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Is a VPN connection required to view a computer's shares?

In other words, using my computer's WAN IP, Can I access its shares? And what port does this system use (so I know what to forward through my router). An example:

\\my.domain.com\c$

How can I do this?

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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

A VPN gets you "in" to someone elses network, once in, you appear to be any other computer on the network and can access Windows File shares via the bog standard local network ip addresses (just as if you were there locally).

If you want to access across the internet, you have to forward SMB - TCP port 445 from the router to the machine with the shares.

A full guide can be found on Microsoft KB 832017.

This being said, it is a VERY bad idea to do this and for security reasons, I would highly recommend against it. Instead, consider using other options including FTP, or if it is a few files, dropbox/(My affiliate link if you don't mind!) or similar solutions.

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I really wouldn't say that FTP with plain-text auth is better than SMB, which uses NTLMv2 and is much better integrated with the filesystem features. –  grawity May 17 '11 at 19:29
    
... @Grawity - it depends what you are trying to achieve... If you go back a few years, nearly all the Windows malware spread via SMB being available across the internet... and I have a public FTP with plain text as I need to access files from clients (diagnostic tools) and nothing sensitive.... you have to do it on a case by case basis. –  William Hilsum May 17 '11 at 19:36
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To forward SMB sessions over the internet it requires port 445 (SMB over TCP) and port 139 (NetBIOS session) if I recall correctly. Most ISPs will block these ports at their level however. This was a measure taken years ago to prevent worms from spreading over the internet.

Not only is this very insecure with all the services available today, but you can easily crank up the security by tunneling SMB over SSH.

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