Setting up a network


At my job we have the usual C: drive as well as a network drive Z: that can be accessed by everyone at the company even if they are in a different state.

I would like to create the same thing on my home computer where select other people can access select files, folders, etc that are physically stored on my hard drive. Any advice on how to set this up would be appreciated.

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  1. There must 101 ways to accomplish this task, ranging from uber simple to very complex, from ridiculously insecure, to something even the NAS might find challenging. And since we don't know your skill level, or exactly who you'll being sharing this with (family, friends, colleagues) and the varying levels of trust that implies, and whose own skill levels and access tools we also don't know (PCs? tablets? smart phones?), well…, let’s just say, it gets complicated. And as a rule of thumb, the easier it is to implement, the more it costs. So if you’re looking for the freebie path, it can prove daunting, at least if you want to do everything possible to protect your security and privacy.

    So erring on the conservative side and assuming the absolute worst, my recommendation is that you NEVER expose your system folders/files directly to anyone else. Instead, move/copy the files you wish to share off your PC to a device intended ONLY for sharing. And only use a tool that provides web based access, and over secure protocols anyone is sure to have, w/ a good mix of platform support (PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android). To that end, I’d suggest something like a PogoPlug w/ multi-user sharing. There may be other similar devices, but that one comes immediately to mind.

    With the PogoPlug, you can attached one more USB external storage drives (flash or HDD) and copy files in and out as needed. And users can access them via the web. And if you’d prefer, you can even upload them to the cloud to minimize the impact to your own upload bandwidth (so multiple ppl aren’t uploading the same file). You get 5GB for free, but can pay for more if you like.

    Understand, I’m not suggesting you couldn’t find some other methods involving more complex setups, even at little to no cost, but again I’m looking at this VERY conservatively and thinking what’s the easiest and most foolproof solution. At least until you convince me you’re prepared for more complex solutions.
  2. Thanks for your help. I consider myself fairly computer savvy generally – I built the computer I use and can program in VBA, for example – but about this particular topic I don’t really know anything.

    I downloaded freeFTPd because from the description it seemed like about what I needed, but there doesn’t seem to be a user manual with it, and I have no idea what I’m looking at, or how to upload files or how someone else can access it.

    It has to be fairly secure – my tax returns, that have my social security number on them are an example of something I’ll be sharing. It will be with colleagues, and needs to be something they can add files too as well. There only needs to be access from a PC, but it has to be fairly simple to operate. I don’t want to share my system files, but was wondering if I could share a particular folder hierarchy or set up a disk partition and use that in a way that they could also add files to.

    I had looked at getting a NAS Drive, but I have plenty of space on my current hard drive, and was wondering if I could set up a partition that would function the same way. And I’m not sure how to use a NAS drive even if I got one.

    I would rather have something that doesn't have a monthly subscription fee like PogoPlug and works more like the regular drives you see under My Computer. I don't mind putting in some time learning about it, but I'm not really sure where to begin.
  3. Best answer
    The PogoPlug is free for 5GB of cloud storage, and always free if you keep your content local. It maps its USB connected devices to your PC using a common drive letter assignment (P: by default). It's up to you whether you want to copy any or all the local content to the cloud (doing so makes retrieval faster for clients and minimizes the impact to your own internet bandwidth). And it uses a simple web interface over a secure protocol (plus mobile apps are available). And the PogoPlug classic has been available lately for <$20. It just doesn’t get any easier as long as you have very modest needs. For all intents and purposes, it *is* NAS. It just happens to include the secure protocols and UI necessary for remote access too. The only thing I would consider a negative is that adding individual users and user-specific privileges would require upgrading to a paid account.

    Again, the issue is security. Anytime you make your content available over the web, you risk it leaking out. And once you start down the path of creating your own solution, you risk making a mistake, or simply not being aware of the dangers. FTP is a classic one. It’s completely unsecured since it passes not only the data, but your username/password in the clear! You’d need to use a secure version (e.g., SFTP) or else run it over some type of VPN (Hamachi). But now all your users have the same capabilities. That’s why having a standard web interface (https://...) is so appealing; there’s nothing for anyone to setup, yet it’s at least as secure as anything your online banking system provides.

    If you insist on your own solution, you’re going to need to provide the storage, protocols servers (http, ftp, etc.), and security mechanisms (e.g., VPN), and manage it all. And all just to share a few files. Seems like quite a hassle to me to share a few documents w/ colleagues.

    There may be other PogoPlug-like solutions out there as well. I only mentioned it specifically because it’s been really inexpensive lately for the entry level products. But it’s definitely the “kind of” thing I’d strongly suggest for someone in your circumstances, unless you’re really “into it” in terms of designing and managing your own solution.
  4. Best answer selected by MhtWFutwv.
  5. Sounds like PogoPlug is the best thing for me. Thanks
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