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Remote workers - backup internet connection advice

Posted on 2008-10-20
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Last Modified: 2010-04-21
We have some users who often work from home and in general there home ADSL internet connection is reliable however there are times when there connection is temp down. These users rely on being able to access email and network resources anytime by connecting to our VPN (sonicwall hardware VPN box)

Id like to setup an alternative or backup option for the most critical users so that they can still access network resources and email should there internet connection fail but im not sure which internet backup solution to use.

I thought perhaps 1) setting up a dialup RRAS connection, and installing some external modems,
but this could be to slow epecially when downloading larger files, and not sure how reliabe setting this up in sbs 2003 is?
or 2) alternatively getting some mobile broadband USB modem sticks that seem to be getting ever more popular.  but im not sure how reliable the speeds are? - does anyone know how reliabe the speeds are?, as in areas where 3G is not avaliable most providers divert to GPRS which is much slower.
i thought maybe using vodaphone or T-mobiles mobile broadband service.

Any advice or alternative solutions would be great

Small Bussiness Server 2003, Outlook 2003, Clients use XP pro
Location: England  
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Question by:kevin1983
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by:btassure
btassure earned 50 total points
ID: 22758807
GPRS is still faster than dial up. I wouldn't bother with RRAS, just have the users call an 0845 (assuming you are in the UK) or other pay as you go dial up internet provision and then dial the VPN from their machines. Ditto if you deploy 3G/GPRS cards. It's the most flexible option.
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JBart_17 earned 100 total points
ID: 22759059
If this is only going to be a backup solution and only used when the users ADSL line is down an unavailable.
Paying the monthly fee for wireless access cards is probably more costly then what is needed.
if there are pay as you go dial up providers that would be good, personally I've never had any dealing with any pay as you go ISPs.
I was in a similar situation, we ended up setting up a remote access server with two separate phone #'s to it. one we gave to  the MIS department. And the other we gave to a select few executives. With the understanding it was for emergencies when their Internet was down. get on get their email and get off were the instructions we gave them.  
A Remote Access Server was easy to setup and it just sat their until it was needed which real was not often.
 
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by:VCBooth
ID: 22760683
We use a range of products as SSL-VPN (and especially SonicWALL) is our core business.  You have a few.

Vodafone I find slightly better than T-Mobile.  Are you using NetExtender via SSL-VPN or are you using the GroupVPN on a SonicWALL?

If NetExtender then T-Mobile works with it beautifully - even over GPRS its 'not bad' - but on 3G its great.

If GroupVPN then you could look at the new NSA240 for the home workers.  Create a site-to-site VPN using that device and use a 3G card as a secondary backup WAN.  That way, the device kicks in.  This is a bit more expensive option (although much more reliable and you are taking issues out of users hands).

By the way - if using GroupVPN then do take a look at a SonicWALL SSL-VPN device - 100 times quicker than GroupVPN throughput.
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by:kevin1983
ID: 22765386
We use netextender via SSL-VPN, sounds like if using dialup then finding a pay as you go internet provider may be easier option than setting up RRAS to dial in with modems. but on the hand T-mobile mobile broadband could be a better/faster option but more expensive paying the monthly fees.

Initially its a few select people that id really like to provide a backup internet connection too, probably 4 people in particular so im not sure if its worth paying the monthly fee for 4 mobile broadband USB modems. VCBooth: - using the NSA240 with a 3G card as a secondary backup WAN is for setting up a backup niternet connection on the network is that correct? im more interested in creating a backup internet connection the remote users side.
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by:VCBooth
ID: 22765748
Hi - Reet then, now we have a better scenario - sorry I misunderstood you.

A great backup solution for you may be as follows:

2 x NSA 240 devices with 3G cards in High Availability so that should one device go down, the other continues to operate perfectly and quickly.

Now, SonicWALL are also allowing NetExtender connections to the new NSA devices (coming very soon) - so you can connect directly to the NSA 240 via NetExtender rather than using the SSL-VPN - so its another backup solution for you too.
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Author Comment

by:kevin1983
ID: 22765924
VCBooth: im still not sure what you mean, i thought the NSA 240 device is for providing a backup internet connection on the network by using a 3g card  or am i missing something?, wheres i am looking for a backup internet connection that users can use at there home should there home internet connection go down, to enable them to connect to the internet and then connect to our network via the vpn.

why would i need 2 x NSA 240 devices?- is there monthly fees for this?, are you saying users should use 3g cards on there computers at home?,  please can you clarify?
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by:VCBooth
ID: 22765947
Hi Kevin, sorry mate tad confusing there

What hardware do you have in place at your office just now?  I was talking about you using the NSA 240 at your office as a backup solution, I think I may have been confused.

Are you talking about the backup solution at your office end, or a backup solution at the users home office end?
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by:VCBooth
VCBooth earned 100 total points
ID: 22765953
Right re-read your question and a few answers.  So you are talking about a connection at the users home.  Then I would suggest a Vodafone or T-Mobile (area dependent - they both work great in different areas) card for the users computer.

In fact - at my home my Vodafone 3G connection is actually a lot better than my BT home ADSL connecton so I pretty much use Vodafone all the time.
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Author Closing Comment

by:kevin1983
ID: 31507841
Ok, thanks for your comments, for some of our remote users im thinking of switching them over to a BT bussiness broadband package that includes a main phone line based broadband + mobile internet USB modem (GPRS/3G) that can be used as a backup. I may install a dialup modem in a few of the most critial pcs so that they can dial into a pay as you go ISP just in case as a 3rd internet backup. (P.s sorry about the late feedback)
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by:JBart_17
ID: 22843466
glad to be of assistance, thats what we are all here fore
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