VPN Noob - Connecting 2-3 office together


After doing some research I think what I need is a VPN... I am not too much of a techy but basically what happens is that I have a business with a partner, we are basically 2 for now. We work from home and often need to share files, I am a designer so I work in photoshop with heavy files , and my partner is a programmer integrator so he needs access to my files.

I have a pretty fast internet connection at home, I can upload at around 1mb/s so I thought the server should be at my place.

We also want to have some kind of fail proof backup system. I can think of 2 ways to do this, 1. there is a dedicated shared hard drive that is setup in somekind of raid setup. 2. There are backups that run every night and copies files from one drive to another. 3. The files that are on the shared drive are synced locally to all our computers ( this gives the added advantage that if we are out somewhere and dont have internet access we still have the latest files from the previous sync )

Basically, I'd like for me and my partner to work on the same "drive" , just like if that drive was local. We often go out meet clients and have both laptops and we need to access files on the server.

Right now we are 2 but we have 4 computers, so all our files are scattered accross everywhere, a lot of files are duplicated, and some are outdated, so its a real headaches sometimes.

I want something very simple, I dont want to use an FTP because you have to login all the time and the interface isnt like windows, you cant drag n drop and do things like you would normally do in windows explorer.

What do i need to do in order to achieve what I need, im on a thight budget also but I have 2 500gb hard drive spare that could be used and also a spare old computer that COULD be used as a dedicated server ( or I could use my current desktop ? )

I heard about some kind of free linux thingy for servers i forgot the name, but it seems pretty complicated to setup... I really would like to avoid taking 1 or 2 days of setting up.

I also heard about something called Hamachi but im not sure it would do everything I need.

Advise please !?
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More about noob connecting office together
  1. VPN servers are normally the companys/users firewall as well - only lsrger companies need specific vpn servers.

    I'm going to guess that you have a branded router dishing out your P addresses and acting as a firewall already, you may want to look at replacing the device (or converting it to just act as a switch) and installing a linux distro on a basic PC (old kit p4 would be fine) to act as a router/dhpc server/firewall and VPN access.

    Take a look at IPCOP - http://sourceforge.net/apps/trac/ipcop/wiki
    personaly I use IPFire - http://www.ipfire.org/en/index - but at the moment there is not as much support documents

    Either of these can give you VPN access to your home/office network - I would then look at creating a network storage area - personaly I would use a windows server box with the one of those 2 disks in it - a cheaper option would be freeNAS (another linux distro) http://www.freenas.org/

    notice I say 1 of the 2 disks - RAID may not be your best option as your only protecting against disk fail, manualy backing up the data to the 2nd disk for storage in a safe (ideally off site) would be my personal option
  2. another option....

    3rd party online storage company and you both share the login details

    may not be the kind of solution ur looking fir though
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