August 30, 2012 7:08 AM   Subscribe

What router / NAS combination (or just NAS) do I need to pre-configure and ship to a friend of mine so that I can send files to the NAS over the internet? He is not at all computer savy. What I am hoping for is a VPN or similar that I can log into without his help and push files / pull files from the drive.
posted by CodeMonkey to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I bought a couple of Synology DS411s for work. They seem to be working really well. Nice web interface, and easy enough to add extra software components. Took me an hour or so to get a VPN working, even though I was 250 miles from the office.

Getting a VPN going is largely a matter of opening the appropriate port(s) on the router. If you can get your friend to install some kind of remote desktop thing on his computer, you should be able to do almost all of the setup remotely.
posted by pipeski at 7:18 AM on August 30, 2012

Response by poster: BTW: I want this to run without a computer at all. Just log into the NAS and put/get files.
posted by CodeMonkey at 8:33 AM on August 30, 2012

You're probably going to have to have some way of setting up the NAS and router. The DS411 I mentioned requires a computer for initial setup. It can then be set up for remote administration via a browser, which is how I've configured ours. I'm not aware of any products that are completely configuration-free.
posted by pipeski at 9:04 AM on August 30, 2012

The main problem I see with something like this is that just opening ports up can be a pretty significant security risk. You're effectively putting the NAS directly on the Internet if you simply open the ports to it, and any vulnerabilities or misconfiguration in the NAS could allow access not only to the data, but to your friend's home network. If the person on the other end isn't technical, he's not going to be able to manage that risk (or notice if something has been compromised). I'm not sure it's really fair to a non-technical friend to put them in that position.

The more secure solution is real VPN, but that of course requires significantly more configuration and some hardware on the other end. You could put something like a Cisco ASA in as router and VPN endpoint, but it definitely needs someone who knows what they're doing to set it up, and I wouldn't recommend leaving management open to the Internet all the time.

Depending on what you actually want to do, and how much data is involved, there might be other solutions. For example, what about a shared cloud storage solution like dropbox or similar? Or you could do a custom synchronization
posted by primethyme at 10:59 AM on August 30, 2012

oops, accidentally submitted to soon.

I was starting to say you could also pretty easily do a custom synchronization scheme with some cloud storage like S3, but then I remembered you said you don't want a computer involved, and I think it would be hard to do in that situation.
posted by primethyme at 11:01 AM on August 30, 2012

Response by poster: I suppose I could initially set up the router, box it up and mail it to him. As long as it holds the configuration while being shipped that would work.

I suppose it doesn't even have to be VPN..maybe ftp would be fine. Just as long as its something that I could log into, push files, get files.

Files would be between 1Gb and 5Gb each.
posted by CodeMonkey at 12:00 PM on August 30, 2012

I second the Synology recommendation. It had a VPN built in and would be quite secure to point your router to. Any of their product would be suitable just select the right one in your price range.
posted by reddot at 7:48 PM on September 12, 2012

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