July 16th, 2007
Some work-from-home solutions involve setting up a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that sends all your internet traffic via your connection to the corporate network. And since big companies like to lock things down, this means you can’t access your private email server, Flickr account, instant messaging app, etc while you’re connected to work.
A better way to do this is for them to use “split tunnelling”, where traffic to youremployer.com goes via the VPN and all other traffic goes via your normal ISP. Not all companies get this, though. These companies are often also the ones that only allow Windows PCs to connect remotely, not Macs or Linux boxes.
Using a Mac running Windows via Parallels is, in a twist of irony, often a better solution than a Windows PC in this kind of situation.
When you connect your Windows virtual machine to the corporate VPN, it is only locking down your Windows environment. Your Mac apps can still reach blocked sites, access your private mail server, access IM, etc.
Using a Mac provides you with the best of both worlds!
Another nice thing about running Windows in a virtualised environment is that you can easily backup the image by simply copying it to an external USB drive or burning it to a DVD-R. If you screw something up in that environment, you can be back up and running in minutes by simply restoring the image.
Also, you can have one Windows image for working remotely, and a separate one for your normal Windows needs. If your employer wants you to install crazy VPN software, antivirus software, patches/updates, etc, or somehow restricts the versions of software (e.g. they need you to have an old version of Microsoft Office installed), you can do so in just that Windows image. You can install all your other software, games, tweaks, hacks etc in your other image without fear of breaking something work-related.