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OS X - Operating System General OS operation information and support

Accessing drives remotely


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daniel2218

 
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Hello Mac Forum Users,

Apologies if this has already been discussed. I’ve been searching for an answer to this dilemma with no luck.

I’ve got an iMac 27” at my office but I travel with a MB Air. Most of my files are on an external drive that needs to stay in the office. The files are large enough that I’d prefer not to use iDisk or other cloud based storage options as my primary storage device. I’d also prefer not to have to deal with syncing folders from the primary storage device to iDisk.

With these parameters in mind, is there a way in OS X or a third party app to access that storage device remotely (i.e. have that device pop up on the desktop of my MB Air) as if I just plugged it in?

It seems like a simple request but I’ve had no luck so far. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Daniel
Seattle, WA
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DarkestRitual

 
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Apple Remote Desktop is your friend. You can run it in some iOS apps like "Sync my Mac" and involves set-up with port forwarding on your router, but can be done. Another round-a-bout way would be with TeamViewer, though you'd have to leave it open on your iMac.
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mrplow

 
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You can enable the ftp server that's built into the sharing features of OSX.
This allows you to log into a shared folder across the internet.

You need to know your external IP address to do that so a service like no-ip is handy for that.

Alternatively get a NAS drive that has this capabilty. That way your iMac doesn't even need leaving on.

Something else to consider is this.... when you access files remotely they are copied to your remote machine using the upstream connection of your home broadband. Depending on your upstream speed and the size of the file this could be a slow process.

The alternative, that's been alluded to before is to use something like TeamViewer or LogMeIN to remote control your iMac and access/edit the files that way.

There are several approaches to consider. All depends on what function you're performing with your files.

I know that a bit all over the place. happy to expand on any particular part

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DarkestRitual

 
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Haha, exactly. At least we're both here to help. I've got a remote set-up right now where while I am at work, I use my iPod to control my MacBook to manage torrents, ftp, and video encodes so that I can do the taxing CPU work when I'm not at home actually using my machine. Depends what you're going for! So, I guess the next step is tell us what you'd like to do!

Also, Mr. Plow, good call on the ftp capable NAS. I've got the WD My Book World yay for gigabit ethernet drives! It's got a built in ftp set up, but I found for what I need to do, I dig the
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daniel2218

 
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Thanks Mr Plow and Darkest, those are great suggestions. If I understand correctly, setting up an FTP server allows me to access the files, but I have to transfer them to my computer in order to open and use them. If that is correct, it means Iím going to have multiple versions of the same file in two locations (something Iím trying to avoid.).

Is it possible to open the file remotely? Meaning Ive got excel running on my MBAir, I open the file remotely modify it, save it, all with the file on my HD in the office?
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Your assumption with FTP is correct. The owness is on you to manage versioning. Again it depends what and how much your doing to decide if this is the way forward.
Once the FTP share is mounted in Finder you can effectively edit 'in-place', however if you lose your connection mid save you can find yourself in all sorts of problems with trying to recover your work.

Without sounding like a broken record, the 'best' solution can only be determined by a) your preference, b)what you are actually trying to achieve and c)knowing a bit more about the size and types of files you need to access/edit

If you're talking about editing big files 20mb+ (he says plucking a figure from the air) then the remote desktop solution/FTP/remote access to a NAS drive is the way to go.

If you're talking about Excel files, even hefty, spreadsheets, I'd definitely consider the DropBox route. You can set up DropBox to look at a location on your external hard disk.
That way you can edit a file anywhere. Even if you're offline, once you're back online the file is mirrored back to the iMac. Plus you have on online copy as a redundant backup.

Edit:
another option, not sure how feasible it is, is to take the external with you. Or get a 2.5" external and some sync/mirror software that will merge any changes back when you return to your iMac.

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daniel2218

 
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Great points, again. File sizes arenít that big (less than 2-3 megs), but they are spread out over a bunch of folders, so transferring them back and forth would be problematic.

Two questions:

Quote:
Once the FTP share is mounted in Finder you can effectively edit 'in-place', however if you lose your connection mid save you can find yourself in all sorts of problems with trying to recover your work.
I thought from the previous post that FTPíing meant transferring the files (by using Transit or some other application). But above you are saying that you can mount an FTP drive and the file stays put and accessed remotely?


Second, regarding Dropbox, I didnít know you can have it ďlookĒ at a part of your external drive. Is that some special configuring? I donít remember seeing that.

It sounds like one of these two options will probably work out. Thanks again.
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I realise my ramblings seemed a little conflicted re:ftp. Perhaps edit-in-place was stretching it. You can open the file, but that process effectively copies the file to the local machine and then copies it back as you save. So you're still at the mercy of the quality of your connection.

As far as folder selction for Dropbox goes you need the latest release candidate:
(12/15) - Release Candidate - 1.0.8 ę Dropbox Forums
You can also use symbolic links, search the dropbox forums for more info, but here are a few choice morsels:
Symlink Guide ę Dropbox Forums
Selective Synch with SymLink ę Dropbox Forums
SymbolicLinker
http://wiki.dropbox.com/DropboxAddons/DropboxFolderSync
http://wiki.dropbox.com/TipsAndTricks/SyncOtherFolders

External hard disk acquisition addict - but admitting the problem is the first step to a robust backup

Please use the reputation system if you think you've been helped - top right of this post
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daniel2218

 
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Thanks, Iíll check those out.

One thing that Iíve been reading about is the idea of setting up a VPN. I donít know enough about VPNís to know (a) if I OS X 10.6 (as opposed to 10.6 Server) is capable of hosting a VPN (not sure if thatís the correct phrase), and (b) even if I could set up a VPN whether that would accomplish what Iím trying to do. Any thoughts?

(FYI, I tried out two third-party solutions: LogMeInís Hamachi2 Mac Beta. I got it set up on both computers but for the life in me couldnít figure out how to actually see the drives/files on the host computer and their support for the beta is limited to non-existent at this point.

I also tried out ShareTool by yazsoft. I installed it on both computers but could never get the two machines to see each other. Iíve been working with their support but so far I havenít had any luck.)

Thanks, again!!! You guys are great.

Dan
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mrplow

 
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Quick post while on the move it's logmeins remote tool you want rather than Hamachi..

Install on both machines, then Sign in on the LogMeIn website to get remote access to your iMac from your MacBook or Vice-versa

External hard disk acquisition addict - but admitting the problem is the first step to a robust backup

Please use the reputation system if you think you've been helped - top right of this post
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daniel2218

 
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Sorry, I wasnít clear. Iíve got LogMeIn Pro2, but trying to screen share a 27 inch iMac on a 13 inch MBAir isnít the greatest experience (tough to do any work that way), so thatís why Iím going the remote drive access route (Hamachi). Any feedback on my previous postsí questions would be appreciated. Thanks.
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MDJCM

 
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Wouldn't DropBox be a much easier, free way to do this file syncing?

My friend uses this to keep a folder Synced between his work and home computer, and it can be accessed even when either computers are off.
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daniel2218

 
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The symblink is a solution but its not supported yet by dropbox. There have been reports of syncing problems and possible data loss. I’m not quite ready to commit to that solution.

Any thoughts on the VPN solution Mr. Plow?
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mrplow

 
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The VPN solution is ok but again unless you copy the file over and then copy back you'll still risk corruption if you try to edit in place.

I still favour:
1. Dropbox
2. Remote desktop (you can drop the resolution to match the client)
3. A USB external drive to take the files with you.
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