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Can I make remote PCs check-in to me over the Internet

Hello, I have around 30 computers around Oregon that are set-up as Internet kiosks.  I would like to have a way to check them to see if they are alive, and their current IP address...   I realize there are solutions like pcanywhere and no-ip.com, but at around 30 systems (and growing) that adds up quick.  I have VNC installed on the machines and when I can get the IP address,  I just enable the port forwarding remotely on the router and then access the machine (by the way, is that a good idea?) ... i really just need a way to make all my machines check-in to me automatically and regularly.... with a very small memory overhead..
...oh yeah.. all machines are running XP PRO..
thanks guys,
4 Solutions
If it helps, what you are talking about is typically called a heartbeat.  A heartbeat is typically a continuously running program that sends a message to other systems saying that it is still alive.  Heartbeats are common between clusters.  I would think there may be heartbeats for remote systems such as yours that would send periodic messages to you.  At a glance, I did not see them.  Hopefully, this information will hlep you find one.
If there were no routers, I would use www.mcafeeasap.com (they may all need anti-virus software) and it will tell you they're alive, protected (at least daily), but unfortunately only provides the IP address in the private subnet (which is why public and no router).  You could configure the mcafee firewall remotely to only allow access from your central office so it would even be safer.  With just the default xp firewall it would also be possible not to need to use a router, but you would have more control with the mcafeeasap firewall (which I don't currently use, I just use the antivirus).

For security you can configure VNC to only allow connections from certain machines (so only your office would be allowed to connect), but I would use the built-in remote desktop to access these machines and certainly not use PCAnywhere which I would think is prohibitive because of the cost.  The firewall aspect of www.mcafeeasap.com would

Ultimately, I would probably just setup my own dynamic dns ($80 from www.simpledns.com) then use remote desktop which is encrypted unlike vnc and is free unlike pcanywhere and integrated nicely into the operating system not some extra piece (finally, mcafeeasap.com would be a very good final addition for protection).  Setting up a VPN between all the systems and perhaps a domain for better management may be an option -- again I would look at doing it just using built in native windows network.

cyberstationsAuthor Commented:
Thanks for the quick reply guys.  The term "Heartbeat" helps alot as I have been searching under "monitoring" and "remote check-in" and wasnt getting anywhere close.  ....  As far as using the remote control built into XP.... I guess I just figured it wasnt as safe as a 3rd party one.. is it?

Anyone use any good "Heartbeat" programs that can work over the internet to remote computers?

Many Mahalos,
kadadi_vIT AdminCommented:
Check with this network management software :-



The other workaround of heartbeat is using a Secure VNC. The mobile users would have the client installed. I'm guessing your computer has a fix ip. You run the server which will be listening to the clients connection. Whenever the users log on to the internet, either have them manually or have a script run this client. It will automatically establish a connection to the mentioned server. You then have to use the vnc, key in the password and connect to that particular mobile user.
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