability/resilience. ExpanDrive uses aggressive caching, making it much, much snappier over even high-latency internet connections, and it is resilient to network failures and changes, where sshfs/MacFusion will generally barf the moment you sleep your laptop and wake it somewhere else or have your wifi drop. In short, it provides the same basic feature (work with remote files over SSH) but in a much faster, more stable, more polished, and easier-to-use package.


So, what advantage specifically does this offer over the free combination of MacFuse, sshfs and MacFusion (a menubar item offering GUI config/access to MacFuse filesystems).

The combination has been rock solid in my mixed environment for over 6 months and is now an indispensable aid to system access, making most of my remote file manipulation “Mac” based, without the hassles of moving files.



I have been searching for something like this for quite a while, but I am a total newb. I would want to use this to connect to a hardrive on my windows desktop at home so I could listen to my full itunes library on my macbook.

The only problem is I don’t know what values to enter in ExpanDrive. Does my desktop computer need a static ip? Because I don’t have one. What should my “server” and “username” and “password” be in my setup.

Thanks for the help, there is next to no documentation for this software, I think it was developed for those with a little more technical savvy then I have.

Dustin Swede

It’s magic. This is exactly the way I wanted it to work. I have only tested it out a little but so far it has been exactly what I have always wanted. I was sold when I found it was as easy as their website says it is.

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