Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Remote Desktop is configured to keep your home computer secure while you connect to it from a remote machine. Doing this correctly requires the right software and permissions.

I know there's far easier ways to do this, but I've always wanted to know how to connect to my home PC using just my IP (which I can ping and it's alive) and connect to launch Remote Desktop via DOS or whatever means, so that I can have that rich and gooey experience. This would be a cool function for use later down the road when I maybe forget to enable Remote Desktop.

In this excerpt from Answercast #5, I explain how Remote Desktop works and give several software recommendations. We also explore what it is you are actually pinging when you try to ping your IP address from a remote computer and why your router would block any access through that IP.

Secure connections

The short answer is, if you don't have Remote Desktop enabled on the target machine that you're trying to connect to, I don't know of a way to enable it remotely. That's a security feature.

You don't want somebody to be able to come in and randomly enable Remote Desktop on your machine. Not to mention that actually going to your machine also requires that you set up some kind of port forwarding on your router. For example, you indicated that you can ping using your IP, which is great, but chances are that it's not your computer that's responding. It's your router.

Your internet IP address is actually the IP address of your router. The router then handles making sure that the right PC gets the date, if in fact it's a valid data communication.

The short answer is I really don't think that there's a lot of luck going down the path you want to go.

An easier way to access your computer

As you indicated, there are far, far easier ways to do this and I'm going to suggest two of them. One is a utility called TeamViewer. It is free for personal use, expensive for corporate use. What you end up doing is installing it on the PC you want to connect to and it just runs. It starts automatically when you start Windows and then, using TeamViewer on a remote computer (which can be a PC; it can be a Mac; I've used it on my Android phones and tablets), you connect. It handles all of the magic of getting through the router and making sure that the right PC is actually connected to it at the remote end.

Another utility in that same vein is something called LogMeIn.

They're the folks who purchased Hamachi a while back, but they have similar technology, that again I believe is free for personal use, not quite as expensive for corporate use, that allows you to do essentially the same thing. You install LogMeIn on the computer that you want to connect to and then you can connect to it from any PC you have on the road.

LogMeIn has another scenario where, if you actually have two people involved (in other words, you get a call from a friend who wants your help supporting their computer), you can actually set up a session on the fly without having pre-installed anything.

They do something on their computer to start the software; you do something on your computer to connect to the software, and it allows you to make a dynamic remote desktop connection even if remote desktop isn't running. But, like I said, somebody needs to be at the computer who is authorized to turn on that remote access software.

So those are the kinds of solutions that I would strongly suggest that you look into instead of any kind of direct IP connection on your own.

Next - What incremental backup images should I delete?

Article C5155 - April 2, 2012 « »

Share this article with your friends:

Share this article on Facebook Tweet this article Email a link to this article
Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

4 Comments
PeterM42
April 3, 2012 8:47 AM

Dear Leo,

I use Logmein remote control (and Hamachi) extensively. Logmein is brilliant - The remote computer can be switched on remotely, after which you can then control it remotely. No local person needs to be involved as long as the target machine allows "wake-on-LAN".

The ability to access dual screens on the target machine can also be quite useful.

Regards,

PeterM

Marc
April 3, 2012 4:31 PM

I have used LogmeIn at different times to enable the boss to access his office PC when away in another city (Australia). I have found that LogmeIn is very slow, and, for example, trying to access an Access database or Lotus Notes email is a pain in the proverbial. The LogmeIn people were not able to help either. The only LogmeIn product that works reasonably well is remote support (whatever the actual product name is and which costs money). I also tried GoToMyPC which was even slower than LogmeIn.

Tom
April 3, 2012 9:53 PM

To quickly assist someone remotely, without installing and configuring a program, use the free version of showmypc. On their website, showmypc.com, click on the green button in the upper-left portion of the screen that says "show my pc-view remote pc" to download the 2.18mb file. Run the program on both computers. The target computer user will click on "show my pc now" to generate a password. The computer user attempting remote access will click on "view remote pc" and enter the previously generated password. The whole process only takes a matter of minutes and allows you to assist a friend in need. Normally stable and fast.

Simon
April 4, 2012 12:28 PM

It's easy enough to access your PC using RDP via a router (as long as Remote Desktop has been enabled on that PC).

Assign your PC a static IP address, then add a port forwarding rule to your router's configuration (by default, direct traffic for port 3389 to your PC's static IP), so that RDP arriving at the router is forwarded to the PC.

As someone mentioned above, a good enhancement to this configuration is to enable WOL on the target PC, so that you don't need to leave your PC on permanently. It could then be switched on either by a router with a built-in WOL client or by something like a Windows Home Server machine on your network.

Comments on this entry are closed.

If you have a question, start by using the search box up at the top of the page - there's a very good chance that your question has already been answered on Ask Leo!.

If you don't find your answer, head out to http://askleo.com/ask to ask your question.