A few years ago, we decided to get rid of any server we could. We migrated from Exchange to Google Apps, moved our ticketing system from in house to hosted, and moved our Windows file server to Egnyte. I decided to write about this now, because a client was asking me about it.

For us, we didn’t need a typical file server. Most of us worked virtually. Even the users in the office were virtual considering everything resided at a datacenter. We had a site-to-site VPN setup between the office and the datacenter, and we had SSL VPN setup for remote users not in an office. Constantly accessing files via VPN gets old pretty fast though. We wanted our files quickly accessible while working on our day-to-day machines with no noticeable lag time as we dragged the files over our internet line. We also wanted the ability to share files easily and to have access from anywhere without VPN clients.

We looked at some of the bigger players at the time (Box, Dropbox, etc), and then we stumbled onto Egnyte. At that time, I couldn’t believe Egnyte was such an unknown because their solution was pretty damn impressive and extremely cost effective.

First I’ll explain our setup and then quickly go over some of the other features that we don’t use.

When I migrated our file server, I simply setup the folder structure that we had on our file server on Egnyte. I mirrored permissions as well. Then I simply used Egnyte’s drive mapping application on our file server to map a drive to Egnyte. From there, it was simple copy and paste.

Next, I had everyone download and install Egnyte‘s Personal Local Cloud software. This is a simple install where you’ll tell it where to store the local cache. Once the install is done, a web configuration interface opens up. From there, you enter your login credentials and specify which folders you want to sync locally.

That was it. Now, we were able to work with our files like they were local, but the PLC software would keep the cloud updated and everyone else’s local copy updated. It’s been a few years, and it’s still working well.

Since then, we’ve started using the mobile client on phones, tablets, etc, which all seem to work well.

There are some nice features if you are in an office, which we don’t personally use. Instead of installing the Personal Local Cloud on everyone’s machine, you can setup either their Office Local Cloud, which runs on a Netgear NAS, or you can set up the Enterprise Local Cloud, which is a VMware virtual machine. If you go this route, I recommend going with the ELC. It seems more reliable than the OLC. We have a client running both, and they had lots of issues with the OLC on the Netgear, which is why they are running both. It seems like many of those bugs have been worked out, but I’d still trust the ELC more than the OLC.

There are a few bad things about Egnyte. First, we’ve had issues with their support in the past. They have ramped up staffing on that, but we still have issues from time to time. Also, even though they have version control, which is a nice feature and a trash bin when you delete a file, you only have a certain amount of time before that file is purged from the trash bin. If you accidentally delete something and you don’t realize it before it’s purged from the trash, you risk losing it for good.

Also, they changed their web interface a year or so ago. I personally like the old interface better, but maybe I’m getting old. I’d recommend switching to classic.

All and all, it’s been a good choice for us. Maybe it’s something that will help you as well. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.