Remote Access and VPNs

Working remotely tends to take on one of two forms: you remotely access your machine in the office or at home from another machine, or you connect your machine to the office network using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection over the Internet and use the office network just like you would when you're in the office, albeit at a much reduced speed.

Choosing the right option tends to come down to one main factor: speed. Security is of course important, but how you will connect is usually defined by how fast you need your access to be. If you only need to access your emails in Outlook and connect to the Exchange Server for example, then a VPN connection is more than sufficient, but if you need to use an application on your machine which relies heavily on accessing files on the network such as one of the Sage Accounting applications then a Remote Control solution would be much better suited as the experience will be much better than a VPN in the vast majority of cases.

Remote Control

To remotely control one machine from another, we recommend one of three methods: LogMeInGotoMyPC or Remote Desktop Connection. LogMeIn and GotoMyPC are competing products which offer similar core features with added extras such as being able to transfer files between your local and remote machines as well as the ability to use your machine from iPhones and other SmartPhones through a web browser.

LogMeIn

LogMeIn is a remote access technology which allows you to access your computer from any PC with Internet Access and a web browser. You can remotely control your machine and transfer files. This provides a very useful function to a great number of small businesses who don't have resources to run enterprise class remote access systems.

GoToMyPC

GoToMyPC is based upon the Citrix terminal services technology and provides a very similar service to LogMeIn in that it allows you to remotely access your machine and files from any other Internet connected machine with a web browser.

Remote Desktop

Remote Desktop has been built into Windows since Windows XP and allows remote access of a Windows PC from another, or even a Mac.

More information

Citrix / Terminal Services

Larger organisations may utilise Citrix or Terminal Services to provide remote access to line of business applications for remote as well as local users.

Citrix can be used to provide access to a single application remotely, or an entire desktop. We have clients which remote offices where the main line of business application doesn't function sufficiently quickly over relatively slow inter-site links and so we employ Citrix to allow remote users to access applications and files without being subject to the constraints of a relatively slow connection linking their office to the main infrastructure.


Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)

VPNs are primarily a remote access tool for you to connect to one network from another over the Internet. They provide a secure connection over an insecure connection. This is to say that they provide a mechanism to connect securely to your network over the Internet. There are different types of VPN connection and the three most common are:

  • PPTP (Point to Point Tunnelling Protocol)
  • IPSEC
  • SSL

aFinite recommend the the use of a hardware device to provide VPN services which can be found in most enterprise

PPTP

PPTP or Point to Point Tunneling Protocol VPNs are quite easy to setup as both Macs and PCs have builtin support for them with no additional software being required. One of their biggest limitations is that you can typically only make a single connection from one location to your destination. This means that if more than one person at the same location wants to connect to the same network, then the first person will be able to and anybody else will have to wait until they close their connection before they can access the network remotely.

IPSEC

IPSec or Internet Protocol Security is regarded as a more secure form of VPN when compared to PPTP, but it is more difficult to setup and typically needs specific software installing on client machines in order to make a connection. We are now phasing out the use of IPSec in favour of SSL VPNs due to their ability to work in a much wider range of circumstances.

SSL

SSL VPNs are much newer and have the specific advantage of using the SSL protocol and ports used by secure websites which utilise HTTPS and so are typically much more reliable when roaming around the world and trying to connect back to your office from locations with more esoteric configurations. We have had great success with SSL VPN connections where PPTP and IPSec proved troublesome, not because of security, but simply in terms of ability to connect to the destination.

Contact

Contact aFinite about Remote Access and VPNs

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How to find us

Need to drop anything off to us? Here's our office address. If you need any more help finding us then please don't hesitate to call us.

The Round Foundry Media Centre
Foundry Street
Leeds
West Yorkshire
LS11 5QP
T : 0113 887 3999
F : 0113 394 4501
E :

Alternatively if you would like to send us a message then please click here to visit out contact page.

aFinite is a trading name of aFinite Limited, registered in England and Wales no 04581730 VAT Registration No GB 827 9921 82.

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