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spacer features > > remote tech support > > remote desktop

Remote Tech Support: Grandpa's New Computer

Remote Desktop Access

If you're like us, there are times when you're trying to remotely trouble-shoot a problem, and you wish you could either see the same problem that your grandfather is describing, or even better, just sit own in front of his machine, and fix it yourself. Windows XP Pro offers that ability, with a feature called Remote Desktop. With this feature enabled, you can be 10,000 miles away, and bring up the remote computer's screen in a window on your own computer. Then you can make any changes you want, before returning control of the machine to the person actually sitting in front of it.

What's required? The remote machine must be running Windows XP Pro; your computer can be running Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me, Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, or any flavor of Windows XP, and it will need a free downloadable remote desktop client from Microsoft. (You may already have it, as part of a Service Pack patch.)

To enable this service on the new machine you are setting up, place a checkmark in the Remote Desktop box in the Windows Personal Firewall. To do so, go to Start > Control Panel > Windows Firewall > General. Make sure that the Personal Firewall is turned on, and that the "Don't allow exceptions" box is NOT checked. Then go to the Exceptions tab, and place a checkmark in the Remote Desktop box. Then click OK.

Next, set up the Remote Desktop Client on your own computer. After installing it, it can probably be found in the Communications sub-folder, in the Accessories folder in Programs. To connect to the new computer, you will ultimately need the computer's final IP address (i.e. not the IP address it will have while connected to your home local area network.) But to test the Remote Desktop capability, its OK to put in the current IP address. To find it, make sure the new computer is connected to your LAN, then open an MSDOS window, by going to Start > Run and entering the program name, cmd.exe. When the DOS window opens, type the command ipconfig, like this:

###########################################
C:\Documents and Settings\Owner>ipconfig

Windows IP Configuration

Ethernet adapter Local Area Connection:

        Connection-specific DNS Suffix  . :
        IP Address. . . . . . . . . . . . : 192.168.000.6
###########################################

The machine's IP address in this case is 192.168.000.6

Write it down. Close the DOS window. Then copy the IP address into the box after the word Computer: on the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box on your computer. Click on the Options button on the client. Enter your father's user name, and the Windows password you set-up on his computer, then click on the Connect Button.

If the two machines are sitting side-by-side on your desk while you are working on them, you will see your father's screen magically change into his Windows logon screen, and your computer will now feature a window that displays the desktop previously shown on your father's computer! You now control his computer, and can see and solve the problem you were previously trying to imagine.

Seveal caveats if this is to work:

  • both computers need to be connected to the Internet.

  • his computer must be protected with a password you know, and since the computer can now be accessed remotely, the password should not be shared with anyone else.

  • you will need to know the remote computer's IP address. It will NOT be the IP address you just discovered when the computer was connected to your home local area network! Be careful; depending on the type of remote ISP connection, his IP address may be different everytime he connects to the Internet -- this especially common with dial-up connections.

Remote Desktop Access is a wonderful tool for those cases when you just can't picture the problem, or explain the solution.


Next, Record keeping.



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