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Share Local (LAN) Shared Folder to Cloud (Remote Users)

I have a folder located on my LAN file server that I would like to share with 2 - 3 outside sales people.  I was looking at a cloud file share option but have not really found one that will work.  The ones that I found are for an enterprise setup (very expensive to 2-3 users).

I would like this to be configured such that when a local (LAN) user, adds or edits a file in the shared LAN folder, that this new or changed file can be seen by my outside sales team.  In turn, I would like the option for the sales team to make changes up upload files to the shared folder to be seen by my LAN users.

The share folder size is in the area of 100GB.  I only need 2-3 remote users to access the information.  

I have looked at efolder (by Anchor), egnyte, dropbox, owncloud, and they are either setup for enterprise users (25+ users) or they are a manual share location app.

The best option I found was owncloud, but they are setup for several dozen remote users.

I'm I looking at this correctly?
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shrimpfork
Asked:
shrimpfork
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1 Solution
 
J NUnicorn wranglerCommented:
Hi,

can you be more specific on the usage of the space? is it just to share / backup / ..?
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J NUnicorn wranglerCommented:
With that being said, if you can find a service out there then you can likely make it yourself however it will just take time. additionally, some security features can be comprimised
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Frosty555Commented:
A few questions to help narrow down your options:

1) What kind of files? Smallish <1MB files like excel / word / PDF files? Medium size <5MB files like photos and small powerpoint presentations? Or large files like videos and other proprietary file formats?

2) What kind of Internet speeds and bandwidth do you have in the office, and what do you expect your sales people to have access to when they are remote? Upload and download speeds

3) Do you care about security - e.g. what happens when one person maliciously or accidentally deletes important files? What happens when you fire somebody and need to quickly lock them out without impacting everybody else? What happens when you hire a new guy and only want to give him access to some of  your files? Do you expect these things to be issues you need to address?

4) Are your sales people using laptops, and they take their computer with them when they go offsite? Or do they have a separate, dedicated work desktop PC that stays in the office? Is it in the budget to give them dedicated work desktop PCs that live in the office?

5) How technically savvy are your sales people?

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The question you're asking is more of a "remote access" question, because the problem you're facing can be solved in several different ways. I'll outline the major groups of products, tell me what sounds the most appetizing to you:

Remotely control your work PC (e.g. Remote Desktop access)

Employee has a dedicated PC that lives in the office all of the time that they normally work on. This PC has access to the network drives, software etc. that you use. When they go offsite, they have a travel laptop that they use to remotely connect and control their work PC. They see the screen and remotely move the mouse and type keystrokes on the keyboard over the Internet.

PROS:
    - Exactly the same working environment locally and remotely
    - Computer accesses files on the local LAN, only a "picture" of the screen is sent over the Internet. Low bandwidth requirements
    - Good for proprietary software and large files that cannot easily be shared over low bandwidth Internet connections

CONS:
    - There is latency between every action the remote user performs and when the see the result on the screen.
    - Not good for graphically intensive work (photo editing, autocad, videos etc.)
    - Requires each staff to have a dedicated work PC that lives at the office, and a travel laptop that they take with them offsite

Options include:  LogMeIn, TeamViewer, Microsoft Remote Desktop over a VPN, VNC over a VPN

Direct remote access to fileserver from the Internet

Remote employees tunnel into your company network via a VPN connection, and then directly access your fileserver from their computer via Windows Explorer. All data travels over the Internet, but the remote computer is not aware of that.

PROS:
     - Seamless access, exactly the same as if they were in the office
     - Files are stored in one location only, on your local fileserver
CONS:
     - Highly demanding on the Internet, very slow unless your files are small office documents
     - Requires setup of the VPN connection software on each staff computer

Options include:

     Microsoft Routing and Remote Access (PPTP VPN), Cisco Anyconnect, OpenVPN, LogMeIn Hamachi


Web-based remote access to the files on the Fileserver

Your fileserver also hosts a website that users browse to using their web browser, and they see a list of files. They download individual files to their PC to edit them, and when they are done they upload the files back using a form on the website.

PROS:
    - No software required, usually the user just navigates to a website and logs in
CONS:
   - Requires a high degree of discipline from the users to keep the files organized
    - Not very streamlined, access feels slow and clumsy

Options include:

    OwnCloud, WIndows Essentials Experience, FTP, AjaXplorer,

Cloud-based file storage using a third party provider

A third party provider stores your files on their own servers online on the Internet. Your computers have software installed which downloads a locally cached copy of the files onto your PC, where users can then work on them. The changes are synchronizes with the third party provider's servers as they work. The files do not exist on your network, they exist only "in the cloud" on the third party provider's servers

PROS:
    - Easy to set up, easy to deploy in small environments
    - Reduced strain on your office Internet connection compared to remote access
CONS:
    - Files do not exist on your local network, they exist only on the third party provider's servers, so backups are difficult to perform and privacy can be a concern
    - Local access to the files while in your office requires the same heavy Internet usage as remote users

Options include:

     OneDrive, DropBox, Google Drive, iCloud
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shrimpforkAuthor Commented:
Hey guys, take a look at www.owncloud.com and view their video on the home page.  That is exactly what I'm looking for, but I only need it for only 2-3 users.  Their enterprise starts at $50,000 per year.  Not really good for 2-3 users.  I'm trying to find a similar option, on a smaller scale.

The files are primary PDF files, but are architectural drawings and can get into the 75 MB size for one PDF.
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J NUnicorn wranglerCommented:
HI,

I would setup a NAS at an offsite location. It is essentially the same thing as paying for someone to host it but you are doing it yourself. It is not the BEST situation but you can limit your costs. assuming that the 2-3 individuals are not requesting data and transmitting to the remote NAS constantly it is a cheap alternative
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Frosty555Commented:
You can always look at the free open-source edition of OwnCloud

https://owncloud.org/
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shrimpforkAuthor Commented:
@ Frosty555:  I'm not sure what I would do with the open source option of OwnCloud.  I'll have to look at this.

@ M. Jayme Nagy:  I don't have a remote location to setup a NAS.  There no remote office.  I'm looking for a easily solution, like a mirrored site.
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J NUnicorn wranglerCommented:
just set up an internal NAS. It does the same thing however if you kept it remotely (someones house). you could use it to back up data too
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shrimpforkAuthor Commented:
I'm not looking to setup a NAS.  That's not really what I'm looking at.  I need to sync and share files of a internal folder to remote users in real time with a way to control what the remote users can do with the files.
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J NUnicorn wranglerCommented:
Hi,

I understand however i do not think you should dismiss the option. With a NAS you can control the files however you want, you can restrict access how you want, you can allow users to access it remotely and other features which you mentioned you wanted.

here is a short comparison
http://www.businessbee.com/resources/news/technology-buzz/cloud-vs-network-attached-storage-pros-cons/

if NAS is something you are not at all interested in then my next question is about security and the nature of the documents being stores (ex. In canada, it is frowned upon although allowed to host sensitive data in any other country than canada especially US (patriot act) ). If you need to meet regulatory requirements this can considerable cut down your options.
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J NUnicorn wranglerCommented:
There is also other options such as remote desktop which would allow a remote user to log into their office computer and use it as though they were sitting in front of their machine.

I also believe you can remotely share folder from windows but this would require (just as the NAS) some network configuration
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shrimpforkAuthor Commented:
Ok folks, I've been looking at the open source version of ownCloud.  I can't really run this on my existing server, so I was looking into putting it on small NAS device.  What device would work for this?
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shrimpforkAuthor Commented:
Not just any NAS....one that will run the open source of ownCloud.
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J NUnicorn wranglerCommented:
It all depends on budget. The more you pay the better machine you get and the faster it will run  the software. That being said it may make more sense to setup a new computer to host it. A computer can do everything that a NAS can and more. Once again it is all based on budget and the type of performance you are looking to get question only you have the answers too

FYI
QNAPs actually have their own version - they are more pricey
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shrimpforkAuthor Commented:
Yes I'm probably going to look at a QNAP, but am not going to be using their version but loading ownCloud on it.  I'm currently looking at: http://wiki.qnap.com/wiki/Category:OwnCloud
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J NUnicorn wranglerCommented:
For 100GB you only need a small one. A two bay enclosure would allow you more flexibility and potentially allow you to setup a RAID. that being said the smaller ones offer poorer performance. I would stick to the ones on that list. And find one that fits your budget.

If it was me i would opt for a four bay and spend a little more to get a faster processor
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shrimpforkAuthor Commented:
This is not going to work as planned.  It will only sync a server folder once and not keep it updated as changes to the folder are made.
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Aaron TomoskyTechnology ConsultantCommented:
If you install owncloud on a computer, you can point it at the SMB share directly. However it really likes to be on Linux so you should have someone do the initial setup for you if you don't have that sort of experience.

If you can install (Dropbox, onedrive, google drive, etc...) on your server, that may be the easiest.

For only 3 users you can also setup btsync http://www.bittorrent.com/sync
pretty easily as well, the app is both a client and a server, there is no dedicated server app.
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shrimpforkAuthor Commented:
Looking at the owncloud Client Manual documentation, it states "...note:: A server folder can be synchronized with a particular client once."  I'm not completely understanding why, but my goal is to share a server share, while leaving the files in place locally.  I just need a synchronized copy of everything in the server folder to be accessible form some sort of cloud server.  I could not find any clear documentation with ownCloud where it states that I could share a server folder and have it constantly updated.

Let me ask, you stated that could install ownCloud on "a computer".  Are you suggesting install it on the server itself, or a workstation on the LAN?
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Aaron TomoskyTechnology ConsultantCommented:
I setup owncloud on a centOS virtual machine without any local shares.  Then I added the "external storage support" app and mounted an SMB share from a server on my lan. This looks to the users like I installed owncloud on my smb share server, but it gives me the flexibility to add external storage from all over the place and let my owncloud users see it in one place.
http://doc.owncloud.org/server/6.0/admin_manual/apps/files_external/index.html
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shrimpforkAuthor Commented:
I'm not sure if I follow the SMB share part.  I simply have my workstations mapping shared folders on the server to create drives on the workstations.  The folder that I need to share with my remote users is a subfolder within an existing shared folder.  The SMB share is not the same as a user mapping a drive right?
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Aaron TomoskyTechnology ConsultantCommented:
shared folders on a server in a windows environment ARE a cifs/smb share.
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shrimpforkAuthor Commented:
Ok, I was under the impression that ownCloud would not sync a shared server folder per the manual.
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Aaron TomoskyTechnology ConsultantCommented:
per the manual, it doesn't. Per the addon app, it does.
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shrimpforkAuthor Commented:
I was looking at purchasing a QNAP TS-219 PII and putting ownCloud on that.  Now if I understand correctly, I would then load the "external storage support" app onto the QNAP and create a SMB share and I would not touch or move the existing location of the folder on the LAN.  My LAN users would not even know of anything or change to the shared folder, just my remote users would them have a "copy" to access.  Is this correct?
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Aaron TomoskyTechnology ConsultantCommented:
I've never installed to a qnap. I know they way they want you to use it, is to share whats on the qnap, but the external storage support might work.
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pgm554Commented:
If you have a Windows server of some sorts ,SBS 2003 and above,you have a Sharepoint option which can be configured to present the shares through a browser to those users you wish to have access to them.

It's free and not too difficult to set up.

http://www.slideshare.net/directorcia/getting-started-with-companyweb
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Allen FalconCEO & Pragmatic EvangelistCommented:
Gladinet Cloud Storage has a "server" agent that does this.  

It will sync directories between your server and cloud storage (works with ~24 different services) and provides both a web interface and clients for Win, Mac, Android, and iOS devices.

We've deployed this for a number of our clients.  If you go direct with Gladinet, you pay for the license and storage.  You can BYO storage if you go through a reseller.  Resellers also have lower pricing in many cases.
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Aaron TomoskyTechnology ConsultantCommented:
citrix has "sharefile" which is like dropbox and such, but right now licenses are $39/mo and it comes with gotomeeting, so that might be in your budget.
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shrimpforkAuthor Commented:
@Allen: Bingo!  It sounds very promising.  I'll look into this.
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shrimpforkAuthor Commented:
@Allen:  What do you mean about BYO storage if I go through a reseller?  Can I use the Gladinet service with something like Rackspace Cloud storage?
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pgm554Commented:
Have you just thought about plain old ftp?
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Allen FalconCEO & Pragmatic EvangelistCommented:
@shrimpfork,

Yes.  You can use Gladinet with about 2 dozen different storage services.
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shrimpforkAuthor Commented:
@Allen:  I am running the trial version of Gladinet with a server share.  This look like EXACTLY what I have been looking for.  The capabilities of this thing are amazing.  So far the trial is going great.
(I'm amazed that it is only $9.95 per user per month.  I'm trying to figure out if that will be actual cost.)
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shrimpforkAuthor Commented:
Gladinet.com looks like it is going to work, however I got a issue to work out with my particular setup and how I want to handle my files that I want to share with the outside sales team.  I think I will open another question and post a link here.

Thank you all for your input.  If you have not looked at Gladinet.com yet, you should.  Very cool.
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shrimpforkAuthor Commented:
If you are interested, here is a link to my new question pertaining to this setup.  I need to find out how to make a once directional copy of the sub-folder inside a shared folder on a different server to be used with the Gladinet setup.

http://www.experts-exchange.com/OS/Microsoft_Operating_Systems/Server/2003_Server/Q_28517496.html
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