Last week I was with a customer and he wanted a way to access his data from the road. Usually this is an easy task but this setup had a couple of stipulations.

For an the person who need access to their data that is located on a computer somewhere else I recommend Log Me In www.logmein.com

But this setup required some more thought because not only did the customer require remote access to the data the data also had to sync to the office so people in the office could also access the data.

What I wanted to do for them I first had to test for myself and some where during the testing process I trashed my laptop and spent the weekend rebuilding from scratch. But I don’t think it?was a problem with the software I was using for the test but intead just all the crap on had on my laptop.

Let us begin.

The Goal:
Have a network folder that is available from anywhere in the world and to have any computer be able to connect to this folder and map it as a drive letter.

The Problem:
Customer does not have a “real” server in the office and data resides in the office located on a computer with an external harddrive.

The possible solution:

Using a combination of web technology and software here is what I have come up with. It is fairly simple to do what I will explain. The hardest part is just wrapping your brain around what I am talking about.

First we had to create a WebDav account. WebDav is a website technology implemented on webservers to provides functionality to create, change and move documents on a remote server (typically a web server or “web share”). This is useful for, among other things, authoring the documents which a web server serves, but can also be used for general web-based file storage that can be accessed from anywhere. Source -> Wikipedia. For testing I used Blue Host to setup the WebDav space because I already have an account with them for hosting.

After setting up the WebDav space I then installed a program called Web Drive from www.webdrive.com which enables any computer to access the WebDav webspace and map that location on your computer as a drive letter. In other words I can have a drive letter name W: and that drive letter is out floating on an server on the internet.

So now I have part of the equation completed? and that is creating a space on the internet that is easily accessible from multiple computers. Now I need to keep data in sync?on that internet spot and my local machine. The easy way to do this would be to just to manually copy this data but the customer would like to not have to think about doing any of this and want it to work in the background.

The big hurdle now is the syncronization software. Their are a lots of options out there and I have not found the best one yet (anyone have any suggestions). A free option would be to use SyncToy v1.4 from Microsoft but I don’t know if you can schedule the sync.

The piece of software I tried was AutoSync from Memeo www.memeo.com . I tried this one because it was from the same company that makes backup software for the Seagate external harddrives that the customer purchased. The AutoSync software seemed to work great and installed easily. It didn’t even have a problem at all with the mapped drive letter.

After I got everything working I ran into problems after I rebooted later that night. Both the WebDrive software and the AutoSync software I used their trial versions. The problem seemed to be caused by the WebDrive software starting before the desktop loaded and the WebDrive software required that I click the “Try it ” button before going away. The problem was though since it started before I could see anything on the screen it kept the computer from finishing the startup and kept me from getting on my computer. So if you try this be careful.

Loren Nason
Your Local Tech

4 Comments

  1. andar909 on August 11, 2008 at 12:12 am

    hi, andar here, i just read your post. i like very much. agree to you, sir.

  2. Emmad on January 31, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    Thank you for the article and the information. I am a bit unclear at the roll of the Sync. software. I was under the impression that the users will be saving the files after selecting the the drive manually – Is this correct?

  3. Arthur on February 2, 2012 at 1:40 am

    Nice write Up, there is a very simple, tested and trusted solution, install Dropbox on all the concerned systems and the files will automatically be in sync without you even knowing it. You will have 2GB free space.
    Please tell me if it worked for you.

  4. Arthur on February 2, 2012 at 1:41 am

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