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Thread: VPN Questions

  1. #1
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    VPN Questions

    I have been helping out someone who has moved their business into their home. He has a server, Windows Server 2003 and a laptop he uses to work on. He also has a partner who connects into the server right now using REMOTE DESKTOP CONNECTION. He also uses RDC when away with his laptop.

    He wanted to setup VPN and I have a few questions. I have done some VPN before, but only connecting someone to an existing VPN setup and I had instructions to work from.

    1. What will VPN give him in the way of functionality that RDC does not? In other words, does he really need it or would using RDC allow him to do all he needs. Mostly he copies files to/from the server to work on. But he uses Outlook and at least one of the PST's he opens is on the server and he was talking about being able to access that remotely.

    2. If he goes with VPN, what is the easiest way for me to set it up. I think I have to run some program on the server as well as a client piece to go with that on the remote computers. If he goes this way, I don't think he would mind buying a program to do this. The important thing is it needs to be easy to setup and get working.

    3. Also, as I understand it, to use VPN in the server the server needs at least 2 NIC's. Does the VPN need it's own Public Static IP? He currently has a Public Static IP programmed into his router, which we port forward RDC to the server (static private IP).

    Thanks for any help you can provide.

  2. #2
    Moderator YeOldeStonecat's Avatar
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    I prefer to use hardware VPN when VPN is necessary...in other words...have a VPN appliance instead of doing VPN via the servers RRAS service. Many business grade routers will have a VPN server built into them, example...Linksys/Cisco RV0 series..

    Wether to use VPN or remain with RDP is a matter of looking at what he needs to get/do by accessing this network. VPN is slow, so accessing files on the server can be slow, tedious. Example...a PST file....depending on how much e-mail he stores on it...it may take a while to have his Outlook open that PST file. Not to mention Outlook will have a tough time when the VPN isn't open.

    You can install Outlook on this server if it's just Standard server, but if this server has Exchange on it..you won't want to install Outlook..since it uses a different MAPI32.DLL file that will scramble Exchange.

    What else does he need to access on this network? RDP is my preferred method. If just MS Office documents...Sharepoint may be a good method for him to access remotely too.

    Another good option would be to pickup an small form factor desktop with XPp on it...install his software on that, have it sit next to the server..and just have him RDP into that workstation.

    Is Exchange part of this setup at all?
    MORNING WOOD Lumber Company
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  3. #3
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    Thanks, no Exchange is not part of this at all. As I recall, his main PST is on the laptop. But when his Outlook opens, it opens an additional PST which is on the server.

    What is Sharepoint, as I am unfamiliar with that.

    I have the Remote Desktop working for both he and his partner, (got it working again after he let a "friend" mess with his router).

  4. #4
    Moderator YeOldeStonecat's Avatar
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    Is Outlook setup for POP3 e-mail?

    What else does he access the server for? What are all of his goals for remoting into this network and server? Are all of these files that he copies to/from the server just MS Office files? Or other programs, like accounting, or CRM, or...<whatever>?

    Sharepoint is a collaboration portal..sort of. Your own intranet website, that can be used for various collaboration things. Free.
    MORNING WOOD Lumber Company
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  5. #5
    Member Uberwilhelm's Avatar
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    Does the office have a firewall? If it does, most of them come with a VPN gateway built in and all you have to do is set up RAS on the server. After that, he will have all network resources available to him from any internet connection.

  6. #6
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    If you are not comfortable with setting up routers and configuring firewalls, look at using a Hosted VPN Service that provides VPN Client access. This would allow the remote laptops to connect to all services as if they were on the same LAN as the server. They usually charge per month so there is no up-front outlay (ADVERTISING REMOVED BY SG STAFF)

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