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How to Use Remote Desktop to Connect to a Computer on Your Network
The Remote Desktop feature provides one of the most compelling reasons to get Windows XP Professional. If you run a small office or home office, you might have two or three computers, with your main computer running Windows XP. Maybe you have a laptop and a desktop, with the laptop running Windows 98 or Windows ME. Wouldn't it be nice to see your Windows XP desktop computer on your wireless laptop? Here's how: On the machine to which you want to connect over the network, click Start and click Control Panel. Make sure the Control Panel is in classic mode and then click the System icon.
Click on the Remote tab in the System Properties dialog box. Put a checkmark in the Allow users to connect remotely to this computer checkbox. Click on the Select Remote Users button and make sure your user account is included on the list. Click Apply and then click OK. Be sure to leave this computer running so that you can connect to it from another computer over the network. You can make your computer secure while it's still running by pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL and locking it.
Go to the other computer that you want to use to connect to the Windows XP computer. If the other computer is running Windows XP, you can skip this step. Put in your Windows XP CD-ROM (your vendor did give you your CD, right?). The CD will autorun and you'll see the option Perform additional tasks. Click that option. On the next screen, you'll be asked what you want to do. Click Setup Remote Desktop Connection. This will start the installation Wizard. Finish the installation and go to the next step. Click Start, point to Programs or All Programs (depending on your operating system), point to Accessories, point to Communications and click on Remote Desktop Connection. In the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box, type in the name (or IP address) of the computer to which you want to connect and click Connect.
You'll need to log on after making the connection. Log on and work just as you would if you were right in front of the XP computer. You can run programs installed on the XP machine, even if you don't have those programs on the computer you're using. All processing is actually done on the XP computer. When you're done, log off as you usually do. No one else will be able to use the XP computer while you're logged on to it, so you don't have to worry about someone trying to "share" the computer.
Enabling Remote Desktop for Internet Use
Remote Desktop can be an absolute life saver when you're on the road. We were stuck in a hotel with a wireless network that didn't allow outbound VPN connections, but they did allow outbound Remote Desktop connections. I was able to connect to my Windows XP desktop, access my files, and work just as if I was at home. It's great! However, you need to enable Remote Desktop on your home computer before you leave, and then configure your Internet Router to support connections through the Internet. Here are some tips and tricks:
- The first thing you need to do is enable Remote Desktop connections to your PC. Click Start and then right click My Computer. Click the Properties command.
- Click on the Remote tab in the System Properties dialog box.
- On the Remote tab, put a checkmark in the Allow users to connect remotely to this computer checkbox. You may see a dialog box warning you that some accounts do not have passwords and that only accounts with passwords will be able to connect. Click OK to close the dialog box.
- Click on the Select Remote Users button. Note that the Administrator account already has access, and that any member of the Administrators group can connect, even if you don't manually add them. Click the Add button. Type in the name of the user account you want to use to access the Remote Desktop, then click the Check Names button to make sure you typed it in correctly. Click OK after adding the name.
- Click OK in the Remote Desktop Users dialog box.
- Click Apply and then click OK in the System Properties dialog box.
- The last step is the trickiest, because the steps are different depending on what type of "router" you use to connect to the Internet. What you need to do is configure your "router" (it's actually a NAT server in most cases, rather than a true router) to allow incoming Remote Desktop connections to the external IP address of the router to be forwarded (sent to) the IP address of your Remote Desktop Windows XP computer. The "router" or NAT server needs to pass all incoming connections to TCP Port 3389 to your Windows XP computer. The challenge is getting your Internet connection device to pass the Remote Desktop connections to your computer. Also, make sure you have a strong password on your computer, as it's exposed to the Internet.
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