In testing times like these, when Covid-19 has the entire world holed-up at their homes, working from home has finally become a big reality and very crucial if any business has to run.
While some cannot work from home, many have the options to do so. All you need is an internet connection, a laptop or desktop, and probably you are set. However, each person’s work is different, and it depends on the nature of his business. While some can make do with emails and communication, others need to make presentations and alike. As for us writers and journalists, we can work from home pretty easily, provided we have a strong and reliable internet connection and the office servers are open to data sharing.
Most offices today have the option of VPNs to help people log on from home or remotely when they work from outdoors. However, smaller organisations do not have options like VPNs since they do not really need them or may not have the budgets. So whether you are a small setup or a big organisation, data needs to be shared for those who need to work remotely.
If you happen to own any Synology NAS in your business premises and need to share folders to those who need to work remotely, we show you how you can do it in a few simple steps.
What you need:
- Your boss’ approval!
- A Synology NAS.
- A reliable internet connection.
- A few minutes of your time.
Let’s take a small case scenario as an example. Let’s take ours at Stuff itself. Being a small setup, and a magazine that needs physical coordination on a daily basis between designers, illustrators, writers and the copy desk, it’s not easy to work remotely. Hence we never had a work from home policy, especially during the last week of the month. But with this sudden lockdown, we have no choice but to coordinate and work remotely. However, data from our file servers back at office needed to be accessed, and we don’t have a VPN installed. So how did we share our data folders over the internet without a static IP address, VPN or a cloud service? We built one using our Synology NAS, for free, and in a few minutes.
Get in, get started
Crank up your Synology NAS if you haven’t already. Log on to the Synology server using its IP address and make sure it is on the same network that holds your file/data server/folder and has an internet connection. We assume that your Synology NAS is already configured for basic use and has users and their passwords already in place.
Starting up External Access
Once logged in, click on the ‘Control Panel’ icon. Open up ‘External Access’ and you will find three tabs waiting for you to configure. As for now, all you need to configure is the DDNS tab and you are set.
Creating a personal cloud using Synology
Click on ‘Add’ under the ‘DDNS’ tab. You need to enable a DDNS service to access your Synology box from a remote location using the internet. A DDNS is a service that allows you to connect to your NAS via a third-party DNS service when you don’t have a static IP address from your service provider. From the ‘Service Provider’ list, choose ‘Synology’ – it's free and trusted too. Enter a unique ‘Hostname’ that will identify your NAS server on the cloud. Make sure it’s easy to remember for your users.
Once entered, you need to test the connection by clicking the ‘Test Connection’ button on the right. If you have already registered your Synology online, it will prompt you to log in the details on the next screen to test the connection. If successful, you will not see any error messages. Click ‘OK’ when done and head to create a user account for remote users. You can stick to the current users if you wish too.
Users, Folder Permissions
Lastly, you now need to share the folder your users need to the access from their homes. Go to the ‘Shared Folder’ option and give the relevant users the permissions they need. Head to ‘File Station’ and mount remote folders from your other file servers on you network so that your users can also access the same if required.
Log in remotely from PC, Mac
Now that your Synology server is set up with basic settings for remote access, all you need to do is ask your users to log on using a web browser. They simply need to key in ‘www.quickconnect.to’ on their browser and they will be asked for the server name, user name and their password. The next screen, after they log on, will be the Synology DSM user interface with just File Station available, and the folders that they have permissions for. Simply download the data required, work on it and upload it back using the File Station application.
Mapping drives remotely
You can also share your remote folders using WebDAV. Users can map the shared folders directly as a drive in their computers and access the remote server’s data as though they were in the same network. Head to packages, install WebDAV and enable the necessary ports to allow your users to access this server and save. Do note, the ports that you use should be free to use, opened at your router and firewalls, and also opened at your service provider’s end. Once that is done, your users can simply head to My Computer and map a remote drive using the server address.