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How to remotely access you home or office PC

There is no shortage to the number of methods one can use to remotely access another computer.  Now I’m not talking about any kind of Spyware, but rather remote control software or services which are perfectly safe, legal, and on the up and up.

If you are planning on connecting to your office PC remotely, please first check with your IT department’s security policies to see what is and is not allowed before installing anything on your machine.

Method #1: VPN to work network
VPN isn’t really a way to remotely access your PC’s desktop, but it will give you logical access to your work network.  From there you can access files and other network resources as if you were in the office.  This is the slowest of all three methods since every file you open first has to be downloaded over the internet.  But if configured properly, this is a very secure way to access your data remotely.

Many router/firewalls have built-in VPN host software built-in, to make it easy to connect remotely.  In this category I generally recommend hardware firewalls from Astaro which are fast, very secure, and have lots of fantastic features (such as several VPN protocols). If you don’t have this level of functionality, or want some additional functionality there are many other VPN options out there, like OpenVPN.  If you are uncomfortable in the world of VPNs but still want the security it provides, then check out Hamachi from the people at LogMeIn.

Method #2: Remote Desktop Services (RDS/RDP or Terminal Services)
Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Connection comes with just about every copy of Windows 7, Windows Vista, and Windows XP.  The newer versions of the Remote Desktop Connection software even allows for the connection to be encrypted (if supported by the host).  There is a big limitation to this, in that the incoming port (3389 by default) has to be opened on the firewall or router, and most often incoming rules have to be created.  This means it is often difficult to do this without the assistance of an IT Pro.  Often times this method is used in combination with a VPN connection for better security.

Method #3: 3rd Party Utilities or Services
There are a number of 3rd party utilities and services which will allow you to access your PC in a secure manner from just about any PC or laptop with internet access.  One of the most famous is GoToMyPC by Citrix.  For as little as a $9.95 monthly fee you can use this service to access your desktop, copy data, and print as if you were sitting in your office, but all from the comfort of your living room.  If you’re looking for a free option, then LogMeIn might be a good choice for you.  If you don’t mind giving up the file sharing and printing capabilities their LogMeIn Free service will give you the remote access service you need.

About the author

Robert Borges

About Robert...

I have been in the IT industry since 1993 focusing mainly in networking. Though I got an early start as an amateur computer enthusiast, and wrote my first database app at age 12, I started my professional career working in the MIS department of one of the largest liquor distributors in the northeast. I started out there as a systems operator on the company’s two mainframe systems. From there I moved into PC support, and help design and implement the company’s first client-server network… This was back in the days of Win NT 3.51. I also worked on my first migration to NT 4.0 back then.

From there I went on to work with Novell 3.x and 4.x along with Windows domains and active directory environments. Working my way up from technician, to specialist, to administrator, and eventually all the way up to Sr. Engineer. I spent many years working for consulting firms, 9 of which I owned and operated my own firm.
Over the years, I have worked with (at an expert level) various versions of: Windows client and server operating systems (including Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2);various virtualization technologies (Hyper-V, Virtual Server, Virtual PC, VMware, etc…); MS-SQL server 6.5- 2008 R2; Exchange 4-2010, and much more.

I am now Director of Information Systems at Bay State Integrated Technology focusing on cloud computing and IT service, with expertise in: IT Infrastructure & Architecture, IT Security, and Cloud Computing platforms & technologies (SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS).

I am in a constant state of learning about new products, and new versions of products. Many of which we end up implementing in lab environments and sometimes for our clients. I have a pretty broad range of expertise and experience. It is my goal to share some of this experience on this blog to help enrich the IT community.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.robertborges.us/2012/05/mobile-computing/how-to-remotely-access-you-home-or-office-pc-2/

1 comment

  1. Chris Petereson

    Excellent article. All the 3 methods listed above are valid for establishing remote connection; differentiating factor is the cost. VPN is costly, RDP client is used for accessing computers on same network and the last one 3rd party utility services such as logmein, RHUB remote support appliances http://www.rhubcom.com, gosupportnow etc. are widely used by businesses as they are easy to use, provides better remote connection stability, ease of offering remote support from anywhere etc.

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