One service that SBS 2008 provides for users is a secure place to store files. Both web sites and file shares are provided by default to assist with this.
Enabling collaboration on documents, where multiple people will want to read or update a file is best delivered using the CompanyWeb site. The CompanyWeb site is the internal web site and it is built on Windows SharePoint Services technologies.
In this section, I will explore:
- File management aspects of CompanyWeb
- Searching across the network for information
- User file recovery
Internal Web Site Access
SBS 2008 provides an intranet for sharing information. This site is called the CompanyWeb and can be accessed internally by visiting http://companyweb. To access it remotely, click on the Internal Web Site button that will open up the URL https://remote.yourdomain.co.uk:987. It is important that you note the full URL with :987 on the end, otherwise you will not see your CompanyWeb.
CompanyWeb, in its simplest form, is a little like a file share, but has considerably more functionality such as the ability to store more than just files, be accessible over the Internet and your local network, host applications, and much more.
For file management, it enables flow control such as document check-in and check-out for locking of updates and an approval process for those updates. It can also inform users when changes have taken place, so that they do not need to check on the web site as it will tell them. Finally, it can enable multiple people to work on a document and it will arbitrate the updates so the owner can see all the comments and changes.
While we are looking at CompanyWeb from a file management perspective, it is worth pointing out that any Windows SharePoint Services site also has the capability to run surveys, provide groups, web-based calendars, run web-based applications that are built on top of the SharePoint services, host blog and wiki pages, and perform as your fax center.
In looking at file management, I will briefly explain how to:
- Upload a document via the web interface
- Add a document via email attachment
- Edit a document stored in CompanyWeb
- Check Out/In a document
- Recover a deleted document
Navigate to http://CompanyWeb in your browser and then to the Shared Documents section.
You can create other document libraries by clicking on Site Actions in the righthand corner of the screen and then selecting Create.
From here, you can upload documents in three different ways. You can upload single or multiple documents from the Upload menu.
If you chose this option, you will be prompted to Browse for a single file and then click on OK to upload the file.
If you chose Upload Multiple Documents from the menu or the Upload Document screen, you will be presented with the multiple upload tool. Navigate to the folder with the files you wish to upload, check the items, and click OK to start the upload.
The final mechanism to load documents is to choose to Open with Windows Explorer from the Actions menu. This will open an Explorer window that you can then copy and paste into as if you had two local folders open on your computer.
Uploading using email
I know this might sound a little strange, but the process of emailing documents backwards and forwards between people, for ideas and changes, can make "keeping up to date" very confusing for everyone. Using CompanyWeb in this way enables each user to update their copy of the document and then merge them all together so the differences can be accepted or rejected by the owner.
To upload a document via email, create a new email in Outlook and attach a document as per normal. Then, go to the Insert tab and click on the small arrow on the bottom right of the Include section.
In the task pane that opens on the righthand side, change the Attachment Options to Shared attachments and type http://CompanyWeb into the box labeled Create Document Workspace at:.
This will create the additional text in the mail and include a link to the site that was created under CompanyWeb. This site is secured so that only the people on the To line and the person who sent it have access.
Send the email, and the attachment will be loaded to the special site. Each user can open the attachment as per normal, save it to their hard disk, and edit the document. The user can make as many changes as they like and finally, save the updates to the CompanyWeb site. If their changes are to an earlier version, they will be asked to either overwrite or merge the changes.
The following sample shows the writing from Molly and Lizzy in two different colors so that the document owner can read and consider all the changes and then accept all or some of them.
Opening documents and Checking Out and In
Once you have documents stored on the CompanyWeb site, you can open them by simply clicking on the links. You will be prompted if you want to open a Read Only copy or Edit the document. Click OK once you have selected the right option.
This simple mechanism is fine where there is no control, but you might want to ensure that no one else can modify the document while you are doing so. In the previous section, I showed the conflict resolution process, but this can be avoided by individuals checking documents in and out. When a document is checked out, you can only view the document unless you are the person who checked it out, in which case you can edit it.
To check a document out, hover over the document and click on the downward arrow that appears on the right of the filename. A menu will appear and you can select Check Out from that menu.
You can then edit the document while others cannot. Once you are finished, you need to check the document back in. This can be done from Word or back on the web site on the same drop-down menu where you checked it out.
Recovering a deleted document in CompanyWeb
If you delete a document in CompanyWeb, there is a recycle bin to recover documents from. On almost all lefthand navigation panes is the Recycle Bin link. Click this and you will be asked to select the documents to recover and then click on Restore Selection.
Searching for information
You can search for any file, email, calendar appointment, or document stored on your hard disk with SBS 2008 and Windows Vista or Windows XP and Windows Search. Just as with the email search facility, you can also search for any file, or the contents of any file on both the CompanyWeb site and on your computer.
To search on CompanyWeb, type the key words that you are interested in into the search box in the top right corner and then click on the magnifying glass.
This will then display you a varied set of results as you can see in the following example.
If you are using Vista, you can type a search into the Start menu or select Search from the Start menu and again type the key words you are looking for in the top right corner. The Windows search will search your files, emails, calendar and contacts, and browser history to find a list of matches for you.
You can get the latest version of Desktop Search for Windows Vista and Windows XP by following http://davidoverton.com/r.ashx?1K.
User file recovery
We have already covered how you recover deleted emails and documents in CompanyWeb, but users need something a little more sophisticated with file recovery on their desktop.
Generally, when an administrator is asked to recover a file for a user, it is either because they have just deleted it and it is not in the recycle bin or they still have the file, but it has become corrupt or they wish to undo changes made over the last day or two. When you turn on folder redirection or when you are using Windows Vista, users get the ability to roll back time to a version of the file or folder that was copied over the previous few days. This means that not only can we undelete files from the recycle bin, but we can revert back to an earlier copy of a file that has not been deleted from 3-7 days previous without needing to access the backups.
If the file has been deleted, we can look into the folder from an earlier time snap-shot as opposed to just the still existing files.
To access this facility, right-click on the folder for which you want to get an earlier version and select Properties. Now, move to the Previous Versions tab. You can now Open the folder to view, as is shown on the right below, Copy the folder to a new location, or Revert the folder to the selected version, overwriting the current files.
Now that the client computers are configured to work with SBS 2008, you need to check that the remote access tools are working. These are:
- Remote Web Workplace
- Outlook Web Access
- Internal Web Site Access
- Connecting to a PC on the SBS 2008 LAN
- Connecting via a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Remote Web Workplace, remote email, and intranet access
The Remote Web Workplace is the primary location to use to access computers and services inside your SBS 2008 network when you are not yourself connected to it. To access the site, open your browser and go to https://remote.yourdomain.co.uk/remote.
If you forget the /remote from the URL, you will get a 403 – Forbidden: Access is denied error.
You will be presented with a sign-in screen where you enter your user name and password.
Once you are through the login screen, you will see options for the provided three sections and a number of links.
Customizing Remote Web Workplace
You can customize the information that is present on the Welcome screen of the Remote Web Workplace, including the links shown, the background bitmaps, and company icons.
Two of the links shown on the Welcome Page have a URL that starts with https://sites, which will not work from the Internet, so these will need to be changed. To do this, go to the Shares Folders and Web Sites tab and select Web Sites.
Click on the View site properties button in the righthand task pane and navigate to the Home page links section. From here, you can choose what is displayed on the front page, removing options if desired. To alter the URLs of the links, click on the Manage links… button.
The Remote Web Workplace Link List Properties window will open. On the General page, you can enable or disable links. On the Permissions page, you can control who can access what from the site. The page that we need to change is the Organization links where the top two links need changing.
Select Using Remote Web and click on Remove and then How do I use Outlook Anywhere and then click on Remove again. Add the following information by completing the Link description and Link address where you replace yourdomain.co.uk with your correct domain name.
Using Remote Web Workplace
How do I use Outlook Anywhere
You can change the other settings in this page, such as the name of the Administration links section, or even add in a link to my blog at http://davidoverton.com/blogs/doverton. Click on OK once you have completed these changes.
To change the Organization's name on the home page or to add a logo, go to the Customization section and change the details here. Note that the logos and backgrounds are stored in C:Program FilesWindows Small Business ServerBinWebappsRemoteImages, so any file will need to be copied here before you can choose it by clicking on the Choose button.
Close the dialog box by clicking OK.
Outlook Web Access
SBS 2008 offers both web-based access to your email account and access from Outlook 2003 and 2007 even when you are not connected to your SBS 2008 network, such as when you are using a wireless LAN at home or while travelling.
To access the web-based email, click on the Check E-Mail button from Remote Web Workplace, which will open up a window to https://remote.yourdomain.co.uk/owa. From here, you can access your email, calendar, and contacts as well as send new emails and search for information.
Outlook Mobile Access via ActiveSync or Windows Mobile phones
Users can now also use one of the many phones with Windows Mobile or that supports the ActiveSync protocol to read and respond to emails, check their calendar, and have a single copy of their contacts. Setting up a user on a mobile phone is as simple as knowing their email address, username, and password. On older Windows Mobile phones, they will also need to know the remote access address, which would be remote.yourdomain.co.uk. That is it!
Connecting to a PC on the SBS 2008 LAN
Sometimes, you need to sit at your PC in the Office, even though you are not there. This can be especially useful if there is an application or data on that machine that you cannot access any other way. SBS 2008 can enable access to the PCs running within the SBS 2008 network remotely. This can also be used by administrators to access the server console remotely. By default, you have access to your own PC although you can configure which PCs you have access to in the Network tab inside Windows SBS Console.
To connect to a PC, click on the Connect to a computer button in the Remote Web Workplace. This will produce a list of computers that you can connect to. Select one and click on Connect.
You will then be asked if you want to confirm the connection and if so, if you want your clipboard (cut, copy, and paste functionality between the remote machine and your local machine) to be enabled as well as the remote machine being able to print to any locally attached printers. I normally keep both these checked and then click on Connect.
Finally, you will be asked for your username and password again. If you check the Remember my credentials box, then you will not need to enter them again. Click OK to start the session.
It is likely that the connected session will take over your whole screen. If you look at the screen, you should have a small tab area with the name of the computer that you have connected to and window minimize and close buttons on the righthand side. Use the machine and when finished, either log out from the Start menu or hit the cross button to close the window.
Connecting via a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
Sometimes, even with all the options listed above, you need to connect your PC to the network as if it were physically there. This is delivered using a Virtual Private Network, which creates a secure connection to your work network.
The performance of this link is limited by the speed of both your local Internet connection and that of your SBS 2008. Don't expect the same performance as if you were literally in the office; removing background pictures and unnecessary user interface tools, such as the Sidebar will improve the situation.
The Settings for a VPN can either be configured on each Windows client PC or you can create a downloadable tool that many users can run, which will provide the settings for them. In either case, you must have enabled the VPN in the network settings and configured the user to be able to access them. Once you have done so, the user will connect to remote.yourdomain.co.uk with just their username, domain name, and password.
CompanyWeb will provide a fantastic centralized store for documents and team working and should reduce the "back and forth" email trails. Finally, your users should be able to work just as productively whether they are in or out of the office.
The final step is to ensure that users remember to use these tools. The welcome email that is sent to each user is a good start. However, if you are not a technologist yourself, remember to use a Small Business Specialist Community Microsoft partner to learn much more and get the most out of your SBS 2008 system.