File Sharing Software

File sharing is the practice of distributing or providing access to digital media, such as computer programs, multimedia (audio, images and video), documents or electronic books. Common methods of storage, transmission and dispersion include manual sharing utilizing removable media, centralized servers on computer networks, World Wide Web-based hyperlinked documents, distributed peer-to-peer networking (P2P) and cloud-based file syncing.

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During and after that shift to cloud, one area that still poses a struggle for many organizations is what to do with their department file shares.
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Many of the companies I’ve worked with have embraced cloud solutions due to their desire to “get out of the datacenter business.” The ability to achieve better security and availability, and the speed with which they are able to deploy, is far greater than traditional on-prem options.


During and after that shift to cloud, though, one area that still poses a struggle for many organizations is what to do with their department file shares.  I’m sure you’re thinking “there are all kinds of solutions,” and most of them are far better than a traditional network share.  I’d agree with you; however, many organizations have a workforce that is accustomed to this old process.  While solutions like SharePoint, One Drive for Business, and Dropbox are nice and have additional features, most organizations still prefer the Windows file share.  


One solution that holds promise is Microsoft’s Azure File Services.  The offering was originally intended to enable companies to move applications that interacted with file shares to Azure, and it was only accessible from Virtual Machines within the same Azure data center when it was first released.  But last year Microsoft released an update that leverages SMB 3.0 and enables users to securely connect to the shares from any location.


There are some limitations if you’re looking to deploy Azure File Services within your organization.  The biggest that I found was that not all internet service providers (ISPs), such as Comcast and Charter Spectrum, will allow port 45 access across their networks.  (Here is a list of known ISPs that do and don’t block this.)


The other major limitation at this time is while you can assign Azure AD permissions to the share, when a user connects, they have to authenticate with the Azure Storage Account and key. This requirement means that everyone is authenticating with the same account.  Microsoft is aware this is a short-coming and is supposed to be addressing it in the future with an update to the service.


These two limitations aside, I see the service being useful for organizations that need to archive data and only allow access from a limited number of individuals or systems.  As Azure storage is a low-cost retention solution, the data at rest can easily be encrypted with Azure encryption services.

If you’d like to try Azure File Services for yourself, follow these steps:

Go to the Azure management portal and log in with your account.


Make sure when naming the resource to use all lower case letters (this is a Microsoft Configuration requirement).  For Account Kind, make sure to select “General Purpose.” For our demo we’ll be using Standard performance disks and Geo-redundant Storage.  We’ve also enabled Encryption to show you how easy this function is.


Once the storage account has been created, browse to it and under File Service click Files. You see a sub screen and the Create File Share Button: click it, give your file share a name, specify how large you’d like it to be, and click Create.


Congratulations – you’ve just created your first Azure File Share.  But wait! You’re asking, “How do I connect to this file share?”


If you click on Connect it will give you the command syntax to connect from either a Windows or a Linux machine.  Remember, your ISP may be blocking port 445.  However once you do connect you can upload files and interact like a normal file share. 


Look for future updates from Microsoft on this feature to add additional security and the ability to assign individualized permissions based on Azure AD accounts.

Alternatively, if you are considering Azure for your organization but need additional expertise for deployment and management services, learn more about public cloud management services like those from Concerto Cloud. 

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Online collaboration is quickly becoming embedded in the workplace, and its benefits are tangible. See what the current landscape looks like and what the future holds for collaboration tools and the future of work.
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Cloud file services can fill many different roles for your business. Often, the use of cloud file services begins with employees using consumer products, like Dropbox, to share files with customers and each other. While sync-and-share can be an effective way to manage files, you should always rely on the business editions to ensure that the business is in possession of, and is managing, your data.
 
That said, this use of sync-and-share tends to be transient in nature. At the other end of the spectrum, many businesses are replacing on-premise servers, NAS, and SANs with cloud file services, which become the primary file service.

To help you plan how to create the best file service for your business, consider these working definitions and considerations with respect to data protection and management.
  

Transient File Service


  • Transient file services are used occasionally for storage and sharing of files.
  • Often a sync-and-share service (Dropbox, box.net, etc) or a peer-to-peer service (Drive, etc.), files are copied to the file service and shared.
  • In most cases, files sync back, or are manually copied, to their primary location. As the primary location for files is protected by backups and permissions management, transient file service generally don't need or have backup protection.
  • Permissions management is often the responsibility of the individual users. As such, transient file services should not be used for sensitive or protected (PHI, PCI, etc) information.

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Author Comment

by:Allen Falcon
Comment Utility
Would you like me to remove/define the acronyms?  I don't think it will hurt the flow of the article.
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With the withdrawal of support for Windows Server 2003 this summer, many clients face the issue of moving away from their 2003 installs. There are a few options out there that many people/companies are selling. But the clients I have, haven't wanted to spend a lot or tip their toes into newer tech (such as Azure). So based on those projects here is my step by step guide to take a Windows Server 2003 File Share server, backup the data using Robocopy, rebuild the same physical server with Windows Server 2008 R2 and again using Robocopy, more the data and more importantly the file permissions back.
 

What you will need


  1. Somewhere to store the files that need to be migrated. The last few times I have run a project like this I used a 6TB External WD Drive
  2. Licenses. The client needs to have the correct Windows Server licenses in place
  3. Hardware that the client is happy to run the 2008 R2 servers on. The last few times I did this, the hardware was new enough that I was able to re-use the same hardware
  4. Robocopy - The beauty of Robocopy is that you can copy the existing file shares from the server and preserve the file permissions. You can run it multiple times and each time Robocopy will copy the files it missed the last time (great if running the task in hours)
 

Recommendations

I would highly recommend planning, even the smallest of migrations. You need to consider:

  1. Hardware
  2. Software
  3. Licenses
  4. RAID Configurations
  5. How the logical drives should be made up
 

Short task list:


  1. Plan
  2. Plan
  3. PLAN
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Over the past decade, as Internet security has become a chief concern of IT professionals, one of the most common questions administrators and users ask is, “Which is more secure, SFTP or FTPS?”

In short, both file transfer protocols offer a high level of security and both are suitable for meeting the requirements imposed on most organizations by internal policies and state and federal regulations, including the Health Insurance Portability And Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), etc.

For those looking for a deeper understanding of the differences between these two file transfer protocols, this article reviews what we mean by “security” and then examines how these protocols work and what mechanisms they use to ensure the security of a transmission.

When evaluating the security of a particular method of moving data between systems, most users are concerned with meeting three conditions:

   1. Confidentiality – Ensuring that nobody but the intended recipient can see the data being sent.
   2. Integrity – Ensuring that the data cannot be modified by an unauthorized party before reaching the intended recipient.
   3. Authenticity – Ensuring that both the sender and recipient are who they say they are.

Now that we know what kind of security we need, we can next examine how the FTPS and SFTP protocols work and how they achieve these security goals.

FTPS is a combination of two technologies: FTP and SSL. …
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Administrative Comment

by:MHenry
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eksatx,

I'll be helping you to get this article published. I'll be reviewing it shortly and hope to be back to you withing 24 hours.

Thanks,
MHenry
PE

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File Sharing Software

File sharing is the practice of distributing or providing access to digital media, such as computer programs, multimedia (audio, images and video), documents or electronic books. Common methods of storage, transmission and dispersion include manual sharing utilizing removable media, centralized servers on computer networks, World Wide Web-based hyperlinked documents, distributed peer-to-peer networking (P2P) and cloud-based file syncing.