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Many locations, where to store Documents?

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  • Many locations, where to store Documents?

    I am an MSP and I service chains of businesses that have many locations throughout the state. We try to have as much as possible based out of the corporate office to minimize backups and issues. One such thing are the users Desktop and Documents (not their entire profile). Up until now the users were mostly accessing their desktop/documents through Terminal Services into the corporate HQ, but there is now no longer a need to use TS's as everything is web based. I want to take the users back to their local desktops. The issue is, where to store their files. I don't care about roaming profiles...if they sit at someone else's desk I only care that their desktop files and documents should be there. If I put their home folder as the corporate HQ NAS, then everyone will be accessing every document over the VPN. For a small Word doc or Excel spreadsheet it's no big deal, but for a 20MB PDF it would be problematic.

    What do you guys recommend as the best way to accomplish this? I was thinking to do the following option:

    Have a local smaller NAS at each location. Set their home folder to point to the local NAS in their building. That way, 99% of the time they access their files it will be local, and the other 1% when they happen to be at HQ or another building, it will take a little longer. I would have the NAS's all connected to the corporate NAS using replication of some sort, and only back up the corporate NAS.

    The only other thing I can think of is to somehow force offline files even though their technically "connected" (over the VPN). This way most files will be stored locally and only in the background and on logon/logoff will it sync over the VPN to the corporate NAS. Is this the way it works anyway? Or would I need to do something special? Is this even a good option?

    I appreciate your help with this. I didn't know where else to put this question besides in the AD forum. If it's wrong, please move it.

    Thanks

  • #2
    Re: Many locations, where to store Documents?

    Used to work at the corporate headquarters for a company with 100 branches around the country. We had a DC / file / print server in each office. Worked great.
    ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **

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    • #3
      Re: Many locations, where to store Documents?

      Originally posted by Wired View Post
      Used to work at the corporate headquarters for a company with 100 branches around the country. We had a DC / file / print server in each office. Worked great.
      Wired, I appreciate your suggestion, however your solution requires a server at each branch. The cost of the hardware (at a minimum $1,500 per location) plus the issue of dealing with many (let's say 15) different servers with possible hardware/software problems and replacing servers every 4-5 years etc. is not worth the hassle.

      I guess part of my question should have been...is authenticating to a DC across a VPN really such a big deal? We are talking about maximum 500 users all located within 100 miles of each other. And I should add...I would like to know how to add the user to the domain, but still have his DNS going locally to the router? My experience has always been that to get a PC on a different subnet to connect to the domain, you need to set the DC as the primary DNS in the users TCP/IP settings.
      Last edited by kingbear2; 8th July 2012, 22:02.

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      • #4
        Re: Many locations, where to store Documents?

        As long as your WAN links can handle the authentications and traffic that will be going over them then it is possible. A lot will depend on your current setup and whether your users can handle the speed at which they will work.

        We have offices with 5-6 users in them and have fully kitted them out with servers so that they are local when dragging docs down.

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        • #5
          Re: Many locations, where to store Documents?

          If you are using Win7 / Server 2008R2, look into Branch Cache
          Tom Jones
          MCT, MCSE (2000:Security & 2003), MCSA:Security & Messaging, MCDBA, MCDST, MCITP(EA, EMA, SA, EDA, ES, CS), MCTS, MCP, Sec+
          PhD, MSc, FIAP, MIITT
          IT Trainer / Consultant
          Ossian Ltd
          Scotland

          ** Remember to give credit where credit is due and leave reputation points where appropriate **

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          • #6
            Re: Many locations, where to store Documents?

            Have you considered using a DFS Domain Based Namespace and using DFS for the replication, seeing that you still want to backup data centrally?

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