Access Your PC From Anywhere

By Matt Peterson



There are several services available now that allow you to remotely access your computer from any other machine in the world, as long as it is connected to the internet.  The good news is that Windows XP Professional has this functionality built into the operating system.  In this article, I am going to show you how to configure your Windows XP Professional computer to support remote access using the Remote Desktop feature.

To use Remote Desktop you will need the following:

A host computer (the one you want to access remotely) that is running Microsoft Windows XP Professional and is connected to the Internet.

A client computer (the one you will use when remotely accessing your PC) running Microsoft Windows XP, Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition (Me), Microsoft Windows 98, Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition, Microsoft Windows 2000, Microsoft Windows NT 4.0, or Microsoft Windows 95, with access to the Internet.

Appropriate user accounts and permissions configured on the remote Windows XP Professional to allow remote access.

The IP address of your home computer.  You can figure this out by going to a site like http://www.whatismyip.com. The only problem with this is that your ISP may dynamically change this address from time to time.  I would recommend using a free dynamic DNS provider, such as http://www.no-ip.com.  This will allow you to assign a public DNS record to your computer, such as http://yourcomputer.no-ip.com.  You will need to have tcp port 3389 open on your firewall.  If your machine is behind a firewall or NAT router you will need to forward traffic on tcp port 3389 to your host computer.

How to Configure the Remote Desktop service

On the host computer, go to the control panel and double click the system icon.  Click the Remote tab, and then click to select the Allow users to connect remotely to this computer check box.  Administrators are granted access by default, but there is an option to add other user accounts if needed.  Click on OK to save your changes.

Connecting to your computer

On the client PC, you will need a software client called Remote Desktop Connection.  Computers running Windows XP Home and Professional already have this client installed.  If you are connecting from a client PC that is running another version of windows, you will need to install the Remote Desktop Connection software.  You can download the software for free from Microsoft's website.  The next step is to run the Remote Desktop Connection software so you can connect to your computer.  To do this, Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to Communications, and then click Remote Desktop Connection.  From here you just need to enter the IP address or DNS host name and click on connect.

Obviously, there are security implications that need to be considered when opening ports on you firewall or NAT router and exposing your machine to the internet.   Please consider all of the security risks and decide whether or not this method will work for you.


About the Author:

Matt Peterson is a Senior Consultant for N2 Network Solutions, an Arizona based IT Consulting firm providing network support and computer repair.





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