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I need help setting up simple Remote Desktop Access...

Posted on 2005-03-24
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Hello all,

I have a Windows XP IBM Thinkpad T40. Although it's a laptop, I don't really take it everywhere. Sometimes when I'm at school I find that I need some files from my laptop at home, and I wish that I could log-in to my computer and access those files. Then, of course, I thought of Microsoft Remote Desktop Access.

First of all, I enabled Remote Access on my computer (host). But I couldn't go beyong that. I have some questions, which answers could assist me go further. Here we go:

1) In the client computer, after I click on 'Remote Desktop Connection', what goes in the 'Computer' gap? Is it my computer name? But I don't wanna connect from within a local network. I want to connect via internet. So I guess the answer is the IP address?
2) If it is the IP address, is there a trick to remotely tell what's the current IP address on the host computer?
3) The host computer is connected from behind a router (wireless internet sharing), I heard that that could affect the connection. What can I do to avoid it?

Bonus Question :P...Does anyone know if it's OK for a laptop to be ON for days like desktops? My laptop has a fan and everything...but it does get slightly hot although I sit it on a solid flat surface so it can breath...What do you guys think?

These are all my questions for now.  I appreciate your help...

Thanks,

msafi,
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Question by:msafi
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47 Comments
 
LVL 57

Assisted Solution

by:Pete Long
Pete Long earned 120 total points
ID: 13619682
Remote Desktop connection

The Remote Desktop Connection software is pre-installed with Windows XP. To run it, click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, click Communications, and then click Remote Desktop Connection. This software package can also be found on the Windows XP Professional and Windows XP Home Edition product CDs and can be installed on any supported Windows platform. To install from the CD, insert the disc into the target machine's CD-ROM drive, select Perform Additional Tasks, and then click Install Remote Desktop Connection.

*****Using Remote Desktop *****

*Set Up Your Computer for Remote Desktop*
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/using/howto/gomobile/remotedesktop/default.asp

*To setup your office computer to use Remote Desktop*
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/using/howto/gomobile/remotedesktop/enableremote.asp

*To install Remote Desktop Connection software on a client computer (XP)*
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/using/howto/gomobile/remotedesktop/remoteclient.asp

*To create a new Remote Desktop Connection*
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/using/howto/gomobile/remotedesktop/startremote.asp

Connecting to Windows 95, Windows 98 and 98 Second Edition, Windows Me, Windows NT® 4.0, or Windows 2000, Remote Desktop Connection Software Download.
http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/pro/downloads/rdclientdl.asp

*****Running Remote Desktop through a router*****

To run remote desktop thought a router at home you will need to enable port forwarding, the process for this differs depending on the router.

Linksys http://www.proteknet.com/procedures/linksys/linksys_port_forward.htm
Netopia http://www.proteknet.com/procedures/netopia/port_forward_netopia.htm
Visionet http://www.proteknet.com/procedures/visionnet/port_forward_visionnet.htm

On the source system (The PC you are controlling FROM) port 3389 must be "port forwarded" to the IP address of the machine you want to connect TO

Configuring the Remote Desktop Client to Connect to a Specific Port
http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=304304

How to Change the Listening Port for Remote Desktop
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;EN-US;306759

*****Links*****

What is Remote Desktop in Windows XP?
http://www.petri.co.il/what's_remote_desktop.htm

Installing Remote Desktop Web Connection in Windows XP
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=http://support.microsoft.com:80/support/kb/articles/q284/9/31.asp&NoWebContent=1

How to use remote Desktop Access in Windows XP (Good Link!)
http://www.wown.info/j_helmig/wxprmdtp.htm

Setting up a wireless Remote Desktop
http://www.wireless-network-guide.com/remote-desktop-windows-xp.php

Using Windows XP Windows XP Remote Desktop
http://www.2000trainers.com/article.aspx?articleID=201&page=1

Remote Desktop and Remote Assistance
http://www.labmice.net/WindowsXP/NetworkingXP/remote_desktop.htm
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LVL 11

Expert Comment

by:-Leo-
ID: 13619684
1. It should be PC network name (if you can resolve it) or IP address (in your case)
2. You should assign this address on your router with NAT or static mapping
3. Yes, you have to set up your router/firewall to pass traffic from the internet

It should not be a problem as soon as laptop's screen switched off - I have my laptop never off for 3 years and its doing fine!
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13619695
I remembered one more question, but it should come after the above questions have been asnwered.

4) How do I restrict access to my computer?


Thanks Pete, if I don't get direct answers from the experts, I'll look at those sites.

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Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13619706
Thanks for the input Leo,

I don't wanna assign a static IP on my computer because I take it other places. And I cannot do that from the router side because it doesn't support such a feature!
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LVL 32

Accepted Solution

by:
LucF earned 1800 total points
ID: 13619710
Hi msafi,

1) You'll either need to put in the IP address, or the hostname, the computername won't work as it's not known on the internet.
2) The easiest way is to just use a dynamic DNS service like http://www.dyndns.org/ so you always have a static hostname and you don't have to find out the IP each time.
3) As long as port 80 (for the web client) and port 3389 (for the remote desktop) are forwarded from the router to your laptop you won't have any problems.

>>Does anyone know if it's OK for a laptop to be ON for days like desktops?<<
Not a problem at all, as long as the hardware is fine your laptop will easely be able to run 24/7, it may seem hot to you, but keep in mind that an average desktop processor also reaches 40 degrees (sometimes even higher) but as the processor in a laptop is so close to the casing this is easely felt.

Greetings,

LucF
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Expert Comment

by:LucF
ID: 13619711
Hmm... and I'm very slow today :)
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Expert Comment

by:Pete Long
ID: 13619712
>>4) How do I restrict access to my computer?

well RDP is not really a secure protocol- if you  have a router at home you will need to do some port forwarding - but you still need to "Log on" to the PC at home
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13619730
LucF,

thanks for the answers,

is there a free alternative to www.dyndns.org?
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Expert Comment

by:LucF
ID: 13619800
DynDNS is free :)
It all depends on the domainname you want, if you want something like <yourname>.com than you have to pay for it, but <yourname>.dyndns.org is free.

LucF
0
 
LVL 88

Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 13620121
With remote desktop and no official IP / no own Domain name, the easiest way of using remote desktop would be to use the following system:

On your home PC, click on Start, All Programs, Remote Assistance. Now select "Invite Someone to help you". Now select the "Use E-Mail" and type in the email address you use at school. Select "Invite this Person", then move on until you can set the expiration time. Here you will have to select a long time, probably in days. Then you can also select a password to use. Then click on "Send invitation".

You will now get an email with a link to the invitation, which you just have to open on your PC at school, where you will then be able to login to your home PC. Your School's PC also needs Windows XP as OS for this to work. The connection is safe as it is encrypted and it only works with the original invitation. There shouldn't be any need to change any firewall settings to get it to work in that way.
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LVL 6

Expert Comment

by:bmquintas
ID: 13620926
You can also give a look at https://secure.logmein.com/go.asp?page=home  they have a free version of Logmein, and it's encrypted. But i would stick to experts comments given.

Bruno
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13628000
@LucE,

Thanks for your help. I signed up for DynDNS. Now before I get started I wanted to make my router forward the port you gave me, but here's my router instructions:

/*
Port Range Forwarding can be used to set up public services on your network. When users from the Internet make certain requests on your network, the Router can forward those requests to computers equipped to handle the requests. If, for example, you set the port number 80 (HTTP) to be forwarded to IP Address 192.168.1.2, then all HTTP requests from outside users will be forwarded to 192.168.1.2. It is recommended that the computer use static IP address.
*/

Note at the end it says better have static IP. I don't have a static IP...can you recommend what I should do?
My router is a Linksys BEFW11S4?
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13628025
@LucE,

One more question,

How does DynDNS know when my IP address changes?
0
 
LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:LucF
ID: 13628692
>>Note at the end it says better have static IP. I don't have a static IP...can you recommend what I should do?
My router is a Linksys BEFW11S4?<<
DynDNS has overcome the problem with the dynamic DNS, so you don't have to worry about a dynamic IP address.

>>How does DynDNS know when my IP address changes?<<
You'll need to install a client: http://www.dyndns.org/support/clients/dyndns.html
Personally I like the ones that run as a service, so you can be sure it's running, even when you're not logged in.

LucF
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13628719
LucF, what about the port forwarding? do I still need to open the port on my host computer or no?
0
 
LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:LucF
ID: 13628819
Of course :)
You'll need to forward port 80 and port 3389 from your router to your computer, and then enable remote desktop on your computer (if you're using the WinXP firewall, port 3389 will be opened automatically)

And if you have IIS running already, you'll only have to make sure a rule exist for http on your computer.

LucF
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13628844
LucF,

Yes, that's what I was saying. For me to forward the port properly from my router, I have to set my computer to have a static IP address, and I cannot do that because I take my laptop sometimes to coffee shops and other places.

And what is IIS?

thanks,
0
 
LVL 1

Expert Comment

by:Andy_Needham
ID: 13628854
There is another route instead of windows desktop-sharing.  You should look at <https://www.gotomypc.com> - it works perfectly and will allow you to do all you require. I have used it successfully on numerous servers and clients in a host of networking permutations. The problem is that you have to pay for the service, so I guess that will knock it on the head?

Andy
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13628875
Andy, exactly, why pay when you have it free and ready with XP?
0
 
LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:LucF
ID: 13629335
>>I have to set my computer to have a static IP address<<
Don't worry too much about that, the DHCP server within those Linksys routers are pretty stable in handing out IP adresses, especially if your computer is running a lot you have a fair chance that your IP address won't change very often (as-in only a few times a year) even though you connect it at other places as well.
The DHCP server will just check if the IP assigned to the MAC address of your computer is still available. (which it'll most likely still be)
Or, of course you can set a static IP address and set it to dynamic whenever needed to access another place, this might be an annoyance though.

>>And what is IIS?<<
IIS is the webserver you need to have running to be able to use the ActiveX client:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=e2ff8fb5-97ff-47bc-bacc-92283b52b310&DisplayLang=en
If you're not using a winXP computer to connect to your homecomputer you might find it without the Remote desktop client or Terminal Services client. At that moment the ActiveX client comes in handy as you'll be able to just download a tiny client though Internet Explorer.
It's all your choice if you want this or not.

LucF
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13650228
Okay Experts. I did it; but only from inside our wireless home network. so I have some questions and comments.

1) I read some where in the provided links that I might have two IP addresses. One that is assigned by the network router and the other one by my ISP. Since I didn't have the chance to test the connection from outside our wireless network, I'd like to ask: When I try to connect from outside the wireless network, which IP do I use, the ISP's or the router's? Do I need to forward a certain port?

2) I really cannot understand how to use the dynDNS.org service. Can someone give me a step-by-step guide on how to utilize it?

3) I read some where that to be able to use the Remote Desktop Connection I have to setup a user account with a password. Using user account passwords is a lot of hassle to me. I like to turn my computer on and go. I don't wanna see welcome screen and have to re-enter a password everytime I reboot. Is there a way around this problem? I only have one user account and I'd like to keep it this way.

Thanks for all the help!

msafi,
0
 
LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:LucF
ID: 13650296
Hi msafi,

Let's first work on getting your client running from the outside.
The IP to use can be found by opening http://www.whatismyip.com from the computer hosting Remote Desktop.
Make sure that from your network router port 3389 is forwarded to the actual internal IP address of that computer.

Now try connecting to connect from an external computer, if all's setup the right way it should work instantly.

>>I read some where that to be able to use the Remote Desktop Connection I have to setup a user account with a password.<<
This is absolutely true, do you want anyone to be able to connect to your computer? That would be a huge security problem, so you will have to use a password for sure, and a good one too.

LucF
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13650391
Okay. I used www.whatismyip.com to find out my IP.

You said: "Now try connecting to connect from an external computer"

I tried connecting to my IP, which I got from whatismyip.com, from another computer that's online through our wireless home network. I hope that that computer qualifies as "an external computer"

Everything worked, I was able to connect to whatismyip.com IP just as I was able to connect to the internal router assigned IP. Does that mean I will be able to do it when I go to school and use a computer that is totally outside our wireless home network?

If the answer to the last question above is 'Yes', then my next question would be, how do I figure out my host computer IP when I'm away from home? I setup an account with DynDNS.org, but I don't know how to use it.

One more thing,
When I said that I wanted to avoid the password, I didn't mean the password of the Remote Desktop Connection, but the password when I use my computer from my computer! So is there a way to setup a password that is specific to the Remote Desktop Connection that doesn't interfere with how I use my computer locally?

Thank you so much for the help,

msafi,
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13650399
Oh, I forgot to mention that I of course forwarded the port in my router settings.
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13650412
One more question,

whatismyip.com shows that both my laptop, and my wife's laptop have the same IP. so if she also wants to connect to her laptop from school, which IP does she use? how would the systems know which computer to connect to?
0
 
LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:LucF
ID: 13650491
>>Does that mean I will be able to do it when I go to school and use a computer that is totally outside our wireless home network?<<
Yes :)

>>I setup an account with DynDNS.org, but I don't know how to use it.<<
You got a domainname from DynDNS, you'll have to use that domainname instead of the IP you know now, all you need to do is setup a DynDNS client like the ones listed at http://www.dyndns.org/support/clients/dyndns.html on one of the computers in your internal network.

>>So is there a way to setup a password that is specific to the Remote Desktop Connection that doesn't interfere with how I use my computer locally?<<
Not that I know of, but maybe someone else has an idea about this.

>>whatismyip.com shows that both my laptop, and my wife's laptop have the same IP.<<
Yes, this is because the IP you see is the one your router has, not the one that your computer has, the port forwarding on the router makes sure the requests are forwarded to your laptop.

So to be able to use remote desktop on your wife's laptop you'll have to change the port Remote desktop is running on, this can be done by a simple registry change as explained at http://www.sanx.org/tipShow.asp?articleRef=80
(and also forward that port on the router to your wife's laptop of course)

LucF
0
 
LVL 88

Assisted Solution

by:rindi
rindi earned 80 total points
ID: 13650556
here's just an addition to Luc's explanation above for your Wife's PC. In order to connect to that PC you'd have to add the new port when you logon from the remote client. ie., if you have defined the new port to be 666, you would use the following syntax to log on: IpNumber:666, or YourDNSName:666
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13650564
LucF

Everything is working smoothly...It's really nice...and I'm getting excited. Can't wait to try it from school.

And I will try to figure a solution for the multiple laptop problem.

Thank you so much LucF!!

msafi,
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13650576
rindi,

Thank you. I will try that!!

ms,
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13650620
rindi,

I tried to connect from my laptop to my wife's laptop using this: myname.homeip.net:1234

myname = the name i chose with DynDNS.org
homip.net = the domain that DynDNS.org gave me
1234 = the port that i forwarded in my router.

but it didn't work. it tries to connect for few moments then it gives me a big error message box.

what could the problem be?
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13650632
1234 port is forwarded to my wife's laptop internal IP ofcourse.
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13650678
i re-read the posts above one more time.


so where do i make the registry change? on my computer or on my wife's computer?

if i change the default port, wouldn't that affect the connection of both computers. in other words, i will have the same problem but with different port number?

hmmm!!
0
 
LVL 88

Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 13650690
You also need to have done the registry adjustment Luc mentioned above (you might have to reboot the PC when done), and first try it with the IP and not the DNS Name. Remote Desktop of course needs to be enabled on your wife's pc as well...
You'd also need to run one of those dynamic dns client softwares on that notebook (I'm not sure if you also need to register a PC name with DynDNS if you have more than one client inside the same network)
0
 
LVL 88

Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 13650701
It's your Wife's PC where you would need to make the registry change. It doesn't affect both PCs, it just tells the PC on which port to make the service available.
0
 
LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:LucF
ID: 13650751
>>on my computer or on my wife's computer?<<
Like rindi said, yes, on your wife's PC ;)

You don't need an extra DynDNS client for your wife's laptop as it just uses the same IP address, you will need to connect to the different port (<full domainname>:<portnumber)

LucF
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13651046
CheckList:
=======
1) Remote Desktop Connection's port on wife's laptop has been changed to 1234 and PC rebooted [done]
2) IP's of all laptops has been set to static in Windows. [done]
3) Port 1234 is forwarded to my wife's static IP. [done]
4) Remote desktop on wife's laptop has been enabled [done]
5) User account with password and admin status on wife's laptop has been created [done]
6) Public IP has been obtained from whatismyip.com [done]
7) Tried to connect to <publicIP>:1234 from my laptop to wife's laptop [failed] :((

So what could I be doing wrong now?

0
 
LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:LucF
ID: 13651058
Looks like all steps that had to be taken, what's the error message you receive?

LucF
0
 
LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:LucF
ID: 13651068
Also, does it work inside the network, as in, can you connect to the Remote desktop from your own computer to your wife's when using the internal IP-address and portnumber?
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13651086
Very generic one. Here it is:

"The client could not connect to the remote computer.

Remote connections might not be enabled or the computer might be too busy to accept new connections. It is also possible that network problems are preventing your connection.

Please try connecting again later. If the problem continues to occur, contact your adminstrator."
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13651104
<<Also, does it work inside the network, as in, can you connect to the Remote desktop from your own computer to your wife's when using the internal IP-address and portnumber?>>
Good question...Actually no, I cannot connect?!?!?
0
 
LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:LucF
ID: 13651119
Then you might still have the winXP firewall enabled, try disabling it for a sec, or at least make a rule for remote desktop.

LucF
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Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13651156
<<Then you might still have the winXP firewall enabled, try disabling it for a sec, or at least make a rule for remote desktop.>>

Definitely. I tried it and it worked!! I also tried the dns and it also worked.

I think it's because Windows doesn't know when you change the port of Remote Desktop Access, so you have to correct it in their Firewall manually...

Thank you so much man...

I will test them from school later today and I will report here :))

msafi,
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Expert Comment

by:LucF
ID: 13651213
Ok, good luck, I'm almost certain you'll come back with good news.

LucF
0
 

Author Comment

by:msafi
ID: 13658237
I logged in from school today and couldn't be happier.

Thank you all!!
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LVL 88

Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 13658561
thanx, too.
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Expert Comment

by:LucF
ID: 13659108
Glad to help msafi,

LucF
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Expert Comment

by:Pete Long
ID: 13659574
ThanQ
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