Accessing your local church computers and information from an external location is not as hard as you think. Here are some great ways to get remote access to your local network.
- Logmein FREE version LogMeIn.com offers a free service that gives you access to your remote computer as if you are sitting in front of it. It’s a great way to work remotely from home or on the road. Some of the beefy features of their paid versions include printer sharing, and easy file transferring. However, LogMeIn FREE is all you need to get you started. This is also a great way to work on other computers at the office without ever leaving your desk. Seriously, stop paying for these bloated web services that make you pay for what is FREE.
- DropBox DropBox has been one of my favorite and most productive tools I’ve ever used. Basically, DropBox sets up a folder one multiple computers of your choice, and whatever you place in that folder, it syncs it to all computers. If you are working on a file at the office, simply save it to your DropBox and then pick up where you left off at home. You can also grab your files from the website. It’s so simple and hassle-free. And it’s free!
- Lacie Big Disk Network I’m a huge fan of Lacie network drives. You can now get a 2 Terabyte drive for under $400.00. It plugs into your network and withing a few configuration steps, you have a pretty complex file server. It allows you to create users and share folders for each user/department. Users can be restricted to viewing only certain file. The great thing about this new Lacie is that you can backup your files to an external hard drive with built-in backup features. It also comes with an FTP (file transfer protocol) server for you to access your files remotely from any FTP client. Alternatively, it comes with it’s own web interface that can be access from any browser that takes zero configuration. I highly recommend you getting one of these immediately to centralize your data and give you access to your important documents on the fly.
- Filezilla This is a great free FTP server that can be installed on any of your computers. This is a software for the more advanced tech. It requires opening up ports on your firewall, port-forwarding on your router and configuring your passive-mode settings. The cool thing is you can create users to access certain folders. This is great if you have a dedicated server on-site. You can use it locally to share files with others while in the office or remotely (if you choose) to access files from anywhere. Take a look at the instructions for installation.
- Abyss Web Server Setting up a web server is as easy as installing some software and making a couple changes on your router. This is a great way to create an intranet site for your church employees. Aprelium has great documentation to get you started. By setting up port-forwarding, you can access your Intranet site remotely. (Forward port 80 to the static Local IP of the computer where your web server is installed — Example: 192.168.1.200). You can even mask it with a domain from DynDNS.org with their dynamic ip service. This part is not for the faint-hearted. You need to dig in and learn about IPs and how they work. Basically, if you have a simple internet service, your IP changes every week, or every other week. This is called a dynamic IP. This means to find your network from an external browser can become a nightmare. DynDNS tracks your IP via a little program that runs on your computer. It then gives you a domain that’s easy to remember and takes care of the hard part. If you have a service that gives you a static IP (one that never changes), then all you have to do is update the DynDNS.org website one time and you’re set.
We’re living in the digital age. There’s no reason your frequently-used files have to stay locked away on your church computers. Figure out a good solution to help your staff be more productive in and out of the office. You’ll be a tech hero!