Help me work from home and still have access to my files
February 20, 2017 8:28 PM   Subscribe

Right now I'm using Dropbox to work from home 3 days a week but when I'm done editing the files someone at the office has to save them back into our network folder. I had been emailing my boss at the end of my work week but I want some way to sync it back to the network automatically. I need a better solution but I know almost nothing about networks.

We are using Windows 7 and there are about 5 computers at the office connected to the network by a cable.
So right now my system is this: go to the office on mondays, work a full day and then copy any files I need to my Dropbox folder for the next 3 days of work at home. On Thursday I email my finished work to my boss and he is supposed to use those files if anyone needs to have access to them before I get back to the office the next week. My boss is super busy and not very detail oriented and has been annoyed a few times that my files are not saved to the network. Sometimes someone in the office will think whatever is saved to the network is the current file and will work on the old one, not the new one that had been emailed out to my boss.
I need another solution. I can't fit all of the network files into the Dropbox folder and even if I pay for more storage I don't think I can link to existing folder sets to be synced. Also I am worried a lot of syncing programs would not work well with the network. (Not recommended for Dropbox.)
Can someone recommend me a trusted solution? I don't need to run programs remotely, just access the files and most importantly put the files back in place when I'm done working on them. It doesn't need to be free but hopefully not too much $. I can have my colleagues turn on my computer every morning or most likely I will just install the software to the main network computer where files are all saved and that computer is on all day during office hours. Thanks!
posted by photoexplorer to Computers & Internet (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not clear when you say you can't fit all the network files in the dropbox folder. Dropbox pro gives you a TB of space. A synced DropBox folder on one of the office machines isn't an option? That really seems like a good solution, what DropBox is designed for. You can run your own instance of OwnCloud.
posted by humboldt32 at 8:40 PM on February 20, 2017

Sounds like you've installed Dropbox on your office computer. You should be able to point it to the network drive as your synced folder location, so everything in your Dropbox also lives on the network drive. Instead of the network files being a subset of your Dropbox folder, your Dropbox folder is a subset of what's on the network.
posted by supercres at 8:49 PM on February 20, 2017

Addendum: I see that they recommend against it, but I've done it before. Absolutely have a backup in place if you try this.
posted by supercres at 8:51 PM on February 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Some more info:
My current Dropbox is too small but yes 1tb might be ok if I upgraded. (It's a massive folder of folders. Everything my office works on and has worked on in the past few years.) Although having all of those sync to Dropbox would take a LOT of time to sync initially so I'm not sure this is a good plan.
I don't have much control over the network, it needs to stay in place and I don't want to mess up anything by syncing it. My boss does back it up once a week or so manually. (He won't be talked into using online backup like Backblaze which I use at home.) if Dropbox says not to sync to a network I would prefer not to do so.
I didn't know I can point to an existing folder though, good to know.
What about go to my pc? Is it good? I am researching that now also.
posted by photoexplorer at 8:58 PM on February 20, 2017

Have you tried creating a Shared Folder in Dropbox? Anything in this folder is shared among any users who have rights to it. If individual computers on the network have Dropbox installed, they can access this shared folder.

Something else that might work is to set up one computer other than yours to sync to its local hard drive. Then download Microsoft's Synctoy to copy the files (and keep them synced) to a network folder. You can use a scheduler to run it automatically.

Test this extensively to make sure it doesn't wreck your files.
posted by lhauser at 9:00 PM on February 20, 2017

Ok one last comment and I won't threadsit.
But this is crucial... the files need to go back to their home on the network when I'm done with them. My boss isn't gonna look in a separate Dropbox folder, he will forget just like he forgets to check email. That would make it simpler.
Thanks :)
posted by photoexplorer at 9:09 PM on February 20, 2017

Seems like the dropbox rigamarole is a hack anyway. If this is going to be a long-term thing (for you or others), your IT department might want to set up a corporate VPN. That way you just use the files on the network from home. Others see your changes. Done.
posted by ctmf at 9:11 PM on February 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

Yes, you need a corporate VPN. However, from the sound of "5 computers connected by a cable" I am guessing that your office is very small, you do not have an IT person and there probably isn't budget for, much less someone to set up a Corporate VPN. There should also be something like Sharepoint or another document management system so when you are working on a file it is "checked out" to you so others know that they are not looking at the most recent version. Again, need for money and expertise.

What about getting a 2nd computer for your desk at work then using something like TeamViewer or GoToAssist to connect to your work computer from your home computer. You would control the work computer from the home computer and could transfer the files from home computer to work computer and then to the network drive. You can have someone in the office turn on the work computer's access when you need it on Thursday so the only time it is "open" to outside connection is that day/time you need it.
posted by CoffeeHikeNapWine at 9:18 PM on February 20, 2017 [1 favorite]

even though you don't need to run programs remotely, you could use TeamViewer's file transfer function to transfer files back and forth, while logged in remotely. it needs to be installed on both your home computer, and your work computer (or the main network computer.) if you set up your own login/profile, you won't need to enter the "partner ID" every time, and can just login in for quick access. this should work as long as the computers are both on, they each have an internet connection, and the server is not set up to block remote access programs.
posted by emoemu at 9:25 PM on February 20, 2017

If you have a computer in the office hen I can recommend putting Resilio Sync (formerly BitTorrent Sync) on. Oth machines and picking/choosing what you'd like to sync. The free option has been good enough for me.
posted by furtive at 9:51 PM on February 20, 2017

TeamViewer's security and access settings can be pretty opaque for new users. I'm not saying don't use it, but you'll have to study up on the various settings you can change from default to make the access point as narrow and you-shaped as you ought.

My other thought would be to write a batch script that a co-worker could run on the office computer with the Dropbox to copy the revised files to their network locations, but if you're not up-to-speed on batch scripting already then it might be more trouble than it's worth.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 10:43 PM on February 20, 2017

If you're willing to pay money and have a computer that stays at the office, Logmein is way better than TeamViewer and its ilk for remote access. They also offer a program called Hamachi that sets up a VPN using a computer at the office, through which you could access the network drive directly from your computer at home, same as if you were at the office.
posted by wierdo at 11:32 PM on February 20, 2017

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