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remote networking questions for the peanut gallery - Ldy, the lemony, ligerish ducttaparian's Magic Treehouse of Lost Thoughts
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remote networking questions for the peanut gallery
In order to keep my job while in florida, I need to set up remote access to the office here in new york.

Right now, we just have a number of PCs linked together on an ethernet hub. Most of the files reside on one computer (mine).

Ideally, I'd like to have a central server, and maybe a VPN set up. There are a few problems with this lovely idea:
  • I'm not sure we can afford a server.

  • There's nobody here with technical savvy in case something goes wrong.

  • I'll be the only one accessing the system remotely, so perhaps a VPN is overkill.

It might make more sense to build another PC to store the files on, and just set-up a quick-and-dirty ssh connection.

Any thoughts?

Keep in mind that I'll probably have to implement whatever I come up with, and I am a technical luddite.*

* OK, I'm not really. But I'm not exactly MSCE material, either, despite my responsibilities as the IT chicka.

I'm feeling all kinds of: I have no idea what I'm talking about... but I will still make it work.
What I hear: Endorphin - Satie 1 (Radio Paradise - eclectic intelligent rock - music info & listener community at

10 tall tales or Tell me a story
duchess_webb From: duchess_webb Date: July 1st, 2004 09:03 am (UTC) (permalink)
I say speak with Methuss. He made our server and it rocks.

Better yet, I will go point him to this post for ya.
ldy From: ldy Date: July 1st, 2004 09:17 am (UTC) (permalink)
Awesome :) Thanks kindly!

Assuming I can extricate myself from the long list of tasks I've set myself for this evening, I'm going to ask my friends dormando (if he's feeling up to it) and horseofshadows tonight, too.

The more knowledgeable feedback I can gather, the better!
dormando From: dormando Date: July 1st, 2004 09:20 am (UTC) (permalink)
Hmmmm. I'd give you something off the top of my head, but there's the added complications of no one being there to fix it if something goes wrong. Feel free to bug me at some point so I can get more details and possibly give a decent responds :P
ztrooper From: ztrooper Date: July 1st, 2004 09:20 am (UTC) (permalink)
Well, there are a number of options.. if you just want to remote control your New York computer, and you have windows XP, just enable the remote desktop option on the XP workstation and then you can use another XP workstation to remotely connect.. presto... remote control. however, there are some caveats that need to be taken into consideration.

1. does your NY computer have a fixed IP, or a Dynamic IP, and is it OK to leave it on all the time.

2. what is your NY pc's connection to the internet? what kind of firewalls are between you in florida and your PC in NY?

if you want to go all the way to VPN, that's ok, but you'll probably be using more effort than is strictly required. I can walk you through most of the pitfalls of setting up remote desktop access into that remote network, if you want. I set up something similar for my home network so i can run my home PC's when I am at work, or really, out and about anywhere.
methuss From: methuss Date: July 1st, 2004 09:23 am (UTC) (permalink)
I suggest that you use a program called RemoteAdmin from www.famatech.com. The only thing you will need to do is open up a port on your firewall to let your requests from outside reach the computer running the software. I suggest using port 22 (FTP) because it's common and would fool a potential intruder - they think it's FTP when it's really remote-admin.

What RemoteAdmin does is allows you to remote-control a computer from another location. You see on your screen what is on the remote PC. your keyboard and mouse control goes across the internet to the other computer and operates it.

It's cheap too....about $35.
scottobear From: scottobear Date: July 1st, 2004 02:43 pm (UTC) (permalink)
real vnc works much the same, and is free-mc-freencheep.


alcestis From: alcestis Date: July 1st, 2004 09:43 am (UTC) (permalink)
I know nothing about your computer issue, but your icon makes me go "Ooooooooooh... dreamweaver! I believe you can get me through the niiiiiiiiiight!"
bitteroptimist From: bitteroptimist Date: July 1st, 2004 10:02 am (UTC) (permalink)


I think what we've done with our computers would work for this. I will email Chris about the technical info, as I have no idea what the hell I'm talking about!
From: tk7602 Date: July 1st, 2004 01:17 pm (UTC) (permalink)
are you just looking for file server access, or do you need more?

here's what i'd do for a "quick and dirty" fix.

set up any old machine with your choice of linux or bsd based free unixlike system. i'd go freebsd, since i like the ports tree a lot for building software. but, i digress.

on whatever machine you set up, make it such that port 22 (ssh, not ftp as was noted in another comment) is accessible to the outside world.

install samba on the machine. set it up so that becomes your central file server.

now people in the office can access the shared folder(s) on the linux box via samba, and you can ssh/sftp in if you need to get /put stuff.

and, if you need to do maintenance stuff, it's pretty easy to do via ssh.

i personally do not like exposing winboxes to the outside in any way, via terminal server / citrix / remoteadmin / etc.

if all you need are files, a meidiocre pc, a freebsd cd, and 2-3 hours of your life are all that you need to get things up and running.
price From: price Date: July 1st, 2004 05:40 pm (UTC) (permalink)
MCSE material makes me feel sick. :(

Anyway, more info would be nice -- you should poke me at some time. And a network diagram, either ghetto-style or an official one, would be very helpful. We deal with a lot of very small clients (in terms of their networks).
10 tall tales or Tell me a story