mounting a drive over VPN

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by ZilogZ80, Dec 16, 2010.

  1. ZilogZ80 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 5, 2010
    I got a Draytek Vigor 2820Vn router yesterday that has VPN built in. I am currently using PPTP on my iPhone & iPad to VNC to an XP machine on the LAN which works great.

    However when trying to access my main work folder on my iMac remotely (by mounting as an AFP share from Finder) it is incredibly slow - everytime I click the scroll bar in the Finder window it takes approx 15s to scroll the window. Obviously I am doing something wrong! Here are my thoughts:

    1. Would L2TP or IPSec be somehow faster than PPTP? I tried briefly to connect to the VPN from my iPhone via IPSec but was unable which is why I went with PPTP.

    2. Is the fact that I am not running Snow Leopard Server an issue (i.e. my iMac is expecting the remote machine to be local so somehow is not serving the files as efficiently as possible)? Is a dedicated server running SLS what I really need for this purpose?

    3. I have read about a program called BlueHarvest that deletes unnecessary files from directories that are being served. Would using this be a good idea? Or is there something else/better?

    4. Is AFP entirely the wrong way to go, if so would I be better connecting via FTP for this purpose? I do not necessarily want to work on the files over the VPN as some are very large (i.e. I just want to grab them then re-upload them after working on them) although that would be handy for some smaller files e.g. Word/Excel

    The whole subject of VPN & servers is new to me and while I am slowly unraveling some of the mysteries any help would be much appreciated!
  2. pismobrat macrumors regular

    Aug 13, 2007

    I have to say that you are not doing anything wrong.

    The initial challange is going to be with the internet connection at the source where you are hosting your files.

    Most home and business in North America don't have a great speeds in the upload catagory. At home, I have a connection that does 28Mb/s Down and 1Mb/s Up.

    Lets say your connection is similar to mine.

    - If your upspeed is 1Mb/s, a VPN connection will take roughly 8% of your existing traffic using the live VPN tunnel

    Lets talk VPN

    - PPTP, despite its age - is considered more lightweight than L2TP/IPSec
    - PPTP can resend TCP/IP Packets if you are having network issues
    - L2TP can be considered faster - due to the use of UDP, but its speed is only enherint to the type of encryption you are use. More encryption = more slow and overhead
    - For all intents, stick with PPTP - easier to configure.

    At work, I have three WAN ports active on my SonicWALL, one of our main pipes has a pipe of 25Mb/s Down and 7Mb/s Up.

    - This line is dedicated to VPN/Terminal Server/Mail traffic
    - When I connect from my home network to the work network, even with the hosted Up speed, I do get the odd delays in using AFP,SMB, or NFS when I am browsing through network folders from a MAC or PC - I generally find the PC faster browsing a PC network.
    - If I have to use VPN on one of the other WAN connections with a 1Mb/s up speed, its slow and the experience is like you discribe. But using the primary with 25/7 is a HUGE improvement for all VPN related work I do
    - The slowness can be atributed to a couple of things - when your computer tries to determine what the types of files being viewed, discription and the infernal thumbnail views.
    - So what do I do? Turn of thumbnail viewing! that helps imensly, do this on a windows or apple machine and you will see vpn file browsing become faster.

    Here is an article from another macrumors posting that might give you a more indepth look on AFP vs other transfer protocals.

    You could also upgrade your internet connection where the server is hosted. The key to get better performance from a remote location to the hosted location is to have a higher upstream speed. The business package at work I use is ~ 300 CDN a month.

    Lets recap to your questions:

    1) Stick with PPTP
    2) Server OS vs Desktop OS, doesn't matter at this level
    3) An app to clean up stray/junk files isn't a bad thing, I'd recommend disabling "Show icon preview" in the view menu of your remote mac. And view by List to streamline traffic as much as possible
    4) AFP, wrong to use? not so much. You'd be splitting hairs to use NFS or SMB. You do raise a good one about FTP, IMO - VPN is easier for navigating, FTP just adds another application to use and another service to setup.

    Hope this helps
  3. ZilogZ80 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Aug 5, 2010
    I am in the UK and my connection at work is only 6Mb/0.5Mb! It is a small business and a faster connection is not affordable unfortunately. I will give your suggestions a try tonight though and see if they make it any more bearable! Thanks very much for you help.
  4. assembled macrumors regular

    Jan 12, 2009
    you can't do much about your upstream bandwidth, but you can make going through directories more efficient...

    The speed of directory browsing is because the protocols that are being used are not designed for WAN operation.

    To improve your experience I would have previously suggested running SSL Explorer, a browser based SSL VPN, but unfortunately it turned into a commercial only product. As a low cost alternative, you could try crushftp, using it for web based file transfer.

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