Tech Support

WebDAV on Windows, the WebClient service and more

Getting WebDAV or web folders working reliably and easily on Windows XP is certainly a challenge. There are plenty of gotchas and places to go wrong. I am generally talking about an XP client connecting to a 2003 IIS 6.0 server.
First, comes the WebClient service on XP. This service is necessary for accessing a web folder as a mapped drive, but not as a network place. In fact, if the service is disabled, it can REALLY speed up other network operations and it can keep XP from choosing the wrong method for accessing the network place – \\server\directory instead of http://server/directory. More on that below.

Assuming the WebClient service is running, you’ll need to add some extra notation to get a network place to connect correctly. You can either append “/.” to the end of the URL or add the “:80” port number in the URL so the connection is made correctly. And, be prepared to WAIT while the connection is made. Luckily, the wait seems to only come from creating the connection and not opening it. Analyzing the process with filemon is especially interesting – as the client is looking for desktop.ini and three other files which generally do not exist.

Also, it does not seem possible to map a network drive to a WebDAV root share – just map to a virtual directory instead and make sure the root site has anonymous access enabled.

I don’t know what role Office XP/2003 plays in all of this. I have read that it is possible to disable the WebClient service and use the facilities of Office instead. All of this also assumes using integrated windows authentication – throw in basic authentication and SSL and this may all be different