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Banki
02-23-2009, 01:42 AM
Windows XP Professional includes a basic PC remote control tool which lets you log onto your PC remotely from anywhere. Do you know how to use it?


It’s called Remote Desktop Connection, and when you’ve properly configured your PC, this handy utility will let you log into your computer from anywhere in the world and control it as if you were sitting in front of it instead of half a world away.

If you’re running Windows XP Professional, you already have all the software you need to connect remotely to your PC. Whether you’d like to monitor a server, grab files from your home PC at work, or just keep an eye on your machines when you’re out, connecting remotely is easy to do. However, due to the vagaries of network configurations and various other quirks beyond your control, you may not be able to actually connect. Until now.



Prepping your system

First, you need to know the IP address of the computer you want to connect to. The only sure-fire way to always be able to connect to your PC’s is to use an ISP that provides you with a static IP address. Most ISPs give customers dynamic IP addresses, which can change every few days or even hours. Because your IP address is the way you’ll locate your computer on the net, you’ll need to know what your IP address is and monitor it as it changes.

The good news is that there are loads of programs that will notify you of IP address changes, whenever they occur. We like IP Address Monster (www.ipmonster.com). It’s a small program that runs in your system tray and can be configured to e-mail you whenever your IP address changes.




IP Address Monster should be your first stop to remote connectivity. This handy utility will keep tabs on your Internet address and send you an e-mail whenever it changes.



Now that you know your IP address, you need to make sure that Remote Desktop Connection is enabled. Make sure your firewall is configured to allow incoming connections on port 3389 (firewalls vary, so check your documentation to find out how to open the port).

You can turn on Remote Desktop Connection in the System Control Panel (Start, Control Panel, System). Check the Remote tab and make sure “Allow users to connect remotely to this computer” is checked. You’ll also need to have at least one user account that requires a password because accounts without passwords are prohibited from logging into Remote Desktop.





To enabling Remote Desktop, open the System Control Panel, go to the Remote tab, and check this box.



It’s important to make sure the passwords on the machine you’re going to remotely log into are “good” ones. This means you should use a mixture of letters and numbers, avoid words that are found in dictionaries, and change the password regularly to protect yourself from mischief.



Making the connection

At this point, your PC should be prepped and patiently waiting for a connection. To log in, you need to open the Remote Desktop Connection client on your remote PC. Go to Start, Programs, Accessories, Communications, Remote Desktop Connection. Input the IP address you want to connect to (courtesy of IP Address Monster) in the Computer field. Then enter your username and password.

Now you’ll want to tweak a few settings to optimize your remote experience. Whiz-bang features gobble up bandwidth, so you should tune your settings to match your home net connection. We recommend you start with a minimal feature set. Press the Options button, then the Display tab. Change the display settings to full-screen, 256-color. This looks acceptable and consumes practically no bandwidth. You’ll also want to browse to the Experience tab and change the Performance setting to reflect your home PC’s connection speed.




Switching to a lower color resolution and a smaller display area will greatly minimize the amount of data that has to transfer between your computer and the remote PC.



Once you’ve tuned the connection a bit, you’re ready to connect. Press the Connect key and you’re in!



What to do next

At this point, you should be connected. You can run programs and manipulate files just like you’re sitting in front of your PC. In fact, you can even use your PC’s e-mail and web browsers. Do you want to start downloading Desert Combat now so you can start playing it when you get home? That’s easy enough; just log into your PC using Remote Desktop, open your web browser, and download the file. It will be sitting on your machine waiting for you as soon as you get home. If all your PCs are running Windows XP Pro, and you enable drive-sharing in the Local Resources tab, you can transfer files from remote PC to local PC. You can even remotely transfer files between local PCs on your home network.


Once connected, you can interact with printer ports and networked hard drives. This is a handy way to delete those “special interest” videos you downloaded before your wife finds them.