Ultimate home support system

When I last blogged about the Ultimate USB drive toolkit I mentioned that I would go further into why you’d need WinSCP.

Let’s start with a word that all techy types should know well: Server. If you don’t have one at home then you should think about it. I have a couple. Media servers for the TV’s, FTP, SSH, mail, video streaming, DNS, DHCP, etc. (A lot of acronyms there but I’ll get into them). Think of a server just like a waiter. You request something and it gives it to you. However, to really visualize it you have to think about having multiple waitors and they only serve one thing and do it well. Like sitting at your table and you request water and a waitor brings water. You flag down a different waitor for main dishes and he delivers that.

So, how does all this server stuff help you when you’re at a client’s house? That’s the cool part. I can get to my tools from
anywhere in the world that has an internet connection. You just need 2 basic services. HTTP (web server) and FTP (file transfer). You can do these with Windows or Mac but I’d suggest getting an old useless computer that has a network card and installing Linux on it. Almost all come with Apache for a http server and whatever ftp software you can select with your Linux distribution.

Configuring a web server is a little beyond the scope of this article but once again there are web servers for Mac and Windows if you have a computer that’s always on at home. Point these programs to a specific folder on your computer that you can drop files into. Then you can grab these files outside of your house.

Now, how do you reach these files from outside of your house? Most routers and even your stand alone PC can use Dynamic
Domain Naming System (i.e.: DDNS). If you are paying extra for a static IP address you don’t need to know anything about this stuff. If you don’t know what those words mean then you need this. Go to www.dyndns.org. There you will learn how to get a name that you can type in from anywhere and it will get information from your PC on where you are in order to point to you. Follow your router’s manual and the website to configure this properly because I’ve worked with quite a few routers and they vary but only very little. Now, YOU’RE SET!

Anytime you need anything you can reach into your computer at home. Even grab files off your PC at home that you forgot.
Based on the speed of the other person’s internet you can even download a whole CD image and burn it in no time.

As a disclaimer: These solutions are not encrypted thus not very secure for extremely private or sensitive data. For that you
will probably want to setup OpenSSH on the Linux server and reach it remotely through WinSCP or a free download called Putty that works on most every OS.

Good luck and give me any ideas you have.

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