Open / Save to a Server

Opening & saving files on an iPad is different to the equivalent process on a PC or a MAC. Windows and OS X machines can connect to an external file server where the list of files and folders is visible and can be browsed. iPads cannot do this natively.

On an iPad files can be opened and saved primarily in two ways.

Using iTunes

ITunes is Apple’s standard way of moving files between an iPad and a PC or MAC. The iPad is connected to a PC / MAC by a USB cable and files are copied by: open iTunes, select the iPad from the Devices section on the left, click on the Apps tab and scroll down to File Sharing. This technique works well for simple file transfers.

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Use a WebDAV Server

Where it is necessary to open and save files to external devices such as a File Server, it is more problematic. iOS (the iPad operating system) does not support connecting to Windows file servers or similar. The one technique that does work on an iPad is to use a system called WebDAV. Implementing WebDAV is not something that can easily be achieved by a user as it requires that a WebDAV server be set up by a technician or network manager. However, most organizations will have some form of server already in place e.g. a Windows server, or an Apache Web Server. Both of these can have WebDAV components added relatively easily. For organisations who use Microsoft’s SharePoint product it’s worth noting that SharePoint has WebDAV support built in.

An alternative approach is to set up a dedicated WebDAV server. As always there are both hardware and software solutions available. The kanex meDrive (about £80) is a small box about the size of an iPhone that plugs into the network and acts as a WebDAV server. Alternatively there are various software WebDAV server programs available. BARRACUDA Drive is a simple to install WebDAV server, is free for non-commercial applications (education counts as non-commercial) and will run on any Windows version from XP upwards, on a MAC and (for those feeling adventurous) on a Raspberry Pi.

If your organization does not have a WebDAV server you can use a Cloud based storage facility that supports WebDAV. Be very careful when doing this as many of these services are based outside Europe and so do not adhere to UK and European Data Protection rules. There are some cloud storage providers who are based in Europe and offer WebDAV Access. One example is Cloudsafe whose servers are based in Germany.

Connecting to a WebDAV Server

Once a WebDAV server is set up it is easy to use. On the iPad open a WebDAV enabled App such as any of the iWork Apps (Pages, Numbers or Keynote) . Then click on the + sign on the top left of the screen and then Copy from WebDAV. You may need to give the iPad a user name and password once but it will remember these for later use.

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To save a file to a WebDAV server click on the Tools menu and then save to WebDAV.

NOTE: Both Windows PCs and MACs have built in WebDAV clients so can also connect to the WebDAV server easily. This means that files can be shared between many different types of device on the network.

 

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