Beginners Guides: Remote Access to Computers

Beginners Guides: Remote Access to Computers Learn to control you PC from a 1000 miles

Beginners Guides: Remote Access to Computers


Learn to control you PC from a 1000 miles away – Version 1.2.0

Have you ever arrived at
school or the copiers with your floppy or CD and discovered that
your latest paper did not exactly make a successful transition from the
hard drive? Ever been away from home and wished you could get at your computer
for just a second to get some contact info? There are any number of reasons why
setting up your computer for remote access is a good idea, and PCstats is going
to show you how to do it.

The ability to access files and information on your
computer over the Internet is useful for work and play, as well as
being just plain impressive in a geeky kind of way. Several technologies are
available to enable this kind of access. They range from from the shared file
system built into most versions of Windows up to the proprietary systems
developed for such software packages as PCanywhere by Symantec.

Generally, these technologies fall into one of two
categories;
1) accessing files remotely
2) accessing and controlling the desktop remotely

File access is (quite obviously) intended to allow
you to access your files from a remote location using the Internet, while remote
control of the desktop brings the entire desktop of your home computer over to
the computer you are currently using, allowing you to use your home computer as
if you were currently sitting in front of it. At least, that’s the idea
anyway.

This article will cover using the remote access
features included in Windows XP, as well as VNC (Virtual Network Computing) and
other third party software to allow you to control and access your computer over
the Internet from anywhere in the world.

What exactly is a remote desktop? Well, the idea of remote desktop software is to enable you
to operate your home computer as if you were seated in front of
it, from a remote, internet-enabled computer.

Ideally, the entire working
environment of your computer is brought over the wire to wherever you are currently sitting, eliminating
the need for synchronizing files between laptops and desktops. Whether you are working away from
home or office, or simply allowing users to access their data from any
web enabled location it doesn’t matter.

Current
remote desktop software does have some drawbacks. The most major of which is the
simple fact that the current technology does not allow for
lag-free control of a computer over a remote
connection.

Invariably the computing experience will be slower using remote control software
than it would be if the user were seated in
front of the actual machine. This is the case because of the time it takes to
transfer each move of the mouse and keystroke over a standard 10/100 network connection, and
to return the results. The slower the connection (or father away the computers),
the less responsive it will be.

Development and tuning of remote access software has been
ongoing for many years, and arguably the most well known (free) implementation
of this is VNC , or Virtual Network Computing. VNC
is a free multi-platform remote control package which enables you to view and
interact with a remote computer. It will run on most known operating systems and
requires very little computing power.


VNC has
two components, the server and the viewer. The VNC server allows other
computers to connect with your computer remotely, and the VNC viewer connects with the server and must
be installed on the client machines. The viewer authenticates with the server
using a session password, which is set when the VNC server is opened.

Generally
speaking, VNC connections over the Internet are not secure, since the
traffic sent is not encrypted in any way. Thus, it is not advisable to use them
for sensitive data. In practice, though, it’s fine for everyday use. Using a form
of encrypted connection such as a VPN (Virtual Private Network) is recommended
for business use. The use of VPNs will covered in an upcoming guide on PCstats.

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