Remote Desktop setup can be frustrating. There are so many variables involved to making connections that the process is destined to fail somewhere along the line. For instance, to connect from your home to your office using built-in Remote Desktop, you need to know the IP address of your office connection (which probably changes every few days), and the IP address of your computer and the port number through which this magic is happening. Say what? All of this is possible to figure out, but because the main IP address changes dynamically without your knowledge, you might connect today, but might not be able to connect tomorrow. So what do you do? We have listed some ideas for remote desktop setup, as well as alternative remote desktop programs that can help keep you connected to the office while you sip margaritas at the beach.
Windows Remote Desktop Configuration
Remote Desktop setup can be configured to access other computers. Hold the Windows key and press the PAUSE button on your keyboard (upper right corner). Under the Remote tab, make sure the remote desktop boxes are checked. You might need to go into the control panel, then the firewall options to make sure Remote Desktop is setup as an exception–which it usually is by default. Next, make sure your host computer has a static IP address (meaning it never changes). By default, computers behind a router will get their IP addresses from the router, which means they could change. To make the IP address static, go into your network connections, right-click it and select Properties. Next, highlight Internet protocol (TCP/IP) and click the Properties button. Select Use The Following IP Address and input those values. Typically, it will be something like 192.168.1.2 for the IP, 255.255.255.0 for the subnet mask and the gateway IP will be your router at 192.168.1.1. But those might be different based on your setup.
You will also need to go into your router and tell it to forward the Remote Desktop port to your computer’s new IP address. Remote Desktop uses 3389. So in the port-forwarding area of your router, use that port with the new IP address of your main computer, which based on the above example is 192.168.1.2.
The last piece of the Remote Desktop puzzle is how to make the external IP address of your router static. You might not be able to do this, but you can use a service like Dynamic DNS, which allows you to make a hostname that maps to your changing IP address. Read more about Dynamic DNS here.
Once all of this is done, you should be able to connect remotely to your computer. If you have multiple computers on the same LAN, all you will need to do is navigate to the Communications folder through Start>All Programs>Accessories and open Remote Desktop and type in the IP address of that computer. It only gets complicated when you are going out over the Internet to remote to another computer. In that instance, you will need to do the above steps to set it up.
Remote Desktop Services
If you’re not into all of that configuring, you can use other services to remote in to your computer. A great option is Microsoft Mesh. All you have to do is download the software, login, and add each computer to the mesh. From that point on, you can easily login to any computer you have added.
GoToMyPC is a popular commercial service that works flawlessly. But there is a fee. If you have a business, you might want to sign up, as it has a lot of great features and allows you to login to your computer right through their site.
LogMeIn is another service that offers free and Pro accounts.
To recap, Remote Desktop setup is probably best used internally on your local network, as there is less configuration involved. Live Mesh is free and great for syncing documents and GoToMyPC is the best commercial program. The remote desktop option you choose will be based on your needs and your budget. But as more and more of us become mobile computer users, a need for one of these services is definately necessary.
If you have any questions about remote desktop software, be sure to visit our free computer forums today!