General Networking/Lan/Wan/Remote Network

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QUESTION: Hi,
I am starting a small three person company and all three will be working from home.  We will be heavily dependent on file like documents, spreadsheets, presentations, images, etc and we need to network all our files so anyone of the three can access any file at any time.  rather than buying a network server, locating it at my house and having the others VPN into it, is there a relatively cheap yet highly reliable way to set up a remote network server and all of us access it via VPN or some other way?  To better ask it, how would you recommend we set up our network?

Thanks,
Tim

ANSWER: Hi Tim,

Gotcha - ok well in this day and age everything is "the cloud" ...  I'm sure that we'll be calling the same thing by a new name soon enough but for the moment we're calling it the Cloud.  We used to call it online file sharing  :)

Hosting it out of your place is a pain, unnecessary and it will be in your way more than helping you.  You want the technology to be automatic so that you can focus on your business.  On-line is the way to go.  Here are some options:

https://accounts.google.com/ServiceLogin?service=wise&passive=1209600&continue=https://drive.google.com/%23&followup=https://drive.google.com/<mpl=drive

http://www.techhive.com/article/259715/top_cloud_services_for_file_sharing_and_s

http://www.google.com/search?q=online+file+sharing&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=or

Have fun!

J.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks Jeff but I think i might not have been clear or i may be misreading these sites you recommended.  What i am looking for is a remote server that works just like a local server in that there appears a drive on my pc called S drive where i can save and open files.  For example, i create a Word doc called Quality Control Steps.docx, then I click on the Save button in Word and the Save As window opens showing drive locations.  It would show my C drive, D drive, E drive and the S drive which is the remote server.  I save the file in the S drive.  Then, later when i open Word and click on Open Recent Files, then click on the Quality Control Steps.docx and it opens in Word.  is there any such service out there that you know of?

Answer
Hi Tim,

Ah ... well what you are asking for is now more specific - you want it to "integrate with native Windows File Services (Windows Explorer).  That is a bit different.  There is lots of cloud-stuff out there.  Some is strictly web-based and some does support what you want.

You should probably first look at Microsoft SkyDrive.  You get like 7 gigabytes of storage for free.  Really that is quite a bit of space for just business documents.  http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/skydrive/download.  Note: you may need to install a small application to use it, but this should work well for you - provided that you aren't running an older operating system (it is kinda fair for Microsoft to only support newer OS for their own new offerings ... and they are giving it away ...).  A good deal.

Overall the biggest cloud file sharing services out there are probably Google Drive, Dropbox, and iCloud.  Of course there are many many more.  And quite a few will readily meet your desired needs but some will cost you some cash each month - and others are free!

If for some reason you don't "like" Skydrive - just google search for "cloud file sharing integrate with windows explorer".  

Good luck!

J

General Networking/Lan/Wan

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Jeff K

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I'm a Network and Application Performance Specialist, and have worked for some of the best software companies in the world.

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I have over 20 years in Information Technology & Networking.

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Lots of hard work, study and real-world experience. I've had some formal training along the way but most of my knowledge is from working in the field, not the classroom.

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