A: Depending on which remote-connection solution you use, working from outside the office can be a pain. Many VPN solutions cut off connectivity to local network resources as soon as a VPN connection is established. With others, the multistep process to make the connection and ultimately find the on-the-LAN resources you're seeking gets cumbersome. One inexpensive solution that can aid users outside the network gets an assist from the no-cost VMware Player.

Here's how it works: Create a template virtual machine (VM) using either VMware Player or VMware Workstation. Include in this VM any software and scripts that set up your VPN connection. When ready, power down the VM and make it available for users to download. By creating and distributing preconfigured VMs that are equipped to automate the VPN connection process, users can be delivered a ready-to-go desktop for remote situations. Because this desktop exists as a separate VM, its VPN connection won't necessarily disable connections from the user's primary desktop. Better still, by having users connect via a preconfigured VM, you retain better control over the OS instances that connect into your internal network.