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Geek Candy
Anywhere Computing: Remote Desktop
by rob

Imagine this scenario:
You're at home, it's the weekend and you just remembered there's a file you forgot to send a client. If the client doesn't get this file you'll likely loose your job. This file is stuck on your computer but the office is closed for the weekend. What do you do?

Rather than breaking into the office to save your job, you can make your computer accessible from anywhere with Remote Desktop. Remote Desktop is also a handy way to manage servers that are in another building or have no monitor or keyboard connected.

What you need:
Windows XP Professional* on the host computer
Windows 95 or later, or Mac OS X 10.2.8 or later on the client computer
A VPN (Virutal Private Network) connection to your company's network (check with your IT department on this)

Host Setup:
Make sure you're logged in as an administrator.

  1. Open the System Control Panel
    Control Panels > Performance and Maintenance > System

  2. Allow users to connect remotely
    Click on the Remote tab and check the box next to "Allow users to connect remotely to this computer" and write down the Full computer name for later use. (Your computer name is also available under the Computer Name tab)
    System Properties
    Your account will have access by default. You may add other users by clicking Select Remote Users...

  3. Next, open Security Center
    Control Panels > Security Center

  4. Under Manage security settings for, click Windows Firewall.

  5. Make sure the firewall is on (which should always be the case) and the box next to 'Don't allow exceptions' is unchecked.

  6. Click the Exceptions tab and verify the box next to Remote Desktop is checked.

Now your host is ready for action. Just leave it running and connected to await a client.

Client Setup:

  1. Download and install a Remote Desktop client if you don't already have one. XP SP2 users should check Start > All Programs > Accessories > Communications > Remote Desktop Connection.
    Remote Desktop Client for Windows
    Remote Desktop Client for Mac OS X

  2. Open up the Remote Desktop Client and enter the host computer's name.

  3. A successful connection will display the logon screen. You'll use the same user name and password for any account that is allowed remote access.

  4. Logging on will give you a full-screen session on the host computer, using all programs that you normally would as if you were sitting in front of the host computer.

Finally, access your file, send it to the client, relax and enjoy your weekend.

* These versions of Windows also support Remote Desktop connections:

  • Windows XP Professional
  • Windows Server 2003
  • Windows 2000 Server
  • Windows 2000 Advanced Server
  • Windows 2000 Datacenter Server
  • Windows NT Server 4.0, Terminal Server Edition

Get started using Remote Desktop with Windows XP Professional
Remote Desktop Connection for OS X

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