Last semester I arrived at my office only to release that I did not have my USB drive in my pocket. Since I keep my grade files on it, that was a bit of a problem. Fortunately, the files on my office PC were actually up to date. I later found my drive amidst the ferns by my door-I had accidentally pulled it out of my pocket when getting my keys.
Naturally enough, I wanted to find an easy solution to the problem of having my my grade files readily accessible.
In the past I had used the somewhat awkward solution of emailing the files to myself. Of course, that is a bit of work and technology is all about letting people be lazy (plus distributing porn or killing people).
I thought that the easiest solution would be to have an internet drive, but I did not want to rely on a third party that could go belly up or even pay extra money for a service. Since I don’t have any budget from my school, the free part is rather critical.
Luckily, I remembered Netdrive, which was once developed by Novell. I found out that a program with the same name and function is still being made. It is free for personal use and well worth it. You can get it here.
The program itself does not provide storage. Rather it does the rather neat trick of mounting a site as a drive on your PC. That way you can navigate it like a normal drive. The most useful feature is that if you use it to connect to a FTP or WebDAV server that you have read/write access to, you can use it exactly like a hard drive. That is, you can copy files to and from it by dragging and dropping. This is much more convenient that the usual FTP program approach.
One concern I did run into is that some sites (such as some web hosting sites) will work with the program but have rather limited name conventions that they accept. If you run into problems trying to copy files with names such as “Ethics Fall 2009” (as opposed to ethicsfall2009) then that might be the issue you are running into.
If you already have your own website with FTP space, you can use Netdrive to turn it into a network drive. If you are a broadband subscriber, the odds are that you have some modest space available-just check the ISP web site for the address you need. In the case of Comcast, it is upload.comcast.net and you use your account name and password to gain access. I have also tried it with Yahoo hosting as well.
When using a site as a drive, be sure to be aware of space and usage limitations. Also, it is a good idea to make sure that important files are backed up-you never know when that site might have a problem.
Naturally, you should also be concerned about security. After all, the files will be sitting on an FTP server. In the case of my grade files, any intruder would need to have a copy of the software to read them as well as the password needed to get into them. So, I’m not too worried about that.