Remote User sync data to server

Looking for a remote User file sync solution. We have satellite users that work from other states. Some from home offices. We want to centralize all user data. What can we implement to sync folders on their windows pcs to a central server? Ideally a secured connection that does not require a VPN connection.
David BarmanAsked:
Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
A good solution for this would be Microsoft Onedrive for Business.

https://support.office.com/en-us/article/what-is-onedrive-for-business-187f90af-056f-47c0-9656-cc0ddca7fdc2

Documents are available in Onedrive (cloud solution) and can be sync'd back to the local server for use there.
0
David BarmanAuthor Commented:
I'm not a huge fan of having the data in the cloud. I would prefer a private sync solution. If that is not an option, will the onedrive for business keep each users data separate? Or is it all in one bucket? If it is separate would we be able to sync all users data to our corporate file server?
0
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You can have folders in Onedrive to keep files separate by user.

On the issue, sync without a cloud solution to a local server without VPN would be insecure and not recommended.

With VPN a person could use a file on the server (a bit slower) or use a file locally and sync back to a daily schedule. I use Sync Back Pro for this (2brightsparks.com)
0
Determine the Perfect Price for Your IT Services

Do you wonder if your IT business is truly profitable or if you should raise your prices? Learn how to calculate your overhead burden with our free interactive tool and use it to determine the right price for your IT services. Download your free eBook now!

David BarmanAuthor Commented:
As far as the Onedrive folder for each user, can we restrict so users can't see each other's data?
0
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You can set permissions by user account.
0
David BarmanAuthor Commented:
So it sounds like you can multiple user accounts under the same storage??
0
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
As far as I know, you can do just that. Remember we are talking about Onedrive for Business.
0
David BarmanAuthor Commented:
Do you know of any https sync solution that wouldn't require a vpn?
0
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
No. Syncing your own structure requires VPN for security.

Dropbox for Business and Onedrive for Business are cloud approaches
0
arnoldCommented:
The other option, is to avoid having data on user systems, which means they have to remote into a system on your side, RDS/TERMINAL server. With newer version, you can publish applications to the user RDP with a specific set restriction/tools/apps to which the user will have access.

John's suggestion is valid, the user will add the office365 to their side and it will still depend on the users whether they save the documents in the onedrive for business which is sync into the cloud or they store it in documents that will not.
The user will control this.

It sounds as though your issue is to avoid leaving users with options on where work related files should be.

Look at workfolders with windows server 2012R2
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/storage/work-folders/plan-work-folders
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-server/storage/work-folders/deploy-work-folders
0
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
There is no perfect solution here.

1. Cloud document services require setup (not trivial) and the cost for cloud storage and local storage. Still a good solution.

2. Standard server, local documents and a syncing tool (Sync Back Pro) that users would run to a schedule. Needs a VPN connection for security. This is what most of our clients use. Works offline if no connection.

3. Use SharePoint. This is a Microsoft Document service and we have one client using this. It is a specialized cloud service.

4. Terminal Server access as Arnold has suggested. User needs to be connect to use it.
0
David BarmanAuthor Commented:
I want users to be able to work when they don't have an internet connection.  ie. if they are traveling, etc.
0
AlanConsultantCommented:
Hi David,

In that case, you will need to go with local copies of the files / folders (so that they are available offline), and use a synchronisation utility when they have a connection available.

For security, you will want to ensure that the communications back to 'base' are encrypted, which means either a VPN tunnel, or using a TLS connection (similar to HTTPS that you are using in your browser for many sites now).

For example, and this is only one example, something like SyncThing can do this:

https://syncthing.net/

If you are going with that approach, something that works cross platform (as above) might also be an advantage, depending on your setup.

Alan.
0
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I want users to be able to work when they don't have an internet connection

Of the range of solutions above, Sync Back Pro (or like product) is a good way to go. With Sync Back Pro, the files on each end are real physical files (and therefore fast to access). Sync Back Pro just synchronizes the files
0
David BarmanAuthor Commented:
With Sync Back is there a way for me to monitor remotely to confirm that files are syncing without errors?
0
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You can send status messages to the syslog server and pick up results there.
1
AlanConsultantCommented:
Hi David,

If you want to be certain that a sync worked, the gold standard is to do a two-way hash of each end, and then verify each one against the other end.  You can rely on in-application notifications, or reports, or logs files, but nothing beats a comprehensive hashing :-)


Alan.
0
David BarmanAuthor Commented:
How would this hash be implemented?
0
AlanConsultantCommented:
Hi,

You can use any hashing utility you like - you just point it at each end, and tell it to hash all the files, recursively into sub-directories (if applicable), and it will generate a file of the hashes.

You then take that file, and ask it to do the same thing on the other other, comparing the hashes, or alternatively generate another file of hashes from the other end, and then compare the two files generated.

If the files match, it is almost impossible for the files not to be bitwise identical (it would be mathematically infeasible for them to match coincidentally).

Given you are using Windows (from your tags), you might use Microsoft's File Checksum Integrity Verifier utility:

https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/841290/availability-and-description-of-the-file-checksum-integrity-verifier-u

However, there are lots out there.

If you were running this on Linux, you could use the standard rsync and include the --checksum option to hash and verify the sync as you go (slows down the actual sync, but gets it all done in one go if time is not a major concern).

There are also a load of Graphical Utilities out there.  Personally, I like the precision and control of doing it from the command line, but there are a lot of people that are not comfortable there, so whatever works for you.

Hope that helps,

Alan.
0
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Windows OS

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.