Internet Share drive for a small company...

March 15, 2011 at 12:48:43
Specs: Windows XP

I need some insight on how I can get my employees to use a share drive on an external drive for our company.. All employees are located in different locations. What products do you recommend and will I need any permission from my internet provider to allow this? I am anything but a computer savvy person. so please forgive me for my ignorance but ask to speak in simple non tech terms...

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March 15, 2011 at 13:00:18
I would Purchase a Cisco Router that has Virtual Private Networking (VPN) and have some one set it up for you. It makes it so you are Virtualy on the Network from home. Cisco is not cheap though, there are other Router companies out there like Juniper and if you are looking really cheap you can go with a Small Office Home Office (SOHO) router like Netgear or Linksys. Just make sure they have VPN and get some one to help you set it up.

As for your Internet Service Provider (ISP) you will probably want to get some Static IPs from them. Just tell them that you are setting up VPN and they will understand.

Good Luck.

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March 15, 2011 at 13:07:16
WOW.. Thanks Ace... Now the tough questions... What is the best way to set the network up?.. again, I am not savvy on this but so far I like what you told me... Will I need to configure all the computers I am allowing access to? or can you suggest an easier method?....

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March 15, 2011 at 14:02:22
Now the tough questions... What is the best way to set the network up?
Correctly? Honestly? Contract someone to do it (and have him check for any public facing attack vectors while he's there). You're asking for the computing equivalent of dropping your car's engine. He might be able to explore other (more high-latency friendly) file sharing options.

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March 15, 2011 at 14:03:26
Please describe what users will be accessing and why. More detail the better.

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March 15, 2011 at 14:14:13
Thank You folks...

The files are highly sensitive material... What I need to do is pass these files from one user onto the shared network for compliance reasons.. I need to store this data in case the regulatory bodies need access to review the documents. There will be roughly 23 users located in different locations not sharing my ISP... Some have suggested using an online company to host this but I am not comfortable doing this..

Ace recommended buying a Cisco router with VPN which I am in the process of doing.. I need to store roughly 25k to 30k files for now... I am also thinking of adding an external storage device.. I dont know which one is equipped to handle this volume....Any thoughts or suggestions would gladly be appreciated!!!!

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March 15, 2011 at 16:22:14
Yes, you will want to go with a higher end VPN that supports IP Security (IPsec) which will encrypt the data before it is passed through the internet.

As for how to setup the network you will need a way to get the decryption key to the clients securely. I suggest you setup a certificate server for this. You will need someone who knows Cisco (Maybe Cisco Certified) and has an understanding of how to setup VPN networks.

There is nothing wrong with third party as long as you do your home work. Research the company and ask to see if you can have a tour of their facility. See if they have physical security to protect the server that your data is going to reside on. The advantage to third party is they set every thing up for you and you have off site backups so if your office burns down your data is still safe. The disadvantage is they are expensive and if you need support on the servers that your data resides on, it can be slow.

So like Wanderer said we need to know a little about how your data is accessed. How much does it cost you to be down, what kind of systems will be accessing this data and so on? As suggested above, I would get a consulting company to come in and put together a plan for you. They will audit your computers to see what software you are using and the needs are for these systems and give you suggestions.

I would say that with 20-30 people accessing the data remotely is not a lot but it could all depend on how fast the connection is to the internet both on your end and theirs. Another question that has not been asked yet (I don't think) is do you have any remote offices that will be tying in? If so you may need to equip them with VPN routers to establish a Point to Point VPN that is always on.

"external storage device"

If you do is this device going to be used for backups or live data? There are couple types of external storage devices Network Accessible Storage (NAS) and Storage Area Network (SANs) and each has pros and cons. We would need to know a little more about what you are planning to do to make a recommendation.

As stated above you really will want to bring in a consultant but we can at least help you with what kinds of questions you should ask.

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March 15, 2011 at 16:57:53
Thanks Ace...

Perhaps an outline of the flow would best explain what I am trying to do......

I have a secured website that uploads data from a user.. This data is what I am trying to protect and remain secure.. The front end user uploads this data into our system via a scan and then its passed to our back end platform once its complete.

My Operations manager then decides which one of the 23 people will review the files and process.. The people in our company are located thru out the USA..Again none work off my ISP. Each has their own ISP..

The upload is transformed in to a PDF file and bundled by my system, however, I want the people in my company to store and set up the bundled files for future purpose like our internal audit and regulatory agencies to review at a later date....

This bundled package is then passed to the interested party for them to review by faxing the data to them.. Only the people in our company will have access to our back end system..

I want to create a shared drive and folder so that each person is able to place their files into the shared network.. However, I would like to limit each user only access to the files they are securing but have our OM and managing partners have the access to all files..

So, what are your thoughts??..... And again.. Thanks for the help!!!

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March 15, 2011 at 17:17:14
Brazil Lou don't start purchasing anything. Way too premature.

Sonicwall for vpn appliances are better easier to configure than Cisco. Anyway you go this isn't something you will be doing yourself.

"25k to 30k files" has to be a typo or major underestimation of the files volume.

You repeat that the other users are not using your ISP. Understand that all they need is internet access and that can be provided by anyone anywhere even at a internet cafe.

What you describe internally can be handled by a NAS unit.
Don't forget to plan for raided drives and backup of the unit.

But the consultant you bring in should be able to advise you accordingly.

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March 15, 2011 at 18:25:59
Thanks Wanderer...

25k to 30k (25,000 to 30,000) files each containing roughly 25 to 30 pdf pages in each file.. Thats a large data base in my line of work....

So what I have gathered so far is this is not for the faith of hearts and I really should bring in a tech person to assist. If so, then I appreicate all who have posted here on their views and Thank You folks for the help... I will let you know what the tech person suggests and share it with you guys...

All the best!!....

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March 15, 2011 at 21:13:44
Silly me. I read k as kb [kilobytes]. Usually you want to talk about how much disk space is used now. That helps, with a timeline of the growth, to plan your future disk storage.

Good luck and let us know how it goes.

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March 16, 2011 at 08:27:03

No worries.. I take it for granted that people understand k for thousands..

One last question for the panel.. Currently the web design team company is hosting my website and emails. Additionally, they are the programmers who wrote the front end and back end of my system.. I am about to start discussion with phase two of the system enhancement designs.. My intentions are to remove them as the host once I can afford to hire my own IT department..

Should I start to plan an expansion now? or wait? I am hoping by next year this time all of my system programming and storing for our company to be in house as our company expands into the larger phase of the service we provide..

If expansion planning is now, I want to make sure I have the correct storage devices for use that needs to house nearly 1 to 5 million files in three years...

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