The Best WebDAV Hosting: Who's The Best For Your Site? [Updated: 2018]

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Brenda Barron
Brenda Barron

Brenda is a writer and WordPress enthusiast. She works with us through her company The Digital Inkwell. You can find her tech work (especially on WordPress) throughout the internet. In addition, she publishes science fiction and fantasy stories under the name Brenda Stokes Barron. She lives with her husband and two children in southern California.

Why Use Webdav?

What You'll Learn

Ever wondered how the web is so intuitive and mouldable for human use? Well, this is due to its interactivity. On this page, you'll learn about the best hosting plans to pick from, when prioritizing WebDAV functionality. While WebDAV is a key ingredient of interactivity, it isn't the only one. I will further teach you about its history and other positives (and negatives).

Furthermore, you'll also learn about why a server supporting WebDAV modules can be useful as a webmaster.

Here's What Your WebDAV Hosting Needs To Offer

Hosting providers who offer support for file transfer using WebDAV generally do so as an option in the hosting account control panel. In cPanel this option is Web Disk. Not all hosts have enabled WebDAV access, and web hosts who do offer it typically place limits on what can be stored on the server. Be sure to confirm that your intended usage doesn’t run afoul of your hosting provider’s policies. We have found A2 Hosting to be a great choice among hosting providers who offer WebDAV server access.

What Is WebDAV?

Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) is one of the technologies that make the web interactive. Developed starting in the late '90s and finalized in 2007, the technology was created to extend HTTP and make the web "writeable," meaning the people viewing the pages could also create content for them.

That includes sharing files - a key technology for online collaboration.

What Does WebDav Get Used For?

WebDAV isn't responsible for all interactive content, but it was certainly the first step in that direction. Technically, WebDAV is an extension of the HTTP protocol that we use to browse web pages, and it's also an open standard.

WebDAV Hosting

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A2+Hosting screenshot
A2 Hosting Lite plan
  • Support 4.5 stars
  • Features 4.5 stars
  • Uptime 4.5 stars
  • Value 4.5 stars
4.5 stars
226 user reviews
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$3.92/mo
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LiquidWeb 2 GB VPS plan
40GB 10TB
  • Support 4.5 stars
  • Features 4.5 stars
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4.5 stars
62 user reviews
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$59.00/mo
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1&1 Windows Unlimited plan
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WebFaction Webfaction Plan
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4 stars
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123-reg Professional plan
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StartLogic SUPERCHARGE Web Hosting plan
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An Alternative to FTP

Filezilla for FTP
Filezilla is a popular, free FTP solution.

WebDAV is also considered a sturdy alternative for file transfer and handling. If you work with files and file access frequently, you will be aware of some limitations of FTP. Well, WebDAV offers a few perks which will make it a viable alternative.

There are a number of reasons why this is often mentioned by existing users - here are some, to give you an idea:

  • Bypassing Firewalls
  • Faster File Transfers
  • GZIP Handling
  • Authentication
  • Partial Transfers and Uploads

Bypassing Firewalls

WebDAV operates on a Transmission Control Protocol connection, in other words, TCP. Due to this TCP connection, it's simpler to configure to bypass a firewall, along with proxies and NATs. While using FTP, the data channel is known to frequently cause problems during a setup.

Faster File Transfers

Similarly to the perk above due to TCP, smaller file transfer is faster with WebDAV. Files do not need to have data connection individually, making the process faster and simpler.

GZIP Handling

GNU Zip is a popular file format. The compression of GZIP is considered standard for HTTP, however not for FTP. Therefore anyone struggling with GZIP matters will be glad to know that WebDAV indeed supports it.

Authentication

Many authentication methods in HTTP are in-fact not supported or defined in FTP, which is a shame. Since it's difficult to get support for some of these popular authentication methods like Kerberos, WebDAV eliminates a further step for us.

Partial Transfers and Uploads

WebDAV fully supports partial transfers. In FTP, partial file uploads are not possible at all. In other words, when you are transferring a set of data, overwriting cannot be done in the middle of the transfer.

Brief History of WebDAV

WebDAV was developed by the World Wide Web Consortium - the organization that grew the concept of the web itself. WebDAV was designed to make the internet a "read/write" medium, so readers could change content on web servers as well as consume it.

Beginning of WebDav

The project was started in 1996, and development took well over a decade. Both Linux and Microsoft servers adopted it; Linux with Apache, and Microsoft through IIS. It was started by Jim Whitehead, a now well-known PhD graduate from UC Irvine.

Apple is keen on WebDAV and uses it to prop up much of its file-sharing technology. WebDAV is the technology that lets you open iWork documents on your iPad, for example.

How WebDAV Works

How WebDAV Works

All implementations are based on the use of a virtual disk, giving you a convenient way of storing files remotely. You can connect to the disk at boot, or mount the drive once your computer has started.

How WebDav Works With Different Operating Systems

Each operating system works with WebDAV a little differently.

  • On Linux, users can mount a WebDAV share as though it was a local disk. Many shared hosting providers offer this feature.
  • On Windows, you can use WebDAV to map a network drive to your computer.
  • On Mac, WebDAV lets users share files across the web and on their own home or office network. WebDAV is behind network file sharing in iWork, for example. It also supports iCal calendar sharing.

You can also store files through drag-and-drop in your web browser, depending on the tools your host provides.

WebDAV Technical Advantages

Technical Advantages of WebDAV

WebDAV offers a few key features that make web content interactive, much like a regular file system. These advantages are why WebDav remains popular with some users.

What are Top Features of WebDAV?

So, let's take a look at why WebDAV is often a preferred method of file handling by users across the web:

  • Allow content to be copied and moved to a web server;
  • Facilitate the storage of large files;
  • Automatically save version information to a file;
  • Set access permissions on a file;
  • Let users lock files for editing, which prevents multiple users from editing the same content;
  • Auto unlock feature to prevent users from leaving active locks behind;
  • Interact and search XML metadata for any given file;
  • Edit content collectively such as HTML, image files, media, and scripts;
  • Connect to data through a firewall without the complexity needed to use FTP.

Some of these 'advantages' may not even be a decision influencer for you. Take your time and consult your inner thoughts (or developer) if they are. Furthermore, check for any frictive lack of features which could impact your choice of a hosting plan.

WebDAV Support

Finding a Host With WebDAV Support

WebDAV is provided with many web hosting accounts, and your operating system will natively support it, so it's really easy to use. However, there are a few features you should specifically look for when trying to find the best host for WebDav.

Which Host Offers the Best Features for WebDAV?

Let's compare the 3 top hosts we recommend with WebDAV, in the form of basic factors. Further down the page, we do extensively cover each provider.

Host Features for WebDAV A2 Hosting WebFaction LiquidWeb
Phone support Yes No Yes
Live chat Yes No Yes
Support documents Yes Yes, very good Limited
One-click installation Yes No No
Q&A/active community Yes Yes Yes

Should you wish to jump straight to the hosting provider analysis, it's worth scrolling down to the bottom of the page now. Before you do that though, you may want to carry on sucking up the useful tips I've assembled.

Queries to Consider

Moreover, here are a few things to consider about a prospective host:

  1. Does the host offer WebDAV support?
  2. Does it meet your storage needs?
  3. Is it affordable for what you need?
  4. Does the host offer 1-click installation?
  5. Do they have a solid knowledge base where you can find information?

When you feel like you've found a host or set of hosts which could work, ask the above questions. Realizing you've encountered a preventable road-block is not only frustrating but time-wasting and at times expensive.

cPanel & WebDAV

Web Disk in cPanel
Finding Web Disk is rather simple in cPanel.

In cPanel hosting accounts, WebDAV is called Web Disk, and it's been available for over a decade through the control panel. Not all hosts support it, but many offer it as standard on even the most basic shared hosting plan.

Running via cPanel

When you log into cPanel and head to Web Disk, you can choose your operating system. cPanel automatically generates a setup file that you can download to your computer. Double-click this file and a WebDAV share will be automatically created on your machine.

You can then drag files straight into that share, and they'll be copied to your web hosting space immediately. Note that your files are not publicly visible, as WebDAV stores file separately to your website.

Does Your Host Support WebDAV?

As mentioned, WebDAV is most often referred to as Web Disk in your control panel. Sometimes you can't find any mention of WebDAV or Web Disk on a host's sales website, but more often than not it's advertised on some sort of landing page.

Searching for WebDAV Support

Therefore, we recommend searching 'host name + web disk' or 'host name + WebDAV' on any host's site you might be interested in. This method works for almost anything due to Google's ever-improving algorithm, but in support query cases it's even more useful.

Google users can use site search to look for mentions of WebDAV. For example, searching: "www.a2hosting.com WebDAV" will quickly turn up mentions of WebDAV.

WebDAV Storage Needs

WebDAV shares use up valuable hosting resources, so keep an eye on the amount you're uploading, since very large files will hog storage and bandwidth. For best security, look for a host that will back up the contents of your WebDAV folder.

Consider the Ease of Creating WebDAV Access

As for creating WebDAV access and going through the authentication process, you'll create a WebDAV application, then move onto the user creation step.

WebFaction has detailed documentation to grant and remove access for certain users, but it's a little more complicated than the basic application button we've seen from the likes of LiquidWeb.

Support Quality from WebDAV Hosting Companies

WebDAV live chat with A2 Hosting
Live chat with A2 Hosting is moderately simple to access and use.

Considering WebDAV serves a purpose for many types of organizations, both beginners, and advanced users will want to give it a try. Solving issues with something like WebDAV can turn into a real burden, which you want to avoid.

How Does The Host Offer Support?

Regardless of your skill level, it's essential to find a hosting company that not only offers WebDAV tools but also knows how to solve problems in that realm. A great support team is golden in any case when selecting a hosting plan, but in this case, it's paramount.

It's best when you can speak with someone who's knowledgeable is available at all times. To solve the problem immediately instead of telling you a list of instructions is much more valuable.

Pros and Cons of WebDAV

Pros and Cons of WebDAV

As with any technology, there are pros and cons to using WebDAV. For example, when compared to FTP or SMB, WebDAV tends to run a little slower. However, WebDAV does offer additional abilities outside of just transferring files.

Below is a quick break down of reasons you may or may not want to consider using WebDAV.

Pros

  • You're interested in a more secure method for transferring files since FTP is not secure.
  • WebDAV doesn't require you to open multiple ports for the file transfer.
  • File locking is common with WebDAV, whereas other methods don't have this feature.
  • You'd like to map your storage as a network drive by using systems like Windows, Mac, and Linux.
  • You want your users to collaborate by editing and managing files on the server.

Cons

  • You're looking for the most efficient method for transferring files. This would be done by using FTP.
  • Some hosts don't support WebDAV at all.
  • WebDAV has been known to be rather slow compared to other alternatives. It's also not the best when it comes to memory usage.

Further Considerations of WebDAV

Microsoft was involved with the development of the WebDAV standard, but its Windows operating system has weak support for the protocol. For the few users still using Vista, there's a patch you can install but upgrading to a newer version is a better option.

On Windows 7, you're best off using a third-party application, rather than Windows Explorer.

Some users report that saving to a WebDAV drive isn't always reliable on Windows. For that reason, it's best to save locally and then copy final versions over to your WebDAV share.

WebDAV Hosting Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is WebDAV?

    WebDAV was designed to make websites more interactive. It allows users to upload files to a website, edit the content of pages, and edit data.

  • Do all hosts include WebDAV?

    No. Some hosts have copyright and resource usage concerns. Check your control panel to see if WebDAV or Web Disk is mentioned.

  • Should I use WebDAV to store files online?

    If your host allows you to use WebDAV, it can provide a handy storage location for large files. But if you are a heavy user, cloud storage is probably a safer bet. Excessive WebDAV usage could violate your host's Terms of Service, which could result in your website being taken offline. Additionally, some methods of connecting to WebDAV expose your cPanel username and password, which is a security risk.

  • How can I incorporate WebDAV into a website or app?

    WebDAV is an extension of HTTP, so you can use any HTTP API to add WebDAV support for your website or app. There are WebDAV APIs for other protocols too.

  • How do I create a WebDAV share?

    In your hosting control panel, look for your WebDAV or Web Disk settings. You can drag and drop files directly into this area to upload them.

    If you prefer to mount a virtual drive, you can use the Connect to Server dialog in the Mac OS X finder. On a Windows computer, visit your cPanel control panel and use the script provided to set up the connection.

  • How does WebDAV compare to cloud storage services?

    WebDAV is more versatile than cloud storage. It can be used to sync data, for example. Cloud storage services also tend to have higher resource limits, although this depends on your host's policies.

  • How do I view files on a WebDAV server?

    You can use your hosting control panel, various command line tools, your computer's Finder or file explorer, or a desktop application.

  • How could a business use WebDAV?

    WebDAV lets people upload, edit, and collaborate on files from anywhere, which is the most common use case. However, it's wise to evaluate the features and risks of WebDAV alongside a proprietary cloud collaboration tool.

  • Can I convert a non-WebDAV application into a WebDAV app?

    Yes. An application can be programmed to utilize it.

  • Are there alternatives to WebDAV?

    Yes. The main alternatives are FTP and AtomPub.

  • Is WebDAV still being developed?

    The WebDEV protocol is no longer being developed, but some variation and extensions are.

  • Does WebDAV provide document management?

    No, WebDAV is essentially a remote file system with some extra features. To increase the feature set, it needs to be part of a bigger application.

  • How does WebDAV compare to FTP?

    WebDAV works over HTTP, so it provides a number of benefits compared to FTP. These include authentication, encryption, proxy support, caching, and partial file transfers.

  • What is RFC 4917?

    RFC 4917 is the official protocol. It was completed in 2007.

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