Simple low cost VPN between 3 people's homes for Win 7 workgroup

Someone I'd barely call a client because I haven't heard from them in at least months, called saying the 3 people in the office on a win 7 workgroup are moving out of the office to each person's homes a few miles apart. He's asking will they still be able to get to the 4th computer, a Win 7 Pro box, that they are using as a server in the office? This 4th computer would be at the boss' home along with his Win 7 machine.  

For the other 2 people, how would you recreate the LAN? Their network traffic to the server is minimal - 1 or 2 page word docs, simple spreadsheets and similar. All three homes have broadband internet connections with dynamic IP using the ISP provided router.  At this point, they expect this split up of workers to last maybe 1 to 2 years.

Could anyone recommend a solution short of a terminal server, new firewalls at each home and the related costs?

Comodo Unite? LogMeIn Hamachi? Some other product or service?
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Dan CraciunIT ConsultantCommented:
You don't need firewalls at each home. Just setup a VPN server in the boss's home (L2TP/IPSEC) and the rest can connect using the built-in Windows VPN client.

I recently setup a VPN server on a Linux box running Debian, using Strongwan for IPSEC and xl2tpd for L2TP. You can use certificates or passwords to connect to the server.
xl2tpd allows you to assign a fixed IP for each user, so you don't need a DHCP server.

In all, you're looking at about 2-4 hours of work if your boss has a spare computer where you can install the VPN server.

If you can live with the fact that ppptp is broken, you can reduce the time to under 1 hour if the router at home has a built-in VPN server. Most routers over $150 have that.

PS: regardless of the solution you implement, make sure you show the clients how to setup split tunnels, or they are going to route all their internet traffic through the bosses internet.


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Bill BachPresident and Btrieve GuruCommented:
Is a VPN really necessary? I would think that some cloud service for document sharing would be a lot easier, such as Google or Microsoft,and it would probably be a lot cheaper, too.
Dan CraciunIT ConsultantCommented:
Yes, cloud would be easier, but a VPN will maintain a semblance of "office work". Such as printing directly to the bosses printer, or accessing a share just like they did before.

Plus, when one worker quits, you simply delete the user from the VPN server.
When using a cloud server from Microsoft or Google you need to revoke all its rights if the account is made using a personal address. Which can be easy or not...
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BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
yeah, someone else mentioned cloud services. are any better / worse for acting / looking like a share / showing up as a drive letter and / or in windows explorer?

I'm thinking dropbox copies the files locally and if someone leaves, they have all the data.  but thye could copy the share anyway : )

Is there a distinction in the terminology / name for the concepts between something like dropbox where the files are on each machine and in the cloud and stay in sync, vs. something like what I think onedrive or google drive are like where the only copy is in the cloud?
Dan CraciunIT ConsultantCommented:
I don't use onedrive but I think both onedrive and google drive copy the files locally too, just like dropbox.
Aaron TomoskyDirector of Solutions ConsultingCommented:
If you really want a Vpn, put a small sonicwall tz series at the boss's house and use built in windows Vpn or the sonicwall program to Vpn. Don't do site to site lan bridges

However I completely agree that a cloud file share is the better way to do this. Many services have business offerings with centralized user management:ms Onedrive, google, Citrix sharefile
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