Requesting Advice on Server Setup for Remote File Access


I'm trying to plan out a new network setup for a real estate company that I recently started doing IT work for (on a call-in basis). Their objective: access shared network drive from mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, Android, Windows laptops running various Home editions). I'm seeking advice on what would be a good setup for them.

The present server is an old Windows 2000 Server w/SP2 running in a workgroup rather than a domain. Active Directory isn't even installed. The server shows that as many as 17 connections have been recorded under licensing. Most of the computers there are personally owned laptops that the agents bring in each day, so they're all unmanaged.

I would like to build a nice server with Windows Server 2012 Essentials (which I understand can be "in-place" upgraded to Standard).

I'm concerned that all the usual ways to get remote access to files will require domain authentication, and I can't join these computers to a domain with Home editions of Windows. Am I right?

I've seen "VPN" listed in the settings on Android & iOS devices. Can I host VPN on the server in a workgroup configuration? Wouldn't it fail to authenticate users? Can I setup the server to use Active Directory and still somehow connect non-domain-connected Windows Home clients through a credentials prompt?

I do have experience with OpenVPN using security certificates, but have never set it up outside of a domain network.

Thanks for any and all thoughts!
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More about requesting advice server setup remote file access
  1. Hi, it's me again. I've been thinking about it & decided to go with FTP for the time being. With an app on each device, I believe it will serve the purpose nicely until they decide to run any kind of server-hosted software. I'd still like to hear any thoughts if you have any. Thanks.
  2. I'd probably just go with since most phone could easily access that.
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