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Slightly OT: Sharing files between people across the US.

> I've been asked to develop a solution to the following problem for a
> small business I do off-and-on sysadmin work for. I'm curious if anyone on
> list has any suggestions.
> The group has 4 people based in Boston at their 'headquarters', plus they
> regional people who sort of do freelance work for them based in various
> parts of the continental US. Recently, the owner has decided to give
> the freelancers e-mail addresses so they aren't using their personal
> e-mail for business related material. He also wants to set up a 'shared
> area' that the freelancers can connect to and access internal stuff. They
> already have 'shared' network drive (Samba PDC/Win 2K workstations), and
> they want to have people access it, or a reasonable facsimile thereof.
> While the e-mail addresses aren't an issue, the shared data is. Normally I
> would do this correctly and buy a seperate server that is exposed to the
> Internet, get it a static IP, adjust domain names, etc. and then rsync the
> network drive daily/hourly/whatever. However, I am pretty sure that the
> price of this will cause it to be shot down rather quickly so I would like
> to go in with a backup plan.
> So, I submit to the list, what would you recomend in a situation such as
> this.
> His requirements are:
> * Able to be accessed by the frelancers, who have both dial up and
> broadband.
> * Keep it relatively up to date with their 'local' copy of the data,
> ideally keep it identical.
> My additional techie requirements are:
> * Cheap

What is "cheap?"

> * Secure
How secure?

> * Easy to maintain (I am the closest thing they have their to a geek)
How geeky are you?

> If you feel that this is a too OT, feel free to reply to me off list. TIA.

Actually, I have a similar sort of thing working. I have a el-cheapo
Netgear  VPN router. For users with similar routers, it is basicaly adding
some IP numbers.

The one problem I see in all this is "disk access." Apps don't take kindly
to hard disks going away as is likely to happen over the internet.

I think the VPN is a great idea if you fairly reliable connectivity, but
the requirement of modem users is a real bugger. Modems, forgive me, suck.
They will drop connection in the rain, accidental phone usage, etc. Not
something where you want an application accessing a file.

IMHO, allowing modem users direct access to files via a networking share
is asking for file corruption and data loss.

A CVS or subversion source control thing may be the answer.

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