As a Product Designer with a deep interest in technology, I am constantly looking for ways to optimize my digital workflow. Over the years, I’ve accumulated a significant amount of data, some of which was stored on outdated optical media like CDs and DVDs. To ensure the safety of these files and streamline my access to them, I embarked on a journey that involved utilizing Dropbox for my PC files, upgrading to a 6TB hard drive for optical media backups, and eventually, discovering the power of OpenVPN to access my network and data remotely. In this blog post, I’ll walk you through my experience and share how OpenVPN became a valuable tool in my digital arsenal.
Backing Up Optical Media
Optical storage like CDs and DVDs may have served us well in the past, but they have limitations in terms of capacity and convenience. Recognizing the need for a more efficient storage solution, I invested in a spacious 6TB hard drive to back up all my optical media. This move not only freed up physical space but also allowed me to access these files more conveniently.
Going beyond my Home Network
Having the 6TB hard drive was great, but I wanted the ability to access my data from anywhere, not just within my home network. This led me to explore remote access solutions.
I had previously used OpenVPN to expose a web server behind a CGNAT network. It dawned on me that OpenVPN could also be the solution to accessing my home network remotely. It’s free, open-source, and, most importantly, it provides a secure connection to my network.
To get started, I launched a Virtual Machine running Debian. The installation process of OpenVPN was straightforward using the built-in wizard.
Once OpenVPN was installed, I immediately proceeded to create the client file, necessary for remote access. This file contains the configuration information required for a secure connection to my home network.
Accessing my Network Remotely
With my client file in hand, I was able to establish a secure connection to my home network. This gave me the ability to access all the mapped network locations, including my 6TB hard drive, from anywhere with an internet connection. I’ve successfully run the OpenVPN client on multiple platforms, including MacOS, Android, and Windows.
Additionally, using the IP address of my network from Argentina, I was able to enable access to services that are only available in my country, such as Movistar TV and other geo-restricted resources when abroad.
In my quest to optimize my digital workflow, I found that OpenVPN was the missing piece of the puzzle. It allowed me to access my home network and all of its resources, including my optical media backups, from anywhere in the world. This solution is not only free but also straightforward to set up, requiring only a PC with the storage attached.
In a future post I’ll tell you how accessing my home network also allowed me to deploy apps on my home server from anywhere.