Remote file access.  The proper way?

Posted on 2011-10-13
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I am trying to figure out the best and most popular way for office computers to access shared files remotely?  I have a small office (10 users) that are on a Windows domain and use shared files within the LAN.  The issue is that these users are offsite at least 30% of the time and really need constant access to the shared files while out of the office.  I have looked at cloud solutions, drop box, etc, but the #1 requirement is file-locking.  If a remote user starts editing a shared Excel file, a local user needs to be informed that the file is in-user and can only be read only until it is released.  This is the same behaviour users get when sharing files on a LAN.  VPN is too complex for this particular office, so what else can be used to solve this?  We looked using an NAS with cloud features, but it just did not seem to have file-locking either.
Question by:murryc
    LVL 10

    Accepted Solution

    If you have a windows S?BS, you could always start using SharePoint for that purpose.  windows SBS 2011 has a feature where users can work on files from files shares form a web interface as well as SharePoint.  SharePoint will provide the "file locking"feature you are looking for.  if you do have a SMall business server, sharepoint should already be installed.
    LVL 8

    Assisted Solution

    We went through this for our church a couple of years ago.  We found SharePoint to be a good solution, but some would say it does have a couple of drawbacks.   One being the overhead of someone having to set it up and manage it.  (This being in addition to basic installation.)  The other was the per-seat licensing cost.  It's been a couple of yrs since I looked into it so I am not sure of the implications of SBS 2011 vis-a-vis licensing in other ways.

    Aside from SBS, if your main concern about SharePoint is that you do not want to manage it on a day-to-day basis, you can find plenty of sharepoint hosting companies, and there are lots of consultants who can get the basic sharepoint site set up for you.  

    On the other hand, if costs are a major issue, there are free, open source products that you can host on your own equipment.  One example is OpenDocMan ( which has a document checkout feature and version control that would address your concern of over-writting documents that are in use.  

    Or you could go with a lower-cost commerical product hosted elsewhere. E.g, HyperOffice( which advertises itself as a hosted, lower-cost sharepoint alternative.  It too has file locking and version control.

    If you are looking for someone to do some consulting for you to help identify the right product/solution for your team, just give me a shout.


    Author Comment

    Are there any NAS devices that include remote file share with file locking?  That would provide a local fast file share, plus a remote acess option that is turnkey and low maintenance.
    LVL 8

    Expert Comment

    It wasn't an option for us, so I didn't do any research in that area.  

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