WebDAV is an FTP-like protocol you can use to remotely access or share your files over the Internet. But WebDAV works better through firewalls than FTP and can be encrypted easier.
In our previous article on WebDAV, we discussed how to set up the WebDAV server that comes with Windows, a process that includes enabling the Internet Information Services (IIS) and WebDAV publishing features, configuring the IIS authentication and WebDAV authoring rules, adding virtual directories, and configuring your firewall.
This month we’ll share some tips and tricks on using the WebDAV server in Windows:
Troubleshooting Access Issues
When accessing files via WebDAV there are three sets of permissions that are checked: the WebDAV authoring rules, your IIS permission settings and your Windows file permission settings. If you have issues when accessing files, verify that each set of permissions is offering the desired level of authentication/access.
Remember too that files placed in the IIS and WebDAV directories may have different file permissions than other files, so you may have to adjust the file permissions accordingly.
If you still experience issues when attempting to access via WebDAV, ensure that Windows is up-to-date, especially the Software Update for Web Folders (KB907306).
Another thing to check if there are problems is whether WebClient Services is running in the Windows Services console (services.msc).
Don’t Use Basic Authentication with HTTP
For WebDAV you can’t use Basic Authentication with HTTP, which is a good thing since the password would be sent in plain text and open to any eavesdroppers to capture.
When configuring the IIS authentication for WebDAV site, try Windows Authentication or HTTPS encryption if you’ve configured IIS with a SSL certificate. While HTTPS would encrypt all the WebDAV traffic, Windows Authentication encrypts just the password.
Enable Directory Browsing
If you have Directory Browsing turned on, you can type the WebDAV server’s URL into a browser, authenticate as required, and you’ll see a listing of your files that you can download directly. While this doesn’t provide the same functions as traditional WebDAV, it does offer you access to the files from anywhere using a browser.
To turn on Directory Browsing in IIS, select the Default Web Site, double-click “Directory Browsing,” and then click “Enable” on the right.
Publish Office Documents to the Web
If you’d like to put documents on the web to be viewed via a web browser you can publish them via Microsoft Office. Simply choose the “save as a Web Page” file type and save the document to the WebDAV folder. Then it will be published and viewable via a browser.
Map as a Network Drive
As mentioned in the previous article, you can map a WebDAV server as a network drive in Windows via the command prompt — for instance, using the following command on the same PC:
net use * http://localhost
You can also create mapped network drives using the GUI. To do so, open Computer, press the Alt key, select Tools and select Map Network Drive. Simply enter your WebDAV address as the Folder address.
Check Out the Microsoft Documentation
In this column, we’ve shared some basic tips and tricks to using WebDAV in Windows. If you still have questions or issues, keep in mind that Microsoft offers some valuable WebDAV documentation and help on their IIS website.
Eric Geier is a freelance tech writer — keep up with his writings on Facebook. He’s also the founder of NoWiresSecurity, a cloud-based Wi-Fi security service, and On Spot Techs, an on-site computer services company.