How To Map A HTTPS-only Web Folder To A Drive

Question: In Windows XP/2003, how to map a web folder which allows for only HTTPS connections to a drive?

Windows web folder is Microsoft’s implementation of WebDAV (Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning). Two WebDAV clients: Web Folders and WebDAV Mini Redirector are integrated and preinstalled with Windows. Based on them, there are usually 2 methods to access a web folder in Windows:

1) Use ‘Add Network Place’ in ‘My Network Places’,

This always works regardless of the connection type (HTTP or HTTPS). However, you can’t map a web folder opened this way to a drive.

2) Use ‘net use’ at command line, as shown below:

net use x: http://domain-name/path-to-web-folder

The web folder is mapped to a drive, but this method only works for HTTP connection because of the limitations of WebDAV Mini Redirector:

No support for HTTPS, i.e. no support for secure connections, unless you are using Vista as a client.

No support for declared ports (

http://myserver.com:8080/dav/

) i.e. your WebDAV server must be using port 80, the default port.

No support for LOCK and UNLOCK commands, i.e. no locking if, for example, two users try to access (open) the same Word document.
Therefore, if a web folder supports only HTTPS connections, and you issue command:

net use x: https://domain-name/path-to-web-folder

you are given an error message something like ‘Sysytem error 67 has occurred. The network name cannot be found.’

A software called WebDrive does feature a function mapping a HTTPS web folder to a drive, but it is not free, unfortunately.

Good news is we can do it free, with the help of stunnel – a universal SSL wrapper.

Stunnel is a program that allows you to encrypt arbitrary TCP connections inside SSL available on both Unix and Windows. And it is licensed under GPL. We use it here as a proxy that encrypts a HTTP request to a HTTPS one and submits to WebDAV server. The details are below:

1) Download stunnel Win32 binary from [here] and install it. The latest release is 4.25.

2) Edit stunnel.conf that is located at ‘c:\program Files\stunnel\’, make the following changes:

client=yes

verify=0

and add the following section to the end of the file:

[psuedo-https]

accept = 80

connect = domain-name:443

TIMEOUTclose = 0

The ‘domain-name’ above refers to the WebDAV server’s domain name or IP address. Save the changes and start stunnel, now you should be able to map the HTTPS web folder to a drive by issuing command:

net use x: http://localhost/path-to-web-folder

Note:

      This solution has been tested to work on Windows XP Pro SP3 and Windows 2003 EE SP2.

 

      Please make sure WebClient service is on, and ‘Networking Services’ component has been installed with your Windows, otherwise you can’t use ‘net use’ command to connect web folder.
    If the WebDAV server requires Windows AD authentication, ie you must provide a user id in format of ‘domain\user’ and password so as to connect, you must logon to the domain first. My attempt to map a drive while logging on as a local user has failed, even I have forced stunnel to launch using a valid domain user id. The reason is not known yet.
 

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