When it comes to the public cloud, the majority of VPSs are used for websites, email and databases. They are often used as a stepping stone for customers that have outgrown shared web hosting services or require more custom configuration than these shared environments provide, but who don’t need the power or cost of a dedicated server. VPSs don’t just need to be used for website and hosting purposes, as with a dedicated server there are a great many uses for a VPS. In this series we’ll be looking at some of the ways a VPS can assist someone who works on the road.
If you are already a road warrior then you’ll know all about the issues of juggling all the tech you need to carry with you – phones, laptops, tablets, etc – but in addition to this, you also need to consider managing your data and work while traveling. Adding a VPS into this mix may not immediately make sense, but there are some handy features that they can bring to the table to help make life easier for any mobile worker.
VPS for the Mobile Worker
Firstly there’s a VPN. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) have been used by corporate businesses for years to allow remote workers to safely and securely access their private internal networks. If you are a remote worker then you are probably already using a VPN connection when connecting to wifi hotspots in hotels, restaurant, and airports, for example. If not then you really should be, as even aside from the problems raised by the recent wifi KRACK attack public wifi networks should be viewed with suspicion from a security perspective. While there are free VPN services out there they generally only support the out-of-date and unsecure PPTP VPN services, and these days you really need to be using IPSEC or OpenVPN for security. The monthly cost of these services alone come to a large chunk of the monthly cost of a basic VPS.
If you want to work across multiple devices there’s the added fun of getting your files and contacts copied between devices. Services like Dropbox can help with synchronizing your files, although the free accounts probably don’t offer quite enough space for keeping track of all the files you need to be working on at a time. Nextcloud is a service that can be installed to your VPS that not only synchronizes files, but can also accommodate calendars and contacts, edit files through your web browser, and even perform version tracking of your files allowing you to restore previous versions of files should a file become corrupted or mistakenly damaged. Nextcloud split out from the ownCloud project some years back, and just keeps improving. OwnCloud have been an invaluable part of my mobile workflow for years.
Finally, another handy use for a VPS is as a remote workstation. When out and about you may not always want to carry a laptop, but may need to work on something that requires full computer functionality that you can’t achieve with a phone or tablet. Configuring a desktop environment on your VPS can allow you to have a remotely accessible computer desktop solution that you can access using your phone, tablet or a computer at a friend’s house or internet cafe. This allows your files and work to stay securely on your VPS while you are able to work on them from a remote location.
So there you go – some ideas for uses for a VPS to assist you as a road warrior worker. Over the coming weeks we’ll be looking at how to get these various technologies configured on a Linux based VPS on our public cloud.
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