Can I use Remote Desktop Connection as VPN?

I'm very confused about Microsoft's Remote Desktop Connection. I'm very new to this and I remember I used to use RDC to connected to our Windows Server 2003 machine to use shared folders and files. Now that we purchased SBS 2011 Standard I can't figure out how to do that. Can I still use RDC to connect to SBS 2011? I can do it from my personal account (administrator account), but any standard user account gives me error about terminal services setup. Is there still a way to make it work without purchasing premium add-on? Thanks and much appreciated.
ilyawizardAsked:
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Ady FootSharePoint ConsultantCommented:
Yes you can achieve this - simply add standard users to the 'Remote Desktop Users' group and hey presto!

Regards,

Ady
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ilyawizardAuthor Commented:
I did and I'm getting this message:

"To log on to this remote computer, you must be granted the Allow log on through Terminal Services right. By default, members of the Administrators group have this right. If you are not a member of the Administrators group or another group that has this right, or if the Administrators group does not have this right, you must be granted this right manually."

Which is why I think Terminal Services are required for this that's part of the premium add-on.
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Ady FootSharePoint ConsultantCommented:
Ah yes - it seems that SBS 2011 is limited in this regard as SBS 2003 was:
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/Forums/en/smallbusinessserver/thread/7c028f80-c8bd-482a-ae0f-e7dd972c3c5c

So unfortunately it is not possible unless you use Terminal Services.

Regards,

Ady
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
I wouldn't allow standard users to log onto SBS anyways; it is center of your network and one misclick and the whole thing tumbles down.

With that said, SBS comes with a great technology called RWA. One component of RWA is a web-based RDP client that allows standard users to connect to their workstation in the office. This would accomplish the same goal; access to shared files, but without the risk.

Another feature of RWA is direct access to shares if you set it up to do so, so you wouldn't even necessarily have to use RDP. You should really check out RWA and the technet articles surrounding setting it up and using it. Could meet all your needs without any VPN required.

-Cliff
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ilyawizardAuthor Commented:
I was actually using RWA for some time now and while it's a great tool for me, other remote users who work from home will not be happy about it. They got used to remote desktop connection and working on the server directly. Now I understand what you mean about "misclick". While I'm not a sysadmin (have been a web developer for 6 years) I see how other sysadmin who used to work here screwed up. He basically gave everyone admin access to server and all shared folders. Now I see that VPN/RDC to the server is out of the question and thank you for clearing this up.

Now, I have been reading about Direct Access, but doesn't it require premium add-on anyway? From what I've read this is a perfect set-up with shared folders.

My final question now is what is a better way to share folders with remote users? In RWA can you lock files while using them? What if multiple people download the same file and start uploading different versions to the server?

Thanks you.
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Ady FootSharePoint ConsultantCommented:
If you're solely interested in users being able to access shared folders, you can simply use a standard VPN as the users will be able to map a network drive to the shared folder across the VPN.

That wouldn't solve your 'multiple use' issue though - for that you really need a SharePoint site which would also be accessible through the VPN and really manages collaboration properly

Regards,

Ady
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
DirectAccess is a great solution, but has a few caveats.

1) It requires a second server, so yes a premium add-on purchase could accomodate this role.

2) It requires two adjacent IPv4 public IPs. Some ISPs are stingy and won't give you two at a reasonable price. Getting two that are adjacent is even more tricky.

3) Requires Windows 7 Enterprise or Ultimate on the client side. For company issued laptops, this is no problem. For home users though, they likely only have Win7 Home Premium (if they have win7 at all) and will balk at the cost difference for Ultimate.

You cannot lock files with RWA, but you can't with direct file-share access either. If you really need that level of control, moving from file shares to SharePoint would be a better idea (still web accessible, but provides a check-out/check-in feature if you so choose.

-Cliff
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ilyawizardAuthor Commented:
We do have 5 adjacent static IPs, that's not a problem, but I'll need to get more budget for premium add-on and ultimate licenses (we only have 20 professional licenses), so I might come back to that solution later. Right now I'll stick to RWA and do some more research on Sharepoint. Thanks a lot.
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