Sounds weird but this is a "Real" Question.
I am hoping someone can offer some suggestions to help in an unusual situation.
I have 4 people who use a huge number of document files for two different programs. Both programs need to use the same files but for different reasons for these 4 people.
Due to recent changes in ISP rules, we are no longer able to use network drive mapping as we have been. Connecting by VPN works fine for everything except mapping a network drive to the remote folder on the server. COX has nor joined Comcast and many others in blocking port 445 for HOME internet users. If they pay for business Internet, the problem immediately disappears so we pretty much narrowed it down very fast with that one fact.
Regardless of the reason, the vendors on the main program which is a SQL database said that many of their other users had switched to using CLOUD hosting to solve this problem. This is due to the fact that their SQL relational database requires a fixed drive letter as a reference point. When using the program to look up something it is always referenced by storage at a mapped network drive. As soon as these people go home, they no longer have access to a Mapped drive on a business Server.
The only thing that changed was all the ISP’s where this occurred were admitting to blocking port 445
The Cloud service they recommend has a solution for this and does allow me to map a drive letter to their CLOUD storage which works very well for that program’s needs. Even though CLOUD access is “streaming” files from beginning to end, it is fast enough for that program as it deals with files on a one by one basis. . While these are all small files, there are over 50,000 in total number and no way to make it any less. It will actually be more over time. But in size, it is only about 10gb.
These same people also need to be able to use these same files as documents to be uploaded to a website. They need to be able to upload several files at a time which requires a long delay to get them streamed first to their local drive before they can upload it to the Website. We quickly found out that if they tried to go direct from the CLOUD drive to the website, it failed as soon as they filled up the buffers since the files were in their system yet to upload, they were still in the stream coming down.
One possibility I considered is to give each of the 4 people a full “seed” copy of all the files and keep it Synced to the CLOUD copy at all times. They would use the local copy for their website uploads and the CLOUD copy (which CAN be mapped as a drive letter) to do the work needed for the Program that must have a Drive Letter.
Interestingly enough, the Server that hosts the SQL database program has no problem at all running over the VPN because port 445 is not needed. Only Windows requires it for SMB protocols in Drive mapping but SQL can run without the mapped drive, You just have no access to the documents referred to which you pull up a record.
But I can see all kinds of problems in Synchronization that could well cause a disaster at some point, On the good side, If it works, I would have 4 off-site back-up copies of the entire data drive should something happen to it at the CLOUD location.
If I was going to even try this at all, I need a way to create a desktop display showing the total size, number of folders and number of files along with a baseline showing the largest size the CLOUD drive been along with the largest number of files and folders.
This would provide an easy way for each to monitor their CLOUD drive compared to their corresponding local folder. A large discrepancy in anything would indicate a problem so it could be resolved before it was a disaster.
While I am sure there has to be a better way, the only one that I have proven will work is for each person to pay for business Internet at Home. Then their ISP will remove the port 445 block and we can go back to the normal networked drive access over a VPN.
I am hoping someone here has run into something similar and may know another way around this. The port 445 block was obviously to prevent “work from home” rather than the proclaimed “additional security from Internet Worms” as that is what is does best at.
I look forward to seeing if anyone knows a better way to give both of these programs what they need. I can tell you for 100% certain that the vendor of the software has already said they have no plans for making changes to their literal requirements for a common mapped drive letter for all users. The “path” to document is coded into their software and they are not going to change it.
They are not concerned about the fact we need to use those same documents at all the same workstations to do a task unrelated to their own.
Currently, the users are all coming up with various ways to beat the problem by copying what they think they might need into various folders all over their laptops and it is creating disaster for who has the most current copy of any file as well as where did they happen to put it.