Geek Friday: Sharing Mac Files Over VPN by IP Number

It sort of annoys me that people think it is totally acceptable to provide a virtual private network (VPN) solution without any name service.  I sometimes think that router makers and other providers still have their calendars set on 1995.  Surely, we can do better!

Interestingly, Microsoft server technology seems to be ahead of the router guys on this count.  You can set up a router to direct VPN traffic to a 2008 R2 server, and have it dish out the names for you.  Unfortunately, I have a client who is moving away from Microsoft and towards Apple products.  That means using the router, which does not resolve the names for you.

However, it is what it is.  Certainly, one way to deal with it would be to modify the HOSTS file.  That would be the antiquated way to do it.

An interesting possibility is to use LogMeIn, which touts the ability to create a virtual network of computers.  I’ve not tried it, and it is an expensive solution if VPN is all you need.  If you need remote control for maintenance as well, it might work, but I think you have to purchase Central to get it working correctly if you are a tech (you don’t want to give out your tech login, for example).

Of course, in the end you can still use the IP address.  How to do that if you cannot find the server?  It turns out that you can type it directly into the Connect to Server dialog.  See About.com’s article “File Sharing With OS X: Share Windows XP Files With OS X 10.5” for more details.  It will work for a Mac server to running SMB.

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