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So for school programming classes, I've been using a USB flash drive to store all my stuff including my personal projects that I've put several hours into. So today I thought, if I lost my flash drive, I'd lose everything that I've worked for. So I was wondering, what if I could leave all my files alone on my computer and access them from anywhere WITHOUT administrative privileges and with a portable program that I can put on my flash drive? What would be the best way to achieve this, VPN, FTP, etc?

Also, if possible, could these files be allocated to the system the same way a flash drive has its own letter? (E:)

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  • Cloud storage is the modern way to go for safe backup/ Connecting at distance to your own computer nowadays is mostly used to remote access software licences you cannot share on more than a specific one computer.
    – Jonathan
    Jan 30, 2017 at 8:57

2 Answers 2

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You can use VNC by employ for example UltraVNC for such tasks, all you need vncviewer.exe, and encryption keys. ( Be sure you will use on home computer AES encryption over extra plugin to be safe. ) You would also need either a static IP at home or use some Dynamic DNS provider to be able to connect to your home's IP where on your router you need to forward VNC port to computer you want to access (Do not use default VNC port for security reason, choose some in higher range of TCP ports). UltraVNC supports file transfer, so you can move files back and forth but you can't mount home's drive as it happens with flash drive.

If the only thing you need - is to transfer files, you might use FTP server at home, the simplest one probably is FileZilla FTP server, but requirement would be the same as VNC (use encryption, static IP or Dynamic DNS, port forwarding.)

FTP is kinda spoiled protocol that need multiple ports to be open, it can work in two modes, one it when it use 21 port for connection and port 20 for data, port 21 need to be forwarded to you PC and router should have support for FTP assistance. Better solution is to use passive FTP mode, but you would need to open and forward port 21 and some additional range or ports (60000-60100 for example).
My advise is do not use default ports since it always scanned by a strange people. Second, use FTPS (encrypted connections) to prevent password leak. As a FTP client you can use portable WinSCP or just use windows explorer to that.

One more (probably the easiest) way is to use file synchronization by using for example syncthing in portable mode on a flash drive and standalone installation at home. This way you don't need to mess up with port forwarding at home and Dynamic DNS. Both computers would talk over external relay and can find each other without your assistance. All connections there encrypted so no privacy leak to any third party providers.
On a flash drive you can use a simple bat file to automate correct starting syncthing

@echo off
%~d0
cd "%~d0%~p0"
IF %ERRORLEVEL%==0 GOTO PATH_IS_OK
exit
:PATH_IS_OK

rem set AppData=D:\Data\syncthing\
set AppData=%~d0%~p0
set LocalAppData=%AppData%
start "syncthing" /B /LOW syncthing.exe

Extra plus for this solution - you may setup file versioning in syncthing, so you may have multiple backups of your working files without spaming working directory.

BTW, most of k12 schools having pretty strict rules for outgoing connections, so it possible that your "outside" connections could be blocked.

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  • Thanks! I'll probably try syncthing and see if it doesn't mess up my Eclipse project files. Jan 30, 2017 at 12:09
  • So I'm at school and I work at 4 different computers every two days (I have 4 programming classes this year) and SyncThing is working great! Thank you! Jan 30, 2017 at 15:46
  • Im glad you find it helpful
    – Alex
    Jan 30, 2017 at 17:39
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Why do you need to leave the files in the school or some particular computer? How big are your files? Free cloud storage is easy to get, with automatic sync from your computer to the cloud. If you're worried about security you can encrypt automatically with tools like Boxcryptor

Google Drive 15GB free https://www.google.com/drive/

Microsoft OneDrive 5GB free storage https://onedrive.live.com/about/en-us/

pCloud. 20GB free cloud storage https://www.pcloud.com/

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  • Yes, these sites would fit my needs but first of all for Eclipse projects they mess up the file names so they would change .classpath to _classpath and thats really annoying and also I would need to install the program in order for it to be an actual folder that syncs automatically which I can't do. Jan 30, 2017 at 11:44
  • I see. Just to throw out another idea...I used to do poor-man's backup by zipping a folder and mailing it to myself every day. Google mail doesn't allow zip now. But you could take that idea...zip your folder and drag/drop it (after naming for date/time) to the browser based drag/drop that Google drive supports..i.e. drive.google.com/drive/my-drive after you setup a google drive for yourself. Better than your drag/drop to flash drive, since old copies saved too. You can "backup" at critical points in your work....Maybe don't even need to zip it.. They may support folder drag/drop. Jan 31, 2017 at 17:24

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