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Old 08-07-2008, 08:15 PM
 
Location: Cary, NC
34,313 posts, read 59,641,709 times
Reputation: 33433

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Please bear with me. I'm asking questions I don't even know how to ask...
Looking for advice, or a good intro tutorial link.

I'm thinking I would like to have the same computer environment at home and in the office.
I get tired of lugging the laptop into the office, and would buy a desktop for the cube with a 22"+ display

One feller is talking to me about setting up a VPN to get into my home network from the office. Another feller tells me that VPN is vulnerable and old technology, not worth pursuing.

Office network serves 100+ agents.

I would have to pay for a dsl line, or go through the company router.?
I would like not to have the expense of the outside line, and can probably hire the office IT contractor to make it happen.

Just looking for a little background fill in before I take it to the pro's.
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Old 08-07-2008, 08:30 PM
 
11,715 posts, read 36,341,277 times
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What exactly does "I would like to have the same computer environment at home and in the office" mean? Do you simply need to access your home computer from your office computer? You could use a remote control product like LogMeIn Free (www.logmein.com) to remote control your home PC.

Please don't listen to another word on the subject of computers from whoever said "VPN is vulnerable and old technology, not worth pursuing". A VPN is typically used to connect a remote PC or remote network of PCs to a network at another location by creating a secure connection through the Internet between the two locations. Once the VPN link is established, its the functional equivalent of running a long Ethernet cable between the two locations except you're limited the the Internet connection speed on either end. In your case, you'd install a VPN server at home (lots of options there - could be a simple as a router with that functionality built in) and run a VPN client (Windows has one built in, but there's others) to create a VPN tunnel from the work PC back to the home network.
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Old 08-07-2008, 10:11 PM
 
Location: Cary, NC
34,313 posts, read 59,641,709 times
Reputation: 33433
Quote:
Originally Posted by EscapeCalifornia View Post
What exactly does "I would like to have the same computer environment at home and in the office" mean? Do you simply need to access your home computer from your office computer? You could use a remote control product like LogMeIn Free (www.logmein.com) to remote control your home PC.

Please don't listen to another word on the subject of computers from whoever said "VPN is vulnerable and old technology, not worth pursuing". A VPN is typically used to connect a remote PC or remote network of PCs to a network at another location by creating a secure connection through the Internet between the two locations. Once the VPN link is established, its the functional equivalent of running a long Ethernet cable between the two locations except you're limited the the Internet connection speed on either end. In your case, you'd install a VPN server at home (lots of options there - could be a simple as a router with that functionality built in) and run a VPN client (Windows has one built in, but there's others) to create a VPN tunnel from the work PC back to the home network.
Thanks much for the input.

By "same environment" I mean that when I park myself in a chair, in front of either computer, the machines would be identical, so that moving from home to office would be seamless in terms of hardware and software.

I want to have duplicate PC's and accessories, and share all functions between them, updated simultaneously.

Need a home server for this?
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Old 08-07-2008, 10:26 PM
 
11,715 posts, read 36,341,277 times
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Well I don't know any way of keeping two PCs perfectly cloned across a distance like that but you can probably get close. You could buy two PCs, configure one of them how you like it, and clone its hard disk onto the other machine's disk. You'd then have identical twins at that point. The trick is keeping the data synchronized. You could keep all of your data on a USB hard drive and take that with you between the PCs. That'll take care of the documents pretty easily. Don't forget to back it up though. You could also keep your documents on each computer's hard drive use a usb disk to sync them using a program such as SmartSync Pro. That's more work than just carrying a little USB hard drive like the Western Digital Passport. Get one that's USB powered and doesn't need external power from the wall. For email, you could use a web based service like Gmail so everything is on the server and looks the same no matter where you log on from. Or if you want to use a mail client, use imap instead of pop3 or even better, get a hosted Exchange account. Outlook on each PC can link with the Exchange server and sync up the contacts, calendar, and mail folders.
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Old 08-07-2008, 10:51 PM
 
Location: Cary, NC
34,313 posts, read 59,641,709 times
Reputation: 33433
Quote:
Originally Posted by EscapeCalifornia View Post
Well I don't know any way of keeping two PCs perfectly cloned across a distance like that but you can probably get close. You could buy two PCs, configure one of them how you like it, and clone its hard disk onto the other machine's disk. You'd then have identical twins at that point. The trick is keeping the data synchronized. You could keep all of your data on a USB hard drive and take that with you between the PCs. That'll take care of the documents pretty easily. Don't forget to back it up though. You could also keep your documents on each computer's hard drive use a usb disk to sync them using a program such as SmartSync Pro. That's more work than just carrying a little USB hard drive like the Western Digital Passport. Get one that's USB powered and doesn't need external power from the wall. For email, you could use a web based service like Gmail so everything is on the server and looks the same no matter where you log on from. Or if you want to use a mail client, use imap instead of pop3 or even better, get a hosted Exchange account. Outlook on each PC can link with the Exchange server and sync up the contacts, calendar, and mail folders.
Thanks.
You have me thinking.
Not my strong suit.
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Old 08-08-2008, 10:35 AM
 
11,715 posts, read 36,341,277 times
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Another thought I had last night: Using a laptop and taking it between home and office may be the best solution but you may be implementing it badly. Using a fairly small and light machine and keeping a docking station with power supply on each end can make the task easier. So everything stays plugged into the docking station on either end (printer, network, mouse, monitor) and you just take the laptop with you. Don't settle for one of those "universal USB docking ports". They're not the real deal. You need a laptop that has a proprietary docking connector on the bottom than can pass all the ports, video, and power through it.
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Old 08-08-2008, 12:41 PM
 
28,622 posts, read 40,604,922 times
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GoToMyPC might be a good alternative. Using it actually logs you into the office computer and you are working on it, not the home PC. If you require files you can copy from one to the other through the interface so you can copy a file from the office to home, change it, then copy it back.

I have a client doing this and his bookkeeper works in QuickBooks from home (new baby). I also log in and troubleshoot. Great time saver.
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Old 08-08-2008, 08:50 PM
 
Location: Cary, NC
34,313 posts, read 59,641,709 times
Reputation: 33433
Quote:
Originally Posted by EscapeCalifornia View Post
Another thought I had last night: Using a laptop and taking it between home and office may be the best solution but you may be implementing it badly. Using a fairly small and light machine and keeping a docking station with power supply on each end can make the task easier. So everything stays plugged into the docking station on either end (printer, network, mouse, monitor) and you just take the laptop with you. Don't settle for one of those "universal USB docking ports". They're not the real deal. You need a laptop that has a proprietary docking connector on the bottom than can pass all the ports, video, and power through it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tek_Freek View Post
GoToMyPC might be a good alternative. Using it actually logs you into the office computer and you are working on it, not the home PC. If you require files you can copy from one to the other through the interface so you can copy a file from the office to home, change it, then copy it back.

I have a client doing this and his bookkeeper works in QuickBooks from home (new baby). I also log in and troubleshoot. Great time saver.

Thanks fellows.

I guess I'm wondering if I want to go to a home server and move files to it, keeping everything on it.

Dumb idea?
Very expensive?
Clumsy?
More maintenance than a guy like me can do?
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Old 08-08-2008, 09:18 PM
 
Location: HoCo, MD
4,593 posts, read 8,198,614 times
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I think talking to a "pro" would be your best bet. There are a number of options, and picking the right one will depend on specifics of what you want as well as how much risk you are willing to take.

Whether a solution is right for you will again, depend on what you are trying to accomplish. There are risks and costs involved... so there is really no blanket answer. I personally will say that using tools like gotomypc is a no no (in fact, most enterprises will not allow that) - but as indicated above, someone is using it for their small business.

I just hope that person did a risk assessment when picking that solution (however simple that assessment may have been). Which is something an IT professional should do for you.
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Old 08-08-2008, 09:35 PM
 
Location: Cary, NC
34,313 posts, read 59,641,709 times
Reputation: 33433
Quote:
Originally Posted by macroy View Post
I think talking to a "pro" would be your best bet. There are a number of options, and picking the right one will depend on specifics of what you want as well as how much risk you are willing to take.

Whether a solution is right for you will again, depend on what you are trying to accomplish. There are risks and costs involved... so there is really no blanket answer. I personally will say that using tools like gotomypc is a no no (in fact, most enterprises will not allow that) - but as indicated above, someone is using it for their small business.

I just hope that person did a risk assessment when picking that solution (however simple that assessment may have been). Which is something an IT professional should do for you.
Absolutely understood and thank you. I intend to get a local pro involved, possibly the outside IT contractor who handles the office system.
And, yes, I will need permission from the company, I am sure, to go through their routers.

Just brainstorming, and passing time to get my thoughts in order somewhat, as I will not be talking to "The Pro from Dover" until later this month.
Thanks!
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