How to map a network drive over the Internet?
May 15, 2007 2:32 PM   Subscribe

What's the easiest, most secure way to map a network drive over the Internet?

Situation: two computers, one laptop (Vista Home Basic), one desktop (XP Pro). I have a few drives on the desktop mapped to the laptop, which works great -- but I'd like for it to work (as seemlessly as it does now) when I leave the house and connect to the Internet from a different connection than that of the desktop.

Can Windows do this without any extra software? If not, what's the best (free, preferably) software that does this?

I'm not looking for VNC, as I've already got that setup.
posted by c:\awesome to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not 100% sure I understand what you're trying to do, but it sounds like a job for Hamachi.
posted by The Bellman at 3:03 PM on May 15, 2007

webdrive is something that I've found useful in the past, might be less involved than hamachi, which is also good.
posted by snailer at 3:09 PM on May 15, 2007

if they have ip addresses you should be able to map them the same way, for example,

posted by null terminated at 3:15 PM on May 15, 2007

You could set up a port-forward on your router for ports 135-139 and then use either the IP address or some Dynamic DNS resolution.

I could not possibly argue against this strenuously enough. But it's not my network, so do what you like. Your ISP may block those ports anyway.

Alternatively, you would need a VPN. Smoothwall, or IPcop can do that and are free. But not for the faint of heart.

Netgear and Cisco make small home office type VPN routers. I do not have any experience with them, however.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:20 PM on May 15, 2007

I suggest looking into a VPN. It might not be seamless, but this is exactly what VPN was made for. You don't need any additional hardware, just a VPN server (software on your desktop, with a known IP address or DNS set up) and a router that will allow your laptop to find your desktop.
posted by philomathoholic at 4:03 PM on May 15, 2007

As The Bellman sayeth, Hamachi is definitely the way to go.

Please do not give your computer a public IP address. You are only asking for trouble if you do.
posted by ldenneau at 4:28 PM on May 15, 2007

A lot of ADSL routers have a VPN option on them. In the past, I've used a Draytek on more than one occasion and it's worked great.

The great thing about using VPN is it's very easy to set up at the client end. You don't need any extra software. In fact, with windows machines, you'll be able to connect very easily using the inbuilt utilities. No need to download anything.

With XP, Remote desktop works a lot better than VNC.
posted by seanyboy at 4:28 PM on May 15, 2007

Thirding Hamachi. Works beautifully. It implements a VPN that works through any kind of router and almost any kind of firewall without you needing to do anything more complicated than make up a name for your network and choose a good password.

One Hamachi trick that's worth knowing about is to run the free version of the Hamachi app as a Windows scheduled task. This lets you run it regardless of who is or is not logged on, with the administrative user credentials it needs. Set it up to run every five minutes for 1435 minutes of every day (it won't start again if it's already running, so you won't end up with hundreds of Hamachi processes). That way, if the link dies, it will come back up in under five minutes.

For remote control of Windows, I prefer UltraVNC with the video hook driver (installed by default) to Remote Desktop. This, too, runs beautifully over Hamachi.

I can't use Hamachi at work, though, because the paranoid clowns upstream have blocked access to the connection-mediation servers (on the grounds that it's a "peer to peer support service"). So instead, I use an ssh tunnel. That's fiddlier to set up than Hamachi but is just as secure.
posted by flabdablet at 5:12 PM on May 15, 2007

That's fiddlier to set up than Hamachi but is just as secure.

Hamachi is closed-source, which is generally frowned upon when it comes to security applications.

On the other hand, there are numerous open-source implementations of ssh and sftp.

An ssh tunnel is more difficult to set up than hamachi, but it is almost certainly more secure.
posted by cactus at 7:19 PM on May 15, 2007

hamachi is great so is qnext. Personally I use IIS which is built into xp pro, and media center edtion. Set my computer up with a free subdomain through and use their tool to auto update when my external ip address changes. setup a requred username and password for the site, share my files and rock and roll.
posted by the_binary_blues at 9:10 AM on May 17, 2007

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