Set up your office network for telecommuting

Want to set up your small business's office network so your employees can telecommute? You'll need a VPN.

By Paul Venezia, PC World |  Networking, telecommuting, VPN

When shopping for a VPN, you may find that some products offer several types of VPN connectivity options in a single device. You may also find that some vendors have their own VPN type, such as QuickVPN, that is incompatible with other VPN standards. While these solutions may work, they can be difficult to maintain later on, and they're often not as compatible with as many different client devices, such as different versions of PC and mobile OSs. If you're interested in using one of these proprietary VPN solutions, make sure that it supports all the operating systems you plan on using.

Some devices offer both IPSec and SSL VPN options, while others are strictly SSL or strictly IPSec. If your business's budget permits, you're better off purchasing a device that provides both, as this will allow a larger variety of remote device types to connect to the network. If all you're worried about is PCs and Mac computers, then going with just SSL or just IPSec is fine, provided that the vendor supports all the operating system versions you run.

In some cases, this VPN device may be had for under $200, but spending a little more on a more capable solution will likely benefit you in the long run, and potentially reduce the potential for future equipment failure that can take out your network.


One of the most important details in setting up a VPN is to ensure that your Internet connection has a static IP address. Many business-class cable and DSL connections use dynamic addressing, which means that the IP address of your Internet connection changes occasionally. When that IP address changes, your remote users won't know what the new address is, and thus won't be able to connect. Most business-class cable and DSL providers have options for a static IP address; this will ensure that your remote users will always be able to connect to your network. Be sure to request this option from your provider before you go any further with your VPN plans. At the same time, make sure that you have sufficient upstream bandwidth to support remote users. If you have a slow upload speed, it will significantly impact the network speed seen by remote users.

You may find that your chosen device also functions as a firewall. If you already have a firewall, you can still use this device, but you may have a few extra issues to deal with. For instance, if you have a single static IP address on a business-class Internet connection, the VPN device will have to be connected behind the existing firewall and the setup becomes far more complex. However, if your chosen VPN device's firewall is sufficiently capable, you may find it better to use that firewall instead--this would save you the hassle of connecting your VPN behind your existing firewall.

Originally published on PC World |  Click here to read the original story.
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