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How does a WAN looks like (in windows)?

Posted on 2004-09-01
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Last Modified: 2010-04-11
Hi

This is an easy one.

I've never seen a WAN working. I'm just familiarized with LANs where you can access files (in windows) using UNC paths like \\local_server\share\directory\file or using the Network Neighborhood. What happens in a WAN? can I access shared files the same way just opening them like \\remote_server\share\directory\file ?.

I have a small MS Access database file that works fine over LAN networks, and I want to know if it can be opened in remote locations by different users (through a WAN). This file is just a standard MS Jet DB, with no client-server architecture at all.

So...?

Thanks for any help.
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Question by:rettiseert
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Accepted Solution

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asbjorna earned 30 total points
ID: 11953288
Hello!
A WAN is a Wide Area Network whilst a LAN is a Local Area Network. Ususally a WAN is two or more LANs connected via a router. The router leaves all local network traffic untouched. If it is WAN-traffic it routes the traffic to the correct network. So it is the router which must know about the other network.

When you use UNC paths, the name is mapped to an IP-address (I assume the network protocol is TCP/IP). The WINS server does that mapping, but it can also be put into a file called lmhosts. If this mapping is working it is OK to connect to a resource via UNC paths accross a WAN. You must be aware of things going slower. If the performance is weak you can consider maintaining a copy of the database on the other LAN.

PS since this is two networks connected together it is possible that they are two different domains, which will inflict the giving of permissions PS

Good luck!
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Expert Comment

by:Eric
ID: 11953513
if you want to jump over a wan..

use a VPN to connect one segment to another (if not already conencted by the WAN). then once you are connected with the VPN software, you can use the UNC names to connect..

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Expert Comment

by:fatlad
ID: 11953714
asbjorna's explaination is correct although the way your pc words out the name from an IP address can vary, WINS and lmhosts are one way, but perhaps a more scalable option would be to use a DNS server that can provide mappings for multiple LANs.

Not sure what egiblock is talking about, a VPN and a WAN will appear very similar from your point of view, a VPN is a way of creating a virtual link to simulate a WAN, the problem of IP resolution would remain.
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Expert Comment

by:Eric
ID: 11953778
i was thinking something else..
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Assisted Solution

by:PennGwyn
PennGwyn earned 20 total points
ID: 11954958
A WAN usually(!) involves at least TWO routers:

LAN A --- router A --- WAN connection --- router B --- LAN B

Note that this is similar to

LAN A --- router A --- Internet (many routers) --- router B --- LAN B

except that the WAN connection is usually a private point-to-point link instead of going across the public Internet.

A VPN could be implemented in either case to make the network appear to be

LAN A --- VPN --- LAN B

which looks to applications just like

LAN A --- router --- LAN B

So basically your question comes down to assuring that your application can work through a router, rather than requiring client and server to be on the same subnet.

Odds are good that your actual application traffic will route just fine, but as fatlad points out, you may encounter issues resolving Windows host names through routers.  Does your application do this, or does it (preferred!) use DNS?

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Author Comment

by:rettiseert
ID: 11958251
Hi, thank you all.

so..., once the WAN is working I can open files just like I do on a LAN? If that's true, I think my software will run fine (just slow) right?.

My application is an EXE file that opens a MDB file (access database). Both files must be in the same directory in a server. All the libraries for the EXE reside on each user computer and the server only host these 2 files.

My application do not let users to do any network configuration, it just shows a standard windows "open file" dialog to select the MDB file.
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Expert Comment

by:asbjorna
ID: 11960759
Hello, again! Yes it should work just fine. I suggest you start testing the network access using Windows Explorer to check that you see the other network.

If Windows Explorer cannot see anything, try the command prompt. Net view \\server1  (note the two back slashes). This shoul give you an idication of whether you see the server or not and whether you have permissions to access the server. If everything is ok you should get a list of the shared resources on the server.

Good luck!
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