Sharing Data Remotely

I have a non-profit organization who has very limited funds.
They have three brand-new Dell laptops all running Windows 8.1 basic or home edition. (I can't recall this time).

Most of what they do will be sharing Word documents. One person may create a document. The other two users may need to open the same document and make changes to it.

Someone had set up a Windows 8.1 PC and set up home group sharing. I myself am not a fan of home group especially on a network. This particular person set up SFTP.  He was not able to make it work. He attempted to open ports on the router with no success. And then he left these folks stranded and walked away from the project

first of all I would never use a Windows 8.1 PC acting as server. If money was no object, I would not be posting this.

I want to keep it very simple
- I thought about DropBox sharing but that has its issues as well
- want to keep this as simple as possible where the three users don't have to go through hoops to access the data
- as a quick temporary solution, I gave them an XP Pro PC. (Yes I know it is no longer supported) and tighten down security best as possible. This PC will not be used as a workstation to go onto the Internet. I then set up the needed folder structure. Then provided LogMeIn Pro to the server from their laptops remotely. This will allow them to open a file on the server, make changes, print wherever they want including home and then close it. LogMeIn Pro is not pretty and the resolution is not great. But it was a quick temporary fix for now.

- I thought about using a network NAS drive (Personal Cloud Storage with Raid1) that has two mirrored internal drives and use its built-in security to allow access remotely. But then my problem is how do I back up this drive.
- Not sure how well this will work. Basically in this scenario they would probably have to grab the file bring it locally work on it and then upload it again.

I'm sure there has to be other simple solutions.

I appreciate any recommendations and suggestions
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Andreas GieryicComputer Networking, OwnerAsked:
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PerarduaadastraCommented:
I'm not keen on the Homegroup approach either; I've found that it usually causes more problems than it solves.

The NAS approach has a lot to recommend it, as the data on such a device could be accessed via a VPN or FTP mapped to drive letter on the Dell laptops, without the need for third-party utilities such as LogMeIn.

I've used products from Synology with great success; an example of one of their products that might fit your requirements can be found here:

https://www.synology.com/en-uk/products/overview/DS214

Among its various features it has two USB 3.0 ports at the back to which backup drives can be connected, thus enabling backup of the data stored on the unit.
However, be aware that these Synology devices have power saving enabled by default, which can delay initial access for 20 seconds or so while they wake up. However, it's all configurable and power saving can be scheduled for times outside normal access hours, for example out of work hours.

By the way, I'm in no way connected to Synology other than as a satisfied owner/user.
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Sandeep GuptaConsultantCommented:
if you guys are on same location and using same IP subnet then I would suggest to make it simple..create a shared folder in your lan and enable sharing...now access this folder with IP from any laptop ..you can use this folder to edit\create any document.
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PerarduaadastraCommented:
@Sandeep Gupta:

I understood from the question that remote access was required...

However, if required a NAS device would work equally well on a LAN. As a replacement for the XP box, a NAS device would eliminate the security and support issues attendant on Windows XP, and be cheaper to buy and run than a desktop computer.
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Sandeep GuptaConsultantCommented:
sorry I missed it..

in this case ..use the sharepoint.
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PerarduaadastraCommented:
@Sandeep Gupta:

How can the asker use Sharepoint without a Windows domain?
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Sandeep GuptaConsultantCommented:
he is using windows 8.1..and r u solving requestors question or solving mine???
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PerarduaadastraCommented:
@Sandeep Gupta:

I'm sorry if I've trodden on your toes.

The asker has indicated that he wants a simple solution that doesn't involve Windows 8.1 acting as a server. As I understand the matter (please correct me if I'm wrong) Sharepoint needs to be set up in a Hyper-V VM running on a Windows 8.1 platform, so it isn't as simple as setting up a NAS, and furthermore it depends on the use of Windows 8.1 in a configuration that's been ruled out.
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Garry MastersCommented:
You did not say what your issue with DropBox was-  There are other Vendors of this type service that have different features (issues) and without a whole move into a Server w Domain and Shared Folders, etc-  this "approach' is probably best. Even with a Domain/Shared folders we use some of these as Cloud access and storage is easier than VPN for remote access.  Shared folder/access is one thing- pay attention to 'versioning' and naming convention while using them.

Dropbox
Box
Cubby
Google Drive
Microsoft OneDrive  or (Office 365 SharePoint for more structure/feature)
ZoHo  (Definitely check this out)
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magarityCommented:
A wifi router that has a vpn support and a usb port where you can plug in a disk or even just a high capacity thumb drive for networked storage could also work well.  It would use a lot less power than running a whole PC just to share the file(s).  Something like this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833704038
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Andreas GieryicComputer Networking, OwnerAuthor Commented:
I mostly support companies on a larger scale. I have SharePoint set up on SBS 2008 server supporting domain clients. This is a more complex set up and not the  direction I want to go with these three users. The three users will be working in an office on the same LAN wirelessly from their laptops and also remotely outside the office.

I like the NAS idea. I like the idea attaching an external USB drive for backups. I assume since that this device is on the LAN, there should be no additional set up accessing the data locally and remotely. I still want to be able to use mapped drives

I personally use DropBox, it's a quick and dirty easy way of grabbing a file and uploading a file. However I want the solution to be much simpler and feel more like a map drive feel and less steps grabbing the data
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magarityCommented:
I don't have that particular model I linked but I have a fancier Asus that does the same VPN and shared drive thing and it lets me mount it as a drive letter. Works well.  I found that one by sorting lowest price first since you mentioned the nonprofit doesn't have much budget.
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Andreas GieryicComputer Networking, OwnerAuthor Commented:
Perarduaadastra,

the client and I like the NAS idea as recently mentioned.
One concern: I know the drives use a "Linux-based" OS. I know these devices don't act like a true server but the client wants to have one folder created that only one person can have access to. Is there a way to set this type of permission on the NAS interface?
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PerarduaadastraCommented:
On the Synology, this can be done using the Local User applet in the Control Panel. I can't comment on other NAS drives, as the Synology units haven't given me cause to experiment with other vendors' products.

As the setup you outlined in your question doesn't involve a Windows domain, just ignore that option and set up a local user the way you want. I attach a screenshot of the Synology way of doing things, although obviously it's a static image so you can't interact with it.
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PerarduaadastraCommented:
Sorry, forgot to upload the file...
Synology-user-screen.pdf
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