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  1. #1
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    Windows Server 2008R2: configuring as file server and sync/backup

    Hi there

    I have a Windows 2008R2 server that I want to configure as a file server, and to store a small business' files on. The server has access to the internet, and can also be made available to access from outside the LAN via the internet.

    I want to set up the server so that I can firstly store all the company files in a central location. The laptops that are used need to only carry the latest files that are relevant to work that is currently ongoing - this will make for quicker backup and faster sync. This is also more secure if a laptop disappears!

    I want the laptops to automatically sync to the server to keep their working files backed up, as well as permitting the user to access the files from another device (alternative laptop) if the first one breaks down, or goes missing. I also want to replicate the entire file structure over the internet to a hosted server that will act as backup - also Windows Server 2008R2- on a daily basis as backup. Alternatively, I can sync to the internet hosted server for everyday sync and then backup to the server at the office. It would be ideal if you could do both, depending on where you happen to be, so as to avoid the issue of slow connection speeds.

    I am not sure which options to go for - please can someone guide me in the right direction:
    File Services
    Network Policy and Access Services
    Active Directory Certificate Services
    Active Directory Domain Services
    Active Directory Federation Services
    Active Directory Lightweight Directory Services
    Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS)

    I am certainly no fundi on the ActiveDirectory options, and have no idea what any of them will do or not do for me. Your help is much appreciated!

  2. #2
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    What you are proposing is normally achieved through use of Active Directory, but the creation and management are not exactly straight forward. From your post I assume you don't have a lot of experience with AD so I'm reluctant to try to explain how to create a working AD environment in a post here. I suggest you read up on AD and plan what you are going to do, then when you have questions you can come back here and ask.

    Basic for your requirements
    1. Set up AD on the server.
    2. Create a login script / group policy that maps the user's files (My Documents) to the server.
    3. Create a group policy that syncs the laptop (My Documents) with the user's files on the server.
    4. Join the laptops to the domain and let the users log on.

    Backup / sync to an offsite location is a whole new can of worms and an office backup is a whole lot easier. Get the AD going first then consider offsite.

    cheers, Paul

  3. #3
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    I think aomei backupper is a good tool. its latest version 2.0 supports backing up files and it always supports server.

  4. #4
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    Hi Paul

    Thanks for the pointers.... as you assumed, I have absolutely no experience with Active Directory. I have had a look at installing Active Directory, and tried several locations to learn a little about it, but I don't really know which flavour is required...

    There are several types of Active Directory that you can set up - which one would I be looking for?

    I assume that with Active Directory, you need to have the Pro versions of Windows 7 or 8.... since the home versions (or Basic) won't log into a Domain. Is this the case?

    Thanks for your help and guidance!

  5. #5
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    You are correct about the Windows versions.
    Re-reading your post I think it might be better to use sync software to keep the laptops backed up to the server. This removes the need for AD and the overhead of maintaining it, not to mention the upgrade cost for software. You can easily set up individual users on the server to keep data separate and secure, and you could even load software on the server and grant access via RDP for remote access.

    cheers, Paul

  6. #6
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    Thanks Paul...
    I have been investigating a couple of options to do this. Some appear OK, whilst others are really expensive for what you need to do! I have been using a system of trying to setup FTP server with an FTP sync programme called FTPSynchroniser (which works like a bomb - and is effective), however it does not easily sync between devices across the LAN - everything revolves around the server. RDP is cool, and allows you to use the server like you would a local machine, but is not that secure or reliable for transfers of data.

    AeroFS - free for 3 users, and syncs automatically. Seems OK, and no limit to the data volume. Only problem is the original setup - it has to copy the data itself! A problem with say 500Gb of data over a 2Mb ADSL line! Replicates between Servers, and is apparently securely transferred.

    OwnCloud - free system! Appears to be an excellent option that will give everything that is needed. This is my next setup - now just need to sort out where that will be hosted. Unfortunately it does not replicate itself - one server to suck up all your data, with no option of a second one to replicate to. Transfers can be secured if there is a certificate.... https://

    I looked at services like Sugarsync and Dropbox and GoogleDrive and OneDrive - all are good marketing systems, because they offer you a little bit of data storage free, and still don't guarantee that they will be around - like TrueCrypt! I won't put all my data into an opensource cloud because I won't allow all my data simply to be turned off by someone I don't even know! (hence - AeroFS being out of the loop since they keep your login details, which will be needed to decrypt the data you store!)

    My ideal solution would be OwnCloud setup with the secure file transfers of AeroFS and the replication between OwnCloud Servers set up as easily as that setup by AeroFS. And most importantly to be able to recognise data that is already there before syncing everything all over again!

  7. #7
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    RDP is very secure, but it's not really meant for data transfer.

    I'd do the initial sync when the laptops are in the office, after that sync should be quick.
    OwnCloud seems OK and SSL certificates are cheap / free.

    cheers, Paul

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