If you’ve never used Remote Desktop, it’s a really great way to connect to another PC (office, home, etc.) remotely and get work done that you couldn’t get done unless you are in the machine. I frequently use remote desktop to connect to our office servers, connect to users’ computers to provide technical support, and connect to my personal computers at home to access files.
To use Remote Desktop, there are a few things you need to understand. First of all, remote desktop only works with Windows XP and Windows 2003. What I mean is that you can connect INTO only a Window XP or 2003 machine. You can use Windows 98, ME or 2000 to do this. connect INTO machine Windows XP or 2003, but you cannot connect INTO machine 98, ME or 2000 remotely. If you want to be able to connect to a Windows 2000 or earlier machine, you will have to purchase commercial software.
Since this post is over 7 years old, the above statement is outdated. You can also connect to a Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 machine. Additionally, as Microsoft recently ended support for Windows XP, this guide will become less useful as time goes on. If interested, check out my article on configuring remote desktop for Windows 8.
Second, you need to make sure that you are logged in as the computer administrator on the machine to set up remote access. If you brought your computer from the store or got it directly from the manufacturer, the first username you create is always the Administrator account.
An easy way to check if you are an Administrator is to go to Start, Control Panel and then click on User Accounts. You should see your username and it should be thereAdministrators” or “Computer administratorThe writing next to it.
Third, the administrator account on your machine must have a password. If you don’t have to enter a password to access Windows when you start your computer, you don’t have a password set up and Remote Desktop won’t work. Remote Desktop does not allow you to connect to a computer that has a user account that does not have a password.
When you go to User Accounts and click on the Administrator account, you will see an option to create a password for the account. Go ahead and do that before moving on.
Next, if the computer you are connecting to is running Windows XP SP3, then you need to open the firewall to allow remote desktop connections. To do this, go to Start, Dashboard, Windows Firewall and click Exception navigation.
Besure that Remote desktop checkbox is checked. The last thing that needs to be done for Remote Desktop to work properly is to tell Windows that we want to allow users to connect remotely. So far we have only fulfilled the requirements, but now we have to actually allow the remote desktop connection to this computer.
Go Start, Dashboardand click System. Click on the Remote tab and make sure that Allows users to connect remotely to this computer. box is checked. Don’t worry about clicking Select remote user button because Administrator has access by default. If you want to give remote access to a non-admin account, click that button and add a user.
And that’s it! Your computer is now set up for remote desktop! Try connecting to the XP machine from another computer on your home network first. To connect, go to another computer and click Start, All Programs, Accessories, Media and Remote desktop connection. If you want to connect to an XP machine from Windows Vista, Windows 7, or Windows 8, just click Start and do a search for remote desktop connection. On Windows 8, go to the Start Screen and start typing to perform a search.
In the dialog box, you can enter the computer’s IP address or name. The best way to connect is to enter your computer’s IP address. To get the IP address of the computer you want to connect to, go to the computer and click Start, Run and type in CMD.
In the black command window, type the wordipconfigWithout quotes as shown below and press Enter.
You’ll see your IP address listed along with some other information, but you don’t need to worry about that. Write that IP address (192.xxx or something like that) and type exactly that in the remote desktop text box on the other computer (the one you’re connecting from).
Click Connect and you will see the login screen pop up, that means you have successfully connected to another computer. You can now enter the Computer Administrator username and password.
If you get an error saying that the computer cannot accept new connections, etc., that means something is not configured correctly. Remember that you need to give the administrator account a password, open the port in the firewall, and check the box to allow remote connections in the box. System nature. All three items need to be done on the computer you want to connect TO.
Once you are able to connect from within the same network, you can now try to connect from outside. So if you want to connect to your home computer from the office, you can do that, but you’ll have to do a few extra things.
You must first get a Public IP Address (not the number 192.168.xx) and you can do this by going to the computer you want to connect to and navigating to the http://www website. whatismyip.com/ and this will give you your public IP address. This is an address that can be used from anywhere in the world to connect to your specific location and is unique. Unfortunately, on most home connections, this public IP address changes frequently and without notice. Basically to get around that you have to use dynamic DNS. I won’t go into detail in this article, but read my other articles on configuring it:
Configure Router for Dynamic DNS
What is Dynamic DNS and how to set it up
The second thing you have to do is open the port in your router (unless you connect the cable modem directly to your computer) and forward that port to the computer you want to connect to. This is how you would do this on a Netgear router (as I have) and the process is pretty much the same as for other routers, except that it might be called something else. Most manufacturers’ websites have an article on how to configure their specific router to forward ports because it’s so common.
You will need to log into your router by entering its IP address in the browser address bar. You can find out your router’s IP address by going to any computer on your network (that you want to connect to) and opening a command prompt like we did above and re-entering ipconfig. In addition to the IP Address field, you will also see Default Gatewaythis is your router From the above screenshot you can see mine is 192.168.244.2.
Type that address in your browser’s address bar as follows and press Enter:
You will most likely be prompted for a username and password. Usually you can find this in the documentation or on the bottom side of the router. For my Netgear router, the username is admin (lowercase) and the password is the password.
Once you’re in, you’ll see an option called Port Forwarding/Enable Ports or something very similar. I know Netopia calls these Pinholes and on Linksys it might be called Service or Applications.
Once you are on the Port Forwarding page, you can see different options/layouts. The basic parts will be named up front such as “Remote Desktop”, selecting the external and internal ports, the protocol and choosing the IP address for the device to which the data is supposed to be forwarded.
For remote desktops, you will always want to choose TCP for Protocol. By default, the remote desktop uses port 3389, so enter it in both the internal and export ports boxes. Finally, the internal IP address should be the IP address of the XP machine. On some setups, you will be asked for a start port, an end port, and an activation port. Just put 3389 for any port box.
Click Apply and you’re done! You can now use your public IP address (enter this address in Computer text box in the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box) to connect via router to your computer!
If you have any problems connecting remotely to your Windows XP machine, feel free to post a comment here and I’ll try to help. Enjoy!
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