ExpanDrive 2.0 Enhances GUI, Speed, and Connectivity Options

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Building on the success of their initial offering, ExpanDrive has released version 2.0 of their Mac client for accessing a wide array of online storage systems.

ExpanDrive is built on MacFUSE, an open-source project that provides the base functionality and SDK for connecting to remote and alternative filesystems. The ExpanDrive developer-alchemists have mixed in a bit of their own Python and Objective-C components to significantly enhance the potency of these MacFUSE-managed filesystems and definitely improved the formula for this major update. Read on to see what’s new in 2.0.

SFTP Overhaul

Not fully satisfied with the status quo, the developers brought the SFTP engine back to the lab and have completely re-engineered it. My tests confirmed that large file copies now transfer in approximately half the time. Traipsing through my cluttered web directories in the Finder is also a less painful experience due to a fully re-worked caching system.

An even more pleasant surprise is how quickly remote edits are detected. The video below shows a text file being edited in both vi on my very remote Linux box and also open locally in TextWrangler. Edits made on the server side show up almost instantaneously now.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzCXS9TqQJ8]

FTP/FTPS Support

ExpanDrive has had experimental support for FTP/FTPS filesystems for quite a while and has now made it a first class filesystem in version 2.0. As a daily user of the product, I regularly peruse both their Twitter activity and Get Satisfaction support forums and can attest that they really do listen to users. It’s very obvious that they wanted to make sure that FTP/FTPS support worked under as many conditions as possible before bringing it to their entire user base. If you must use FTP, you should definitely take advantage of the enhanced security in the FTPS protocol if at all possible. Standard FTP transmits both your credentials and all data completely in the clear, making it very easy for malicious users to eavesdrop on your sessions.

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GUI Enhancements

Continuing the theme of listening to their users, ExpanDrive has tweaked their GUI to provide more information about the types of drives available and provides the ability to eject volumes from their Drive Manager as well as open volumes in the Finder.

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You can now also change the drive icon and use your own icons for ExpanDrive volumes by clicking on the drive icon in the edit dialog:

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Live! New! Filesystem! (S3 Support)

Perhaps the most significant enhancement is the inclusion of support for Amazon S3. While inherently not as robust as SFTP volumes, S3-mounted volumes let you use the Finder to manage your buckets (i.e. copy/move/delete files), including setting object permissions via contextual menu. I created a test bucket via S3Fox, used ExpanDrive to move files into it and verified the results back in S3Fox.

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Should You Buy/Upgrade?

If you’ve never used ExpanDrive and regularly have to FTP/SFTP files or work with content in S3 buckets, then you really should consider giving ExpanDrive a try (list price is $39.95 for new users). Existing users should also consider upgrading just for the speed and integrity enhancements alone. Couple that with good S3 support and it’s well worth the $19.95 upgrade price (free if you’ve purchased the previous version within 60 days of release).

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