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How do I configure two offices using 1 server and make it seamless for the remote office to access data?

Posted on 2007-10-08
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Last Modified: 2010-04-19
I have a customer with 2 locations.  Putting in new server Windows 2003 with Exchange 2007.  Location 1 will contain the server as a domain.   Location 2 needs to access the server remotely.   I can do terminal server for them to access, but is there a more seamless way for them to see the data.   Both locations have DSL.    Does it need a vpn to do this?  If it is a vpn, will the remote pc's see the server as if they were in the office with them?  Any help would be appreciated.
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Question by:Kevin Caldwell
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LauraEHunterMVP earned 1000 total points
ID: 20033905
With a site-to-site VPN, clients at the remote site will be able to access shares and applications as though they were sitting at the main location (with the obvious exception that performance will be dependent on the speed of the WAN.)  It will be procedurally seamless, which is what it sounds like you're looking for: I can map a network drive to \\server\share while in the main office, I can map a network drive to \\server\share while in the remote office - no change in procedure depending on where I'm logging in from.

Any number of options for deploying site-to-site VPNs, you can use a Windows computer running ISA server on each end, or a dedicated hardware device on each end.  All depends on the # of users and the budget you have allocated to the project.
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by:KCTS
ID: 20034013
DEpending on the speed of the connection terninal services might be more appropriate though you really need two servers for this to do it properly http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/techinfo/overview/termserv.mspx
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by:Kevin Caldwell
ID: 20034016
I have approx. 8 users at the main location and then 4 users at the remote.  So it would be better to put the server at the end with the most users?    What about using the LInksys VPN router?  I use a lot of  LInksys devices and find them quite easy to configure.    For the remote devices, do you join them to the domain like you would the local devices?
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by:pstrawser
ID: 20034046
hq1  ---- vpn ----- bo2   (constant connect like site to site vpn)

using windows 2003 r2 server

install fileserver DFS management on both server
enable dfs file sharing and share the  read link below. it has video on howto and explain how it work and also read about Shadow Copy..  this help me a lot with recovering data.. instead for yesterday tape backup....

http://www.microsoft.com/winme/0512/25905/Branch_Server_demo_mbr.asx  - video
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/technologies/storage/dfs/default.mspx
http://www.networkworld.com/newsletters/nt/2003/0728nt2.html


this will help you with your file sharing and faster access for users

have a great day!!!

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by:Kevin Caldwell
ID: 20034162
There is only 1 server and it should probably be at the location with more users.
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by:pstrawser
ID: 20034333
hq1 - will have all the domain control/ exchange / etc..  

but on the branch office .. you just need to install another server ( regular workstation with windows 2003 on it and put the (large HD)  follow the  dfs howto and your good to go.. so the user will only use the dsl or vpn connection for email  and server- to - server connection like   ad
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by:lnkevin
ID: 20040307
DFS is a great way to approach in term of fast accessing and backup and recovery for data in different locations. DFS is just another copy of your file server at the remote location. With content easily publishable to local servers that are part of a namespace, users in branch offices can access their data locally. Downside is you need to maintain another server and the data replication.
However, if you customer is not willing to pay for another server at the remote site, you then put your server at the more usage place where you have more users and of course closed to the executive staffs(main office) and the remote office will VPN to it. If the remote office does not have many users, it should not be a problem to access file over WAN. Otherwise, you will notice a delay while accessing file over WAN.

K
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by:pstrawser
ID: 20106274
update
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by:Kevin Caldwell
ID: 20108069
At the moment, the customer really doesn't want to purchase another server for the remote location.  The DFS sounds great, but without the extra server, that is no good.   You looks like setting up a vpn between the 2 locations to make the network appear seamless would be best.  Any other thoughts on that?   Also, 3 of the users will be going between the server site and the remote site.  They have desktops at both locations.    I have connected the desktops at the server site to the domain controller.   I have been waiting on my static IP from the ISP to configure exchange.  In the meantime, I have them doing terminal server into the server from the remote site to get email.  So now, they have a desktop at the server site, a desktop remotely and the terminal server desktop.  Would roaming profiles help this situation?  Any other thoughts on the whole vpn thing?
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by:Kevin Caldwell
ID: 20108164
When you have a vpn between the two sites, do you connect the remote workstations to the domain just like they are in the building?
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by:pstrawser
ID: 20286123
sorry to ask this, but what does the company do?

do you guys use microsoft product?

roaming profile will be best if you have the same software installed on every computer, the problem with that is if the email get large or the user store their data on their desktop, everytime they login it will take a long time, if they are located on branch office and polling data (roaming data) from the hq.

if you use email from terminal server anyway-- and that's the only thing they need on every offices, you don't need roaming profile.

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Author Comment

by:Kevin Caldwell
ID: 20286289
It is an insurance underwriter with a main office, with a remote office of 4 people.  Right now I have them using terminal server and it is working well.   I tried setting up a vpn between the 2 sites.  It works, but because both ends have dsl, the upload speed is too slow to work efficiently.
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by:lnkevin
lnkevin earned 1000 total points
ID: 20288916
When you have a vpn between the two sites, do you connect the remote workstations to the domain.....

Yes, you do. The VPN takes place at firewall or router level. Your remote PC could be able to join the domain after VPN established successfully. If you can ping your DC successfully from the work station, you can try to join it to the domain. For the remote workstation, you only need to use netbios name to join the domain. Make sure you login with admin credential to perform the task.

It works, but because both ends have dsl, the upload speed is too slow to work efficiently...
Contact the dsl company to upgrade the main office to SDSL or ADSL to have better performance. You should be real careful (upgrade your security appliances before T1) when you plan to upgrade to T1.

K

K
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Author Comment

by:Kevin Caldwell
ID: 20289264
The owner has a proposal for T1 service, but is shy about making the change.  With insurance, people tend to change it at the end of the year, so this is their busy time.   He knows his options.  The DSL is only a 300 upload speed, so it was a dog with the vpn.  I was able to connect a remote pc to the domain, just like it was in the same office, but dog slow.
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