When working away from the office, it is hard to access shared folders, printers and other shared resources as those are meant to be used within a private network. The solution to this is to use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
What is it
A VPN allows users to securely access a private network via the Internet. Once connected to the VPN, all local shared resources can be accessed as though the user is in the office in person. A VPN also provides protection for the traveling employee since all data is encrypted before transmission when using the VPN. Therefore, there is no need to worry about insecure public WIFI when on the road.
How does it work
First, a VPN server must be configured. Once that’s done, users should be able to connect to this VPN server when they are out of the office. They need to use a VPN client to make a connection to this VPN server. Once a VPN connection has been successfully made, the users’ computers are now considered part of the private network as though they are in the office in person.
Types of VPN
The above describes a remote access VPN which allows a remote employee to work as though he or she is in the office. Nowadays the remote employee just connects to the VPN server using whatever free or public WIFI he or she can find. Before the wide availability of WIFI hotspots, the employee would have had to use a modem to dial into a modem attached to the VPN server.
Another type is called the site to site VPN. Site here refers to a private network in a specific geographical location. When you have 2 branches of your company located far from each other, it does not make sense to lay cables to hook up the 2 private networks. With site to site VPN, each branch will have their own Internet access and then a VPN connection is used to link the 2 sites. Now you have a huge private network that spans a large geographical distance.