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Windows 2003 Server and remote users

Posted on 2011-02-24
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
Hello all,
Okay this one is a little strange and I have never worked with something like this.
One of my new clients has a Windows 2003 server in the home office, which only has two PCs.
They have three remote users that never come into the home office.  These users do not have offices and live in different parts of the country and they travel alot.
Obviously they do not share files and documents, which they should, including their Quickbooks data.
To me the perfect ideal would be to have all the files saved on the file server and that backed up nightly (and of course an offsite backup), but I have never worked with remote users that do not have a remote office so a VPN could be setup.
How would you do this?  Would you just do a terminal services connection?
What about security for something like this?
Thanks.
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Question by:chillepod
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by:Jerod Sanderson
Jerod Sanderson earned 175 total points
ID: 34973210
If they have the CAL's for Terminal services that would be the best way since TS is only passing screen shots of the server desktop they are using.  a VPN setup is ok as long as they are not pulling large amounts of data.  for example a 10mb Quickbooks data  file could take minutes to load on the local workstation.  
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Hypercat (Deb) earned 325 total points
ID: 34973679
I agree, Terminal Services would be the best solution in the circumstances. There are some costs, though. In addition to having to purchase terminal server CALs, I'm pretty sure they would need to be using Quickbooks Enterprise in order to run it successfully on a terminal server without concerns about potential data corruption and problems with multiple concurrent users. The ideal setup for security purposes would be to do both - VPN plus terminal services.  The VPN connection provides the extra security by creating an encrypted tunnel and the TS connection provides much speedier response time than a straight VPN connection.
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by:chillepod
ID: 34973814
Okay, but how can I create a VPN connection for traveling users?  I understand from site-to-site where there is an appliance (such as Cisco) on each end to do the VPN.
So would I want to get a Cisco appliance and use the VPN software on the PCs then do TS through that?
Thanks.
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Expert Comment

by:Hypercat (Deb)
ID: 34973868
You could set up the Windows server as a Remote Access server; this is probably the easiest way so that you don't have to worry about distributing a proprietary VPN client.  This will use the built-in VPN client that comes with every Windows machine.  Here are a couple of different articles that might be helpful:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc736357(WS.10).aspx

http://www.techrepublic.com/article/configure-a-windows-server-2003-vpn-on-the-server-side/5805260
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by:Hypercat (Deb)
Hypercat (Deb) earned 325 total points
ID: 34973898
Once the VPN server is set up you then would have the clients connect using the Windows remote access client.  The only other gotcha here is that on the server side, they have to have a static public IP address. Most home users don't have that, so if your client has a residential account with his ISP, he would probably have to pay extra for a static IP address.
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Author Comment

by:chillepod
ID: 34973926
Okay I am confused by the static public IP address.
That is just for the home office and not for the remote users, correct?
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Expert Comment

by:Hypercat (Deb)
ID: 34974020
Yes - for the remote users to be able to connect to the home office, the home office needs to have a static public IP address. Otherwise the remote users wouldn't have any way to know how to connect to the home office.
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Author Closing Comment

by:chillepod
ID: 34974237
What I was looking for.  Thank you
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