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How to cre­ate a remote desktop con­nec­tion to your home

Ever wanted to access your home com­puter when you’re away from home? If you have a home net­work, you can use Remote Desktop Con­nec­tion to access your home PCs from out­side the net­work. This can be handy when you’re trav­el­ing or at work.

Note

There are six steps you’ll need to fol­low to set this up. Each one is explained in detail below.

  1. Allow remote con­nec­tions to the com­puter you want to access.
  2. Make sure Remote Desktop is able to com­mu­nic­ate through your fire­wall.
  3. Find the IP address of the com­puter on your home net­work that you want to con­nect to.
  4. Open your router­’s con­fig­ur­a­tion screen and for­ward TCP port 3389 to the des­tin­a­tion com­puter­’s IP address.
  5. Find your router­’s pub­lic IP address so that Remote Desktop can find it on the Inter­net. To do this I typ­ic­ally use DYN Devices: Remote Access. It costs $25, but it is so easy to use and really reli­able.
  6. Open Remote Desktop Con­nec­tion and con­nect.

Allow remote con­nec­tions to the com­puter you want to access

To access one com­puter from anoth­er com­puter, you first need to allow remote con­nec­tions on the com­puter you want to access, which must be run­ning one of the fol­low­ing ver­sions of Win­dows:

  • Win­dows XP Pro­fes­sion­al edi­tion
  • Win­dows Vista Busi­ness, Ulti­mate, or Enter­prise edi­tion
  • Win­dows 7 Pro­fes­sion­al, Ulti­mate, or Enter­prise edi­tion

On the com­puter you want to access, fol­low these steps:

  1. Open Sys­tem by click­ing the Start but­ton Picture of the Start button, right-click­ing Com­puter, and then click­ing Prop­er­ties.
  2. In the left pane, click Remote set­tings. Administrator permission required If you’re promp­ted for an admin­is­trat­or pass­word or con­firm­a­tion, type the pass­word or provide con­firm­a­tion.
  3. Under Remote Desktop, select one of the options to allow con­nec­tions. For more inform­a­tion about these options, seeWhat types of Remote Desktop con­nec­tions should I allow?
  4. Click Select Users.
  5. In the Remote Desktop Users dia­log box, click Add.
  6. In the Select Users or Groups dia­log box, do one or more of the fol­low­ing:
    • To spe­cify the search loc­a­tion, click Loc­a­tions.
    • To spe­cify the types of objects (user names) that you want to search for, click Object Types.
    • In the Enter the object names to select box, type the user name that you want to search for, and then click Check Names. If the user name isn’t found, click Advanced to run an advanced search.
  7. When you find the cor­rect name, click OK.The name will be dis­played in the list of users in the Remote Desktop Users dia­log box.
  8. Click OK, and then click OK again.

Make sure Remote Desktop is able to com­mu­nic­ate through your fire­wall

If you’re using Win­dows Fire­wall, fol­low these steps:

  1. Click the Start but­ton Picture of the Start button, click Con­trol Pan­el, type “fire­wall” in the search box, and then click Win­dows Fire­wall.
  2. Click Allow a pro­gram or fea­ture through Win­dows Fire­wall.
  3. Under Allowed pro­grams and fea­tures, scroll down to Remote Desktop and make sure its check box is selec­ted.
  4. Under Home/​Work (Private), make sure the check box next to Remote Desktop is selec­ted.

If you’re using a non-Microsoft fire­wall, refer to the instruc­tions that came with your fire­wall.

Find the IP address of the com­puter on your home net­work

Next, determ­ine the IP address of the des­tin­a­tion computer—the one you want to con­nect to.

  1. Click the Start but­ton Picture of the Start button, click Con­trol Pan­el, type “net­work” in the search box, and then click Net­work and Shar­ing Cen­ter.
  2. Next to Con­nec­tions, click the link for your cur­rent net­work con­nec­tion (either Wire­less Net­work Con­nec­tion or Loc­al Area Con­nec­tion).
  3. Click Details.
  4. Write down the IP address lis­ted next to IPv4 Address. You’ll need this address when you turn on port for­ward­ing.

For­ward TCP port 3389 to the des­tin­a­tion com­puter­’s IP address

To allow remote con­nec­tions from out­side of your home net­work, you need to set up your router to for­ward remote access requests to the com­puter that you want to con­nect to.

  1. On any home net­work com­puter that’s con­nec­ted to the Inter­net, open a web browser and type the intern­al IP address of your router. This address will usu­ally be 192.168.1.1, 192.168.0.1, or 192.168.2.1. Refer to the instruc­tions that came with your router if you need more inform­a­tion about access­ing the router­’s con­fig­ur­a­tion screen.
  2. Type the router admin­is­trat­or user name and pass­word.
  3. In the router­’s con­fig­ur­a­tion screen, look for a place to turn on port for­ward­ing (also called port map­ping).
  4. For­ward TCP port 3389, the default port for Remote Desktop Con­nec­tion, to the IP address of the home com­puter you want to access from out­side the net­work.

To access more than one of your home com­puters from out­side the net­work, you can for­ward an addi­tion­al TCP port to each addi­tion­al com­puter. For example, you can for­ward TCP port 3390 to a second com­puter, TCP port 3391 to a third com­puter, and so on. Then change the listen­ing port, the port that Remote Desktop listens to for incom­ing net­work traffic that matches that port, on each com­puter to match the num­ber you assigned. When you use Remote Desktop Con­nec­tion to con­nect to these com­puters, type the IP address of the router, fol­lowed by a colon and the port num­ber (for example, 208.147.66.254:3390).

Chan­ging the listen­ing port is also help­ful as a secur­ity meas­ure, since a mali­cious user might first try port 3389, the default for Remote Desktop Con­nec­tion. By chan­ging the listen­ing port, the mali­cious user has to guess which port you’ve chosen. For inform­a­tion about chan­ging the listen­ing port, see How to change the listen­ing port for Remote Desktop on the Microsoft web­site.

Find your router­’s pub­lic IP address

While you’re still at home and con­nec­ted to your home net­work, open a web browser and search for “find IP address” to find a ser­vice that will report your router­’s pub­lic IP address. Unfor­tu­nately, some com­puters are giv­en a dif­fer­ent IP address each time they con­nect to the Inter­net. An Inter­net ser­vice pro­vider (ISP) can use a few IP addresses to serve many cus­tom­ers that way, but it means that your com­puter­’s address on the Inter­net is always chan­ging.

To get around the prob­lem of a fre­quently chan­ging IP address, try a DNS dynam­ic update ser­vice, which allows you to assign a URL to your router that you can use instead of an IP address. The URL stays the same no mat­ter how often the IP address changes. To find a ser­vice, search for “DNS dynam­ic update” on the Inter­net.

Open Remote Desktop Con­nec­tion and con­nect

Now you’re ready to actu­ally make the con­nec­tion. Fol­low these steps on a com­puter out­side of your net­work:

  1. Click the Start but­ton Picture of the Start button, type “remote” in the search box, and then click Remote Desktop Con­nec­tion.
  2. Type the router­’s pub­lic IP address in the Com­puter field (fol­lowed by a colon and the new port num­ber, if you’ve changed the listen­ing port; for example, 208.147.66.254:3390).
  3. Log on to the remote com­puter as you nor­mally do.

 

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