Using My Computer When I’m Not Online
Have you ever wondered why you could log into your laptop without being on the network? Well, you might not have wondered that, but there’s a lot going on behind the scenes that make that all possible. This means that even if you’re enjoying a coffee at Starbucks, you can still log in and work on your files. And that’s a pretty good thing to be able to do!
So How Does It Work?
When you first power on your laptop, unless you’re actually plugged into your company’s network with a real network cable, you’ve logged into your laptop using your ‘roaming profile’.
But what’s a roaming profile? Your roaming profile is all of your account’s information, such as the files on your desktop, your permissions and even your account name and password. This information is stored not only on the network, but also locally on your laptop as well. This means that your computer will recognize you even if your computer can’t reach the company’s network, and stores your files and remembers your passwords and bookmarks and such.
But why is that important? Normally, when you log into your computer, your computer will ask the network who you are. However, the only type of network that works in that kind of situation is a network connection using a physical cable. In fact, you can’t use wifi at all until you log in.
In this case, your computer gives you a chance to log in by checking against the last password you used. When you do this, everything will be as you left it the last time, and you’ll be able to use your files just as if you were in the office. However, there are two things to remember.
Two Important To Remember About Your Profile
First, if you somehow make a change to one of those files stored in your profile – such a spreadsheet as on your desktop or a photo in your My Documents folder – from another computer, those changes won’t synchronize to your laptop until the next time you log into the network itself. So if you leave your laptop at home and make a change on a file in your profile there, and then go into work and use a desktop computer, you won’t see those changes on your desktop until you bring your laptop into work again.
Second, if you’re not connected to the company network, you can still use the files on your laptop – but you won’t be able to access network shares. So if you happen to have a shared drive or a printer that you regularly use, you won’t be able to use them if you’re not on the network.
So what do you do if you’re at home and you need to access these kinds of resources? Well, as usual there’s a solution.
Virtual Private Networks (VPN)
A virtual private network, or VPN, is a way to trick your computer to thinking it’s at the office.
To explain how the technology works, imagine that the internet is a big field with a big fence, and your work network is a little field separated by another fence. Normally, these two fields are separated. However, connecting to your virtual private network is like digging a ‘tunnel’ between the big field and the little field (in fact, it’s actually called a tunnel).
Once you connect your virtual private network, your computer can reach your work network. In fact, it behaves exactly as if it’s in the office. That means you’ll be able to print, access your file shares, and otherwise behave just like you’re at work. Furthermore, your profile will update, which means your files will receive the latest updates to them if there has been a change!
In order to connect to your virtual private network, you’ll need to connect to the internet first. Once you connect to the internet, you can then click on the VPN connection to connect it as well – both connections are needed in order to work.
Once your VPN is connected, you’re off to the races! Just be sure your boss doesn’t actually think you’re at your desk today.