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infosys3Flag for United States of America

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Secure way to not have users Save Spreadsheet on Windows Server O/S

I think I have a unique situation…we have a massive spreadsheet that is used for litigation purposes.  We want a way to protect this spreadsheet, we want to market under a licensing agreement other law firms and CPAs to use our spreadsheet.   We want them to login to our server and “on-line” use the spreadsheet…but we do NOT want them to be able to save the spreadsheet except on the server….we do NOT want them to copy the spreadsheet to their local PC or their server.   In other words we only want them to “use” the spreadsheet “on-line” and be able to “save” the spreadsheet on our server.

I also want to make the server as secure as possible so that they (the users) don’t ramble around looking at other clients folders, files, etc.  

Is there available software that can handle remote access (other than RDP) and secure the user area and a way to only save the spreadsheet in the users area and not anywhere else.

I hope I am making myself as clear as mud.   Any insight would be most helpful.
Many thanks
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Arno Koster
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In general if you can open a spreadsheet, you can copy it.

There are options with which you can, at least to some extent, secure or limit the excel functionality.

To my opinion you would be served best by making a website in which you show the data and implement only these functions that you want to allow the users to perform.
You can then use the existing spreadsheet as the underlying 'database'. With autorisation and authentication you can provide specific customers with specific data and/or functionality.
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Thanks....have you ever heard of a "published app"...I know back 10 yrs or so Citrix has a published app where by the user would log on and a only be able run the "published app" and not see a Citrix or RDP-type desktop.   Any idea about a modern-day published app???
Not sure how that works on Citrix, but using Windows Terminal Services you indeed can (with the right license) publish an application.

This is just like a remote-desktop connection, only the user will only be able to see the application itself. it will not see the desktop or the windows taskbar buttons and so on.

If you want to publish the worksheet running in excel however, you would have to make sure that _all_ options to hack the worksheet are disabled and stay disabled. This includes disabling menu bars, securing the visual basic macro codes and editor, securing the workbook to indicate which actions the user can or may not perform, securing individual worksheets as well.
This way, you can enable a user to only be able to update certain cells and save the file only to a designated network share.
When you want to prevent some customers from reaching user area's connected to other users, you will have to make macro code to get this working the way you want.

All in all it is not exactly rocket science, but forget to lock one single door and users will make use of the options they should not be having. I guess when you want to market the worksheet you will want to make sure that no misuse will be possible.
When you want to follow this route, it might be best to code a simple dotnet application which  only shows the excel data, supports basic editing, and will only be able to save the file where you want it.
You can then publish this application more or less safely.

Pay attention though that this will involve granting the customer access to your business network in order to be able to reach the application. I strongly suggest that you talk this through with your local network architects and system administrators.
You can very easily cause costs far exceeding the profits that you are planning to make with the sheet.
FYI:  I have a way to compfile the spreadsheet to an .exe --  upon execution it opens Excel just like we want...the biggest benefit is that it "hides" the formulas.  So assuming that I have an .exe spreadsheet I now want to perhaps "publish" it????   We currently have a server just for Terminal Services, but that server is "connected" to our network and I certainly do NOT want uses roaming around our network...  Still searching for a solution.  Your help is very much appreciated.
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Arno Koster
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I still don't have an adequate solution.