Remote access: The ability to log onto a network from a distant location. Generally, this implies a computer, a modem, and some remote access software to connect to the network.We live in and increasingly mobile society. We travel more for work, personal pleasure and in some cases we even have jobs where we are expected to work from home. Obviously there are heaps of advantages to this kind of mobile lifestyle, but there are also some challenges. The challenge we want to discuss here is maintaining consistent, secure access to your information.There are a few ways that you can get access to information from remote servers and personal computers. All of them have their advantages and disadvantages. What we all want to accomplish is access to information where and when we need it. Here are some ways you can get access to your information remotely;· Put the information into your own website that has a secure log-in· Get access through a VPN (virtual private network) on the Internet· Get some Remote access software that hooks you up to your personal PC· Use remote control software for managing a PC from another PC· Keep your data on a secure third party serverThere are pro’s and con’s to all of the different methods above. Here are some of the considerations;· Is your data secure?· Is the software you are using to get to your data quick to install on a remote PC?· Is the PC where the data is stored always hooked to the internet?· Does your PC have firewall protection to prevent unwanted access?· Is your PC always powered up and ready to go?· Does anyone else have access to your PC that could turn it off and cause you to loose access?· Is your PC or server reliable and always working?· Is there someone available to reboot your PC or server if it goes down?· Do you know how to set up and maintain your own VPN?The above information is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather to give you an idea of some of the issues you face when trying to maintain reliable remote access to your information. As you can see there are a variety of problems that can occur. The biggest single issue is the availability and condition of the PC that stores the data. The challenge is to find a method that assures your access to your information, no matter what!Lots of things can cause your PC to be offline. Your PC may crash and no one is there to re-boot it. Your internet access could go down and you have no way to get the link going again remotely. Someone with physical access to your PC could interfere with it and then not be available to fix it. You could make administrator changes to your PC that could cause your remote access to fail. You can probably add to this list without too much trouble.There are lots of reasons for needing to have mobile access to information. The key thing is that when you need it, you need it. You really want to be able to rely on your information being at your fingertips. If you need to do a presentation and your presentation is not available it can be devastating. If you are working to a deadline and you can’t get access to critical documents or data, what do you do?What makes telecommuting and mobile work possible is secure, reliable and efficient access to the people you work with and the data you require to do your job. If your access is sporadic, then your results are as well, aren’t they? So how do you assure access and avoid problems?An ideal solution is to store your information on a hosted, secure, robust server that is looked after by professionals that are operating from a business strength facility with redundant services and 24 hour care. In this scenario there are many added advantages;· Your data is always online· Data is consistently and frequently backed-up.· You are using a powerful business strength server· You don’t need your own servers, firewalls, etc.· The links to the Internet are normally redundant and therefore seldom down.· You are not as reliant on technical people.· You don’t face resource problems from lack of disk space or processing power.· Such facilities generally have good virus protection.· Normally you can get a copy of your data back-up at any time.· The facility is typically ‘on the fly’ scalable to your requirements.· The cost and risk is generally much less than buying and operating your own infrastructure.Particularly where a small organization or an individual is involved, the simplest solution is always the best. Why take on the risk of operating your own facilities when you can easily outsource the service for less money and far less hassle? It leaves you time to do what you do best!