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How Much Speed for a VPN?

This is a sequel to the question/situation I asked about several weeks ago under the title. "Cannot map remote share via Sonicwall SSLVPN". That problem was solved by the use of static IP's at both ends of the VPN and the use of the proper domain name in the VPN login.  
But now we have issues with efficiency of the connection(speed and reliability of file operations across the VPN).
    To recap, the store runs a win2k3 server as a pdc with several workstations at the store location. The gateway is a Sonicwall TZ210 The WAN is fixed IP on a DSL connection. The other location (the shop) has two workstations using NetExtender VPN client, also through a fixed IP DSL connection. The work all the workstations do is manipulation of Excel spreadsheets, Word docs, and Quickbooks files, all stored on the server.
    Now we have beeen told that even a cable DSL would not be fast enough to properly open and close the files without corrupting them, especially if more than one person is working on them at the same time. Instead it has been recommended to use RDC or GotoMyPC to an extra workstation. Is this all true, is the only way to get functionality through RDC and if so, what's the point of a VPN? If there is a speed that will make this setup feasible, what kind of service and speed would be necessary, short of FIOS?
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PCGenieLA
Asked:
PCGenieLA
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1 Solution
 
carlmdCommented:
Actually if FIOS is available in you area it is typically cheaper than a DSL circuit, and ten or more times faster. We reduced our cost from $300 or more per month with DSL to under $100 a month with FIOS, and got a ten fold speed improvement. In the more than a year we have had FIOS we have not had a single problem. (no I am not a sales person for FIOS)

With that said, what is the speed of your DSL circuits?
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RobMobilityCommented:
Hi,

Remote Desktop is not the same as a VPN - in Windows 2008/2008 R2 a TS Gateway component is available which provides much of the functionality of a VPN by encaspulating the RDP traffic in HTTPS but it's not a true VPN.

You can look at a much cheaper Remote Desktop alternative - TSPlus (http://www.tsplus.net/products.php) - you can even run this on an XP or Windows 7 desktop and provice remote desktop or remote app access for more than 1 user concurrently.

Regards,


RobMobility.
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RobMobilityCommented:
Hi,

Another alternative would be to use something like AirDocs (http://www.airdocs.com/default.aspx)

Regards,


RobMobility.
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PCGenieLAAuthor Commented:
The areas where the clients locatons are, are served by AT&T, and no, they do not have FIOS. The only available alternatie is Time Warner Cable. The speed that is available from AT&T is 2mbps down and 512kbps up. So, given those choices, what minimum speed should I look for? We've already spent considerable money on makng the VPN work and I'd like to stick with it, if possible.
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RobMobilityCommented:
Hi,

The VPN is merely providing a secure connection into your environment - file access is usually designed for 10 Mbps, 100 Mbps or 1000 Mbps connections, not 2 Mbps with potential issues which could result in disconnections.

The TSPlus route would enable you to deploy remote applications (i.e you are not running a complete desktop, just the application [Excel] to the desktops of the users at your remote site) - they would double click on the icon, authenticate and would be running what appears to be local excel. What they are acually running is a remote excel application on the same LAN as the files - i.e. no errors and potential corruption.

A 3 user licence for TSPlus is $75.00 - far less than corrupted files, the effort resolve that and considerably less than Microsoft RD running on Windows 2008 R2. There is no licencing server for applications either.

Regards,


RobMobility.
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carlmdCommented:
By comparison 512KB verses a LAN connection is crawling, and probably why you are having an issue. TIme Warner offers a DIA service that has 5MB up and down, which should be adequate to solve your problem. There is also a wideband service that offers 50MB x 5MB. Don't know the costs but you could explore these options. We use cable services at serveral sites and they prove to be faster than a T1.
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PCGenieLAAuthor Commented:
So, thismeans that I would have to spend $ to add additonal workstations at the server site( the store), one each for the two shop users and for the TSPlus? This sound like the GoToMyPC setup that they were using.  Is 10mbps the minimum I should be looking for?
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carlmdCommented:
If you want to use the shares, I would go for the fastest speed you can reasonably afford. Your other choice is to have the excel and word documents donwloaded to the local pc and then modified there. Quickbooks is another issue, since you can't do that. It seems your best option is to up the line speed, and then continue to use the VPN connection.

As a test, if you have someone work with a two line spreadsheet, or a short one page word document, does the problem occur? Who/how did you diagnose the file corruption and attribute it to line speed?

Altenately you could use the RDC over the VPN, and that should work for you. But, only one person at a time will be able to connect to the server this way to use the desktop. Since you only have two remote pc's, with a little coordination this might work for you.
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PCGenieLAAuthor Commented:
O just looked up Time Warner and the fastest they have in Los Angeles is 10x2 mbps. Will this cut it??
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RobMobilityCommented:
Hi,

How big are the Excel files? The bigger the file, the more of an issue it is. In addition, a broken connection could not only corrupt the file but also lock it so that no one else can access it.

Accessing any file over a low speed connection is likely to cause issues - usually files are accessed over a LAN operating at 100 Mbs (10 Mbs was the older networking speed and no really seen anywhere these days although might be observed on a WLAN connection - i.e. actual rather than theoretical throughput).

You'd only need to install TSPlus on one machine - I suggest a workstation as you shouldn't really run a Remote Desktop solution on a Domain Controller (aside from remote management). TSPlus would allow more than 1 user to access the workstation at a time (i.e. your 2 users would be work fine if it's suitably spec'd).

TSPLus is much cheaper than GotoMyPC (2 machines is something like $269.00 per year) vs $75.00 for TSPLus.

Both solutions would require a host PC to run on - with GotoMy PC, 2 PCs would need to be accessed I believe so you'd have to factor in 2 additional workstations at your site.

Have a look at this site for TSPLus demos:

http://184.73.198.100/portal.html

Regards,


RobMobility.

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RobMobilityCommented:
Hi,

If this is a domestic service, be aware of the following:

1. Usually bandwidth is heavily contended
2. Not all services support VPNs - that's a business service not domestic
3. Pcket Shaping - increaingly, this is being done and HTTP traffic is prioritised - this would impact your VPN
4. Supplier may see you using a VPN and degrade or terminate your service - after all, it's a domestic service?
5. No SLA - i.e. should your link go down, you're stuck and you have to wait for them to fix it. Business services usually have contracted response and fix times.

Regards,


RobMobility.
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PCGenieLAAuthor Commented:
No, the present service they use is a business service and they have been using GoToMyPC for one user. The excel files are not that big, but the Quickbooks files are big. So is 10mbps down and 2mbps up on the Time Warner business service going to be adequate?

Do I correctly understand then, that the TSPlus would require only one extra PC at the store to be accessed by the two users from the shop simultaneusly if needed?

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RobMobilityCommented:
Hi,

That is correct - 1 PC (check this document for suggested specs - http://tsplus.net/TSplusUserGuide.pdf) would allow you to support simultaneous access from your 2 remote users.

They offer a 15 day trial download - give it a try?

Regards,


RobMobility.
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PCGenieLAAuthor Commented:
Tried TSPlus on the store workstation as a server . In order to access it from the outside while sitting in front of the server, I used Wyse PocketCloud as a client on my iPad2. But, alas, no joy. Wyse spins for a while and then says it cannot connect to server. I tried to add firewall and NAT rules to the Sonicwall, but that made no difference. It seems you cannot specify actual port numbers in port forwarding for the Sonicwall, only services.Maybe I'm missing something. Any ideas, anyone?
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RobMobilityCommented:
Hi,

Can you forward Remote Desktop services?

Regards,

RobMobiity
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PCGenieLAAuthor Commented:
Yes, there are several rules already in the Sonicwall. The clients have been using GotoMYPC sucessfully, and I tried using those rules by turning off GoToMyPC and assigniing the TSPlus server to those ports, but that does not work. They have a rule to RDC to their server, which I can do from outside, but when I tried it with Wyse PocketCloud, that didn't work either. The error msg is always the same,"couldnot connect to server"/ Is there any way to monitor the connecton process?
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PCGenieLAAuthor Commented:
Ok, Finally got it working, firewall rules and all. But I have a question. It seems that the program can support more than one simultaneous connection, but the connections are all to the same session. This presents a potential for conflicting commands and battling keyboards. Is there a way to have multiple connections to same workstation/TSPlusServer and have each connection logged into a different session or user?

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RobMobilityCommented:
Hi,

Just set it up quickly and if I log in with 2 different accounts, I am running 2 different instances - i.e. I see a different session.

Regards,

RobMobility.
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RobMobilityCommented:
Hi,

I have enabled the allow 1 open session per user option.

Regards,


RobMobility.
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PCGenieLAAuthor Commented:
Well, all is now well. TSPlus worked very well, even with DSL connections on both ends. hanks RobMobility. BTW, the license fee for 2-5 users is $129, not $75. But it still cheaper than GoToMyPC.
Thanks for al your help
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RobMobilityCommented:
Hi,

Thanks for the update.

My reason for quoting $75.00 was that was what was stated for a 3 user licence on the 'store' page:

   3 user license:   $75 (around 50€)  

Regards,


RobMobility.
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