Map S3 as a Network Drive with ExpanDrive
If you’re looking to connect to S3 as a drive, ExpanDrive is an amazing option. ExpanDrive is a S3 client for Mac and Windows that lets you connect to S3 as a fast network drive. It has been under active development for more than 10 years and is one of the fastest and most reliable S3 clients available. All your files in the cloud are available from within any application including Finder and Explorer.
Version 2023.4.1 for Mac, Windows and Linux
April 10th, 2023
S3 desktop client options
Most consumer-focused cloud storage services like Dropbox or Google Drive come with their own desktop sync client. S3 differs in that it is primarily driven by an API which you need a client like ExpanDrive in order to take advantage of on your desktop. Amazon provides a fairly basic web interface, but other than that the only way to get data in and out of it is via the API.
There are a wide variety of clients to access S3, like S3 Browser or Transmit for the Mac. ExpanDrive is unique in that it translates the S3 API into an infinite-capacity external drive for macOS or PC. In practice this means Finder and Explorer now have S3 built in, as does every other app on your machine. ExpanDrive also operates as a great general S3 Browser for Mac and Windows.
Bucket level organization
S3 is organized into buckets, which are top-level folders that are uniquely named throughout the service. You can attach various policies to a bucket such as restricting access to particular users or making hosted content available to the public. ExpanDrive lets you mount the root of your S3 account, showing you all your buckets (if your user has permission to list buckets). You can restrict mount a specific bucket, or even a particular folder in a bucket, by typing the bucket name in the remote path section. For additional details you can check out our documentation on connecting to S3
S3FS for Mac and Windows
Tools like S3FS for linux perform a similar function but lack critical features like background writes, smart synchronization of files for offline access and multi-threaded reads and writes. With ExpanDrive you get a host of extra features and robust performance. Users can access petabytes of data from their laptop as if it was local. ExpanDrive works as a free S3 Client for macOS and Windows that connects you to Amazon S3 as a fast network drive.
Creating a virtual drive with Amazon S3
Amazon provides a simple guide to get started with their S3 service. You’ll need an AWS account, as well as a bucket. From there, you’ll want to get your API keys to authenticate with ExpanDrive. Haystack Software has a nice guide on how to get the keys. As with any AWS keys, it is recommended to use IAM keys rather than your root keys.
Add your Access key and Secret Key, then click Save or Connect and you’re good to go. Amazon S3 will now be visible as a network drive whenever you login to your computer – letting you access all of S3 from Finder, Explorer, Photoshop, Microsoft Office – whatever!
Drag and drop files to copy them out to the cloud. Or stream movies and media directly from S3 without needing to first download or sync them. For more information, check our documentation page on connecting ExpanDrive to S3.
ExpanDrive supports macOS 10.12 or newer and a wide variety of Linux distributions including Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Centos, Fedora, Redhat, and more. Learn more about how to install ExpanDrive for Linux here.
ExpanDrive runs on Microsoft Windows 7 through Windows 10. Windows Server 2012+ is also supported as well as RDP/Terminal services environments. ExpanDrive can isolate multiple users logged into the same machine so they each have their own view of cloud storage.