setting up Linksys WRT54GS V4 for Windows Remote Desktop.

I’m going to sound like a total idiot here, but it’ll be worth it if I can get the help I need. I’ve searched the archives, and submitted one previous questions, but every solution I’ve found has a starting point that is already beyond my almost non-existent knowledge of routers and networks.

I have a home computer with XP Pro. It’s connected to a Linksys WRT54GS v.4 wireless router with firmware version 1.05.2.  Two other home computers are hard-wired to the router, but I’m not interested in access to those.  I have a laptop with XP Home. I’ve set up Remote Desktop so it works over my home wireless network and I can access my XP Pro machine from my laptop on my home wireless network.

I’d like to set up Remote Desktop so that when I’m away from home at a hotel or location with a wireless connection, I can still access the XP Pro machine at home. I know this involves settings on the router, but the answers I’ve researched so far assume I know about port forwarding and the network behind my router, etc. Unfortunately, I’m woefully ignorant and can’t seem to find the right learning source. So what I need is step-by step instructions, starting from scratch, on how to set this up (assuming it can be done with the router I have). I have Windows Firewall turned off. I know how to access the router settings (IP address of router is 192.168.2.1). From there, I’m kinda lost.

Can anybody point me in the right direction? Would a call to Linksys technical support solve anything?

Thanks,
Chuck T.
cwthornton1211Asked:
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Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
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Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
first of all configure your router.  (link above) since you've already got your Windows XP firewall off that is a good start
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Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=kb;en-us;315328

and there is the step by step guide on how to set it up.
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
To add to irwinpks, you probably have a dynamic public IP, an IP address that is assigned by your ISP (Internet service Provider), to the WAN connection of the router, that changes from time to time. Use this address, which you can find by visiting from you home location by going to http://www.whatismyip.com , to connect with remote desktop connection, for now. However this address will probably change and then you will not be able to connect until you check the new IP. To work around this you can obtain a free DDNS service(Dynamic Domain Name Service). The service assigns you a domain name to which you connect rather than the IP. It will track the changing IP and associate it with the domain name.
I have included detailed instructions I wrote a while back for setting up the service:
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DDNS, and static IP's: In case you are not familiar with DDNS (Dynamic Domain Name Service), they are free services that give you a name like myname.dnsalias.org and they track your dynamic IP. You either have to configure the router for the service, or download a little piece of software for your computer, and it advises the DDNS service of any changes to your dynamic IP. The recommended method is using the router, otherwise the computer with the installed software has to be left on. Now whenever you enter myname.dnsalias.com, the FQDN (Fully Qualified Domain Name), it directs you to your WAN IP or the router. There are numerous free services available; www.dyndns.com, www.dns2go.com, and www.no-ip.com, to name a few. I prefer www.dyndns.com. You need to contact the service provider such as http://www.dyndns.com and set up a free account, and a host name/Dynamic DNS service for your IP. You can have 5 IP's with a free account. Once done you will have a host name like myname.dnsalias.com, a user name, and a password. Enter these in the router's DDNS page.

Note: There is a catch with the free www.dyndns.com service and possibly some of the others. If the IP doesn't change for 35 days, it needs to be manually updated, otherwise your account is considered dormant and the Host name, not your account, will be dropped. They usually send you a warning a few days in advance. If the service works for you, I would recommend paying the $9.95 a year that overrides the 35 day limit. It also allows you to list 20 IP's with a paid account.

Specific instructions for www.dyndns.com;
After you create an new user account with www.dyndns.com ,  log in and at the top of the page click on 'Account' and then middle of the page choose 'My services'. Near the bottom of the page you will see Host Level Services. If you haven't done so you will need to set up a domain name. I would recommend starting with a fresh one regardless. Do so by clicking "Add host service", then "Add Dynamic DNS Host". Now fill in a Host name of your choosing like "myname" and choose a suffix like "dnsalias.org" (any one in the list will do). Your current IP, if you are connecting from the site where you will be using this, will be displayed in the next box. If not, change it to the current IP.  If you don't know it you can find by going to  http://www.whatismyip.com  Now click "Add Host". Leave Wildcards and Mail fields empty.

Now in your router set up (my recommendation), or in your DDNS software application enter your hostname myname.dnsalias.org, or what ever you choose, your password and choose the service, dyndns if asked and you are done. Make sure you only use one, the router or the application, not a good idea to use both.

Now to test. You know how to find your IP by going to http://www.whatismyip.com so verify that. Now at a command prompt (DOS window) enter nslookup  myname.dnsalias.org  (substitute your domain name) and it should resolve/return the proper WAN IP you located above.
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cwthornton1211Author Commented:
Okay, I followed irwinpks' advice as far as the router settings, but now I'm getting the feeling from RobWill's post that I'm not really there yet, because I have dsl through pacbell and definitely have a dynamic public IP.  I already have a domain (cwthornton.com) set up by easydns.com, and I can see that it mentions handling DDNS, but let me make sure I understand. Right now, easydns forwards any email addressed to anybody@cwthornton.com to my pacbell email address. It also redirects anyone who types in "cwthornton.com" as the address in their browser to the free website space provided to me by pacbell. Is it safe to say that I'm now going to easydns and setting up an additional service of DDNS? And once I do that, does it mean further monkeying around with the router settings?  Sorry, I'm trying to do my homework here, and I've read all the instructional links, but I'm still trying to get a handle on this.
Thanks for all the info so far, by the way. Contrary to the way it may appear, I AM learning.
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
You could set up up your existing domain to point to your dynamic IP but you would loose your web site, so I assume you don't want to go that route.
So you could set up a DDNS service with easydns or anyone else. Something has to advise the DDNS service that the IP has changed. There are 2 options, installing a piece of software on your PC, or using the router itself. The drawback to using the PC is it always has t be on. Personally I prefer using the router. It is easy to set up and once done, it looks after itself. You just have to add your assigned domain name, user name and password. However, if you are going to use the router it only supports 3 DDNS services dyndns.com (above), 3322.org, and PenutHull.
Once the service and router are set up when you want to connect to your site you simply use the assigned domain name rather than the IP.
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Irwin SantosComputer Integration SpecialistCommented:
I concur with robwill in utilizing the router instead of your computer system in managing the overall routing....waiting for your you to apply the above robwill comment.
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cwthornton1211Author Commented:
Well, I'll see about following your steps, but I'm still missing the overall concept. I gather that, in order to connect to my home computer from another network, I have to tell it to connect to the IP address assigned to my router by my ISP, and because it's a dynamic IP address, I have to connect to a DDNS service that keeps track of the dynamic IP address and... what? The DDNS service tells my router what the current IP address is? So when I try to connect from a remote location, I'm.... what? Typing in a domain name that I set up with whatever DDNS service I'm using that's compatible with my router (which, as luck would have it, is not easydns.com)?  I've checked out easydns.com and they have some instructions on how to set up the DDNS, and even what software to download (they suggest dynsite for windows). But they don't mention anything (that I can decipher) about the router settings. So am I understanding correctly that my suggested course of action is to go to dyndns.com (for example) and set up a NEW domain name, then download their DDNS software and follow the installation instructions, which will include how to set up my router?
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
I know it is an odd concept but to try to elaborate:
Yes to connect to your home site you would normally use the IP address, however that only works with a static IP. Thus a DDNS service.
First you have to set up an account with one of the many services. When you do so you have some choices over what you want to use for a domain name. Usually you can choose any prefix, assuming someone else hasn't chosen it, and then they have numerous choices of suffixes, so you can have  myname.homedns.net  or similar. You can also purchase any domain standard domain name and set this up but that is a slightly different service and there are fees. As a rule for this purpose the name doesn't matter as it is only for your use. At the time when you set this up you tell the service the current IP of your home site, though this is not necessary as it will automatically register the IP once you set up the home end. Regardless, the DDNS service has a series of DNS records that associate your IP with your domain name.

Next step is to create a method that will monitor your IP and notify the DDNS service if it changes. This can either be done by the router or a piece of software you install on the computer. Which ever one you choose, records the current IP and then checks to see if it has changed at a regular interval, probably once per minute. If it does change it sends an update to the DDNS service advising it to update it's DNS/name resolution records.
Therefore whenever you connect/ ping / resolve you domain name, it returns the current IP.
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
Further to above, I didn't address the last part of your question.
There is nothing wrong with using the software method, and then you could continue to use the easydns services. I prefer the router method as it is independent of any other equipment and I believe it detects the changes more quickly. Unfortunately, most routers only support 2 or 3 service providers which is why you would have to switch if you want to use the router method.
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cwthornton1211Author Commented:
Thanks, RobWill. For the infrequent times I'll be using this, I'm leaning toward sticking with easydns and see if I can make it work. A couple of more questions and I promise I'll get out of everybody's hair:
1. Is there anything preventing me from using dyndns.com for the DDNS service that's compatible with the router, but keeping easydns for the other functions that I'm currently using?
2. Practically speaking, once this is set up, what do I actually type into Remote Desktop to access the computer?
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
1) That is fine. No reason at all you can't use both services, I would probably recommend it for your needs.
2) Just enter your new domain name from dyndns, or whom ever you choose, such as  mydomain.homedns.com  in the "computer" box of the Remote Desktop Connection application, and hit enter.  
When you do, you computer will not be able to resolve the name to the IP address, much like www.google.com,  so it connects to the Internet through your Internet Service Providers DNS server, to dyndns ,who returns the IP address, and connects you. It all takes a couple of seconds.
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Rob WilliamsCommented:
Thanks  cwthornton1211,
--Rob
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Charissa57Commented:
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Networking/Misc/Q_21788367.html?sfQueryTermInfo=1+connect+linksi+remot+window#a16289645

 I have successfully followed the helpful and clear instructions from RobWill 03.25.2006 at 12:55PM EST, ID: 16289645. I purchased an acct at dyndns for $12. I tested the process. Now I would like to know what to do next.

I am an elementary school learning specialist. I have a home computer and I would like to access it remotely from an office laptop.  An IT person, who is missing-in-action, set up a remote connection for me, which worked for about a week until my router (Linksys WRT54G) was accidently reset. I have broadband cable modem connection through Time Warner Cable and use Windows XP.
I am now trying to re-configure/establish the ability to establish a remote connection on my own.

Thank you so much


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Rob WilliamsCommented:
Charissa57, this is a closed question from 2 -1/2 years ago. You will need to open a new question of your own. If you do so, you can send a link to the address in my profile (click on RobWill) to bring it to my attention, should you wish to do so.
--Rob
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