Can't leave home without it, your laptop that is. Do you need to access your company and customer files from home or on the road? Do you need remote access to your enterprise software? How do you stay in touch when you are on vacation or when you spend your day working from home? Is your remote access easy to use, always available and secure? There any many different options for you to consider when setting up remote access to your home or office and each has different advantages and disadvantages.

Some of the options are:

  • Web Access
  • Software Access
  • Terminal Services- Remote Desktop
  • VPN - Virtual Private Network

Web Access:
The web based products are fast and easy to use however you are required to download and install software from a third party that is constantly running on your computer. This software is constantly broadcasting your availability to be remote controlled. This is a possible maintenance and security challenge! The potential exists that a hacker may be able to access these computers. This option is normally used when there are just a few remote users and your security concerns are low.

Software Access:
The second way of remote access is with software that you purchase. This software can be expensive, upwards of $150.00 per computer and the remote access may run slow. The advantage is that they typically are more secure than the web based products. Software access is of higher security than Web Access. Due to the high cost of the software, this option is preferred when you only have a few remote users.

Terminal Services - Remote Desktop:
A third solution is Terminal Services, sometimes called Remote Desktop Connection. This works much faster than typical third party software applications. Terminal Services comes built into Windows 2003 server and Windows XP PRO with a one user license. Additional licenses can be purchased for Windows 2003 for about $90.00 per user. This is secure and inexpensive option when you already own Windows 2000 and 2003 server.

Virtual Private Network:
The fourth is a VPN: this is a technology that creates a secure path between your computer and the server in your office. When your connection is activated it is just like having a really long cord running from your office to your computer! All the resources that are available when you are at the office will be available from your remote computer. VPN is the most secure of all of the options but requires that you purchase a quality VPN Router.