I am trying to rescue the company I work for from the clutches of Dropbox.

What I want to be able to do is let my staff and some external parties access the shred folders on my desktop in the office from home and remote locations via the internet. I thought this was a VPN I needed but having signed up of a trial of a VPN I was told “we just hide your IP address” which I specifically said wasn’t the primary desire.

Anyway any thoughts? I just need to give people access to folders over the Internet without Dropbox, OneDrive,Google Drive or other similar cloud services.

  • You need to set up a VPN server within your workplace, not sign up for a VPN service. Windows and Linux servers offer VPN server services (for example), and most SME type routers can also provide VPN server/end-point capabilities. Since we have no idea what your company has, there's no better info to give out, and even if there was, company IT problems are off-topic for SU. Hope that helps. Voting to close. Nov 12, 2014 at 15:03
  • Yup just what I needed to know! Thankyou Techie007 Closing is fine!
    – MattLuka
    Nov 12, 2014 at 15:06

2 Answers 2


The answers given each seem to say “here is what you need to do: bla bla bla…” Lots of trees; might be hard to see the forest. You might find the following useful:

There are basically three technologies you might leverage to do what you want to do, which is allow authorized users to access Windows files which sit on “regular office computers” (not file servers) securely from “anywhere on the Internet.” Within each technology there are many many products, ranging from free to expensive, from already-installed-with-Windows to things requiring full time IT staff just to turn them on (did I hear someone say “SharePoint”?). Here is a list of the different technologies:

  1. Native Windows file sharing (called CIFS) over a VPN. Lots of information above. The key thing is that if your users will ever need to access files from unknown network environments (think: hotel Wi-Fi), you will need to hire a bodyguard to keep them from killing you when they return from their trip.

  2. WebDAV. This requires no VPN, and it uses HTTPS for transport, so it works as well as web-surfing does (that’s a LOT better than SMB, promise). But of course you need to configure the firewall to allow the office machine-with-files to be a web-server.

  3. SFTP (secure FTP) or even FTP over a VPN. Internet Explorer is an OK FTP client, and (s)ftp works over the Internet (!) -- but you don't exactly "access" the files, you transfer the files. If that's what your people need to do anyway, this might be the cheap-and-cheerful choice.

However, I believe that Dropbox is WebDAV-as-a-service. So if your users are used to and want the “web-folder” UX metaphor, they might find Windows file sharing (CIFS/SMB) too hard to do, SFTP too bare-bones, and WebDAV “just right.”

You can find lots of products by searching for CIFS/SMB, WebDAV, or SFTP.

In the Linux world there is an open-source implementation of SMB/CIFS called Samba. But you don’t care about Linux, I think.

  • One small thing: Your original answer keeps on referring to Windows native file sharing as SMB, when it is CIFS. Samba (SMB) is a protocol that emulates CIFS so non-windows users can connect to SMB shares. Corrected in my edit, but just wanted to clarify here as well. Nov 12, 2014 at 20:04

I use a Zyxel USG router which lets my users access the network via SSL VPN. It is relatively simple for the users to access and connect to the VPN by accessing the web interface and logging in. Since it is done through a web browser, they do not need to configure third party software. It comes down to a matter of budget and users. If you only need to have a few simultaneous connections, the lower end routers go for a few hundred USD. If you need dozens, you are going to spend thousands.

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