What is WebDAV and how does it differ from FTP?

Lisa Santika Onggrid November 20, 2012

Being new with online storage, I came across the term WebDAV. From what I have already read it has connection with FTP, which I also don’t actually understand. Do they make the upload and download process faster?

What differentiates them from a desktop client? How do I gain advantage from using WebDAV?

Thank you in advance!

  1. Markus Willhelm Schmid
    November 21, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    This page gives a good introduction to WebDAV and the various clients you can use:

  2. Jan Fritsch
    November 21, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Looking at "traditional" implementations the main difference is that WebDAV can be used like a shared folder, you can work with files and just hit save when done.
    FTP on the other hand requires you to download the file locally and manually upload it once saved and done. Of course with certain software or operating systems FTP may offer the same experience.

    From a more technical point WebDAV is more convenient as it doesn't require a lot of setup – all it requires is the person using it being able to visit a website (since it works via HTTP). Adding to this is the standard gzip compression that is available for HTTP transfers wherein FTP doesn't have any compression by default.

    Overall WebDAV is designed to work with documents wherein FTP is for file trees and folders. So if you want to share and work with e.g. Word files WebDAV is your friend. If you want to share folders with pictures and such FTP may be better suited.

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      November 21, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      Thank you!
      I find WebDAV can be used as aggregators too, since there are so many cloud storage services supporting it. How do you think it compares against services like Otixo or Primadesk?

      • Jan Fritsch
        November 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm

        I'm not sure I understand the comparison you want to make. WebDAV is a protocol ~ or actually an extension to the HTTP protocol. Those services you named are "services".

        WebDAV doesn't do any aggregation. It allows you to connect, access and use some online and networked storage via the HTTP protocol like a network share.
        I believe the reason most cloud storage providers allow such types of connection is because it's easy to setup, works on almost any platform and won't result in as much user support requests as e.g. if they had to use FTP.

        I don't have any experience with either service you named but from the information on the page it looks like a single sign-on service for all kinds of online storage. Similar like LastPass – one account to access your cloud files.

        • Lisa Santika Onggrid
          November 28, 2012 at 12:16 pm

          Thank you for the response. I said it can be an aggregator because most cloud storage now works with WebDAV, it's so convenient.

          That's a very complete explanation.