So, how do you store your files? Do you use DropBox or some other popular cloud storage app? How do you transfer files to and from your website? Why do I keep asking annoying questions like a late-night infomercial voice-over?
Here’s what makes me nervous about using so-called “free” online storage services. I remember when the Internet really started becoming popular while I was in college, online storage solutions started cropping up. At the beginning, these were usually accessible via either FTP, or later through an early-generation online explorer app. You could get a few megs or so of storage at no cost. However, just like “free Internet” services (remember NetZero free Internet?), those services either closed down with little warning, or suddenly transformed into a paid service with a free option so limited that it became essentially useless.
Why put your files at risk? And if you’re still managing your website via a classic FTP client – the sort of which has been around for decades – don’t you think it’s about time to evolve into an easier, seamless approach?
How about a way to embed a connection to your own hosting account – whether it’s just a file hosting service or a web hosting account – directly within the Windows file explorer system? Wouldn’t it be cool to essentially “mount” your hosting account to your computer? Well, we can with a really cool free app called Swish.
Embed an SFTP Link Into Windows Explorer
For years, you’ve probably used an app like FileZilla to transfer files to and from your web hosting account. First you launch the client, then you have to type in all of the connection details – the server, ID, password and port, connect, navigate to the folder with your web files, download the file you want to edit, edit it, and then upload it back to your web host.
Can you say annoying?
Instead, install Swish onto your PC and now you’ve got a convenient mounted drive right inside Windows Explorer where you can access all of your online file and web hosting accounts. No more need for an FTP client.
Within this “mounted” drive is actually the area where you create your multiple SFTP connections. These connections individually show up as a subdirectory under Swish. To create a new connection to your FTP account – whether it’s a web server or a file hosting account with FTP access – you can set it up by clicking on the “Add SFTP Connection”.
All you have to do is fill out the FTP host account, choosing port 22 at first because it’s the default port for SFTP, enter in your user name and the path of the directory you want to start out in when you connect.
Once Swish has connected to your account, the connection shows up in the blank right pane with its own connection icon of a terminal next to a globe.
The link is protected by the fact that you need to type in the account password when you double click on the connection. Don’t worry – you only have to type in the password once. Once you’re connected, you can navigate through the site, switch to other windows on your computer, navigate elsewhere on your computer, and then come back to your mounted FTP account again. It’s like your remote storage is now mounted just like you’d mount a USB drive or an external hard drive!
Once you open the account, you’ll navigate through the site just like you’re navigating through any other file structure on your computer. You don’t need to use any FTP commands to navigate – Swish handles everything in the background.
It also handles all of the background FTP commands for file transfers. Want to download a file to your computer? Well, it won’t feel like downloading at all. Just right click on one of the files in your account and click on “Send to” and then put the file in your documents folder.
There, you can edit the file using your favorite text editor (or WYSIWYG editor), and then paste it back into the mounted SFTP folder. You could even copy over entire folders to your local PC so that you could test your site on a local web server like XAMPP, and then upload the site back up to your account with a quick copy and paste.
The whole process is so much faster and easier than doing all of these file transfers using a clunky FTP client. Now you can do everything just like that as the remote hosting account is a directory right on your computer.
As a test to see whether or not the file transfer was truly instant – rather than a delayed or scheduled sync – I tried pasting a text file into the mounted SFTP directory linked to my web hosting account.
Sure enough, connecting through FileZilla, I saw the text file show up almost instantly.
I’ve used FileZilla to do my file uploads to my website for years now, but I have to be honest that the ease and convenience of Swish makes using an FTP client feel completely outdated. I love the fact that I’m synced directly to my remote account just like you would sync up any cloud storage account. This turns your remote web or file hosting account into the same sort of synced-up experience.
Have you ever tried using Swish as a file transfer solution? Have you ever used any other methods to sync up with your FTP account? Share your own thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.
Image Credit: Transferring Information Via Shutterstock