What is SFTP?

SFTP is a well known Secure File Transfer Protocol among IT folks and developers, used for integration and automation purposes. Part of its charm is that it enables remote access and file transfer within or between organizations, including the accessing, transferring and managing of files over a reliable data stream.

What does "mapping a drive" mean?

Drive mapping provides a shortcut to access a network resource, through the  assignment of  a drive letter to a remote share. The resource is stored on a different device, while behaving as any other local hard drive file. To access it, you can simply select a local drive from Windows Explorer and the resource will appear in My Computer and Windows Explorer.

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Why should I map SFTP as a drive on Windows 11?

Mapping SFTP as a drive allows you to work with a remote file system as if it were a local disk drive, eliminating the nuisance of working with files stored on remote servers by enabling you to access them as if they were on your computer quickly and easily.

Mapping 101

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  1. Install the latest version of WinFsp. Download the .msi file from here and then open it to install.
  2. Install the latest version of SSHFS-Win. Download the .msi file that is compatible with your Windows installation (32 or 64 bit) and then open it to install.
  3. We also recommend installing SSHFS-Win manager. It lets you easily manage one or more connections as well as create a connection using private/public key authentication. Download and run the .exe file from here to install.

Now that you’ve got all of the required foundations laid out, you can start mapping your SFTP servers as Windows drives.

If you haven’t installed SSHFS-Win Manager, follow these steps to map your SFTP server using user/password authentication:

  1. Open your Windows Explorer and right click This PC.
Windows Explorer -> right Click This PC -> Map network drive...
Can you see the red arrow? If not, please contact your optometrist ASAP.
  1. Click Map network drive... and in the dialog that opens, choose your drive letter.

  2. In the folder input, type your user name and host name in the following pattern: \\sshfs\[sftpuser]@[sftphost].
    For example: \\sshfs\mary@companysftp.com.

Fill out the drive letter and use the pattern above to point the Folder to your SFTP server
Just to be sure about your eyes: there are two arrows this time!
  1. Click Finish and in the next dialog enter your password.
  2. The new drive letter should now show up in your Windows Explorer and you can use it to access your SFTP server.

If you’d like to use private/public key authentication, we recommend following these steps with SSHFS-Win Manager:

  1. Open SSHFS-Win manager and add a new connection by clicking Add Connection, entering all of the required connection details. Then, click Save.
Click Add Connection, fill out the connection details and then click Save
Now to test your color vision, follow the red and green arrows
  1. Click the connection to start it.
  2. If the connection doesn’t start and there are no error messages, click Settings and ensure that the path to SSHFS Binary is set correctly. Continue to try starting the connection again.
Click Settings and make ensure SSHFS Binary path is correct
Your eyes have probably had enough by now, so there are no arrows this time, but you got this with or without them.

Unmapping SFTP on Windows

  1. Open your Windows Explorer.
  2. Right click your mapped drive and click disconnect.

And you're done! Fairly easy, right? Now go on and enjoy your easy access to files hosted on SFTP servers!

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Post photo by Timo Wielink on Unsplash