How to Use Remote Desktop

Level of difficulty: Intermediate

The Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) allows users to connect remotely to another computer via the Internet. It creates a client-server relationship, with the requesting computer as the client and the machine being accessed as the server. A variation of the Remote Desktop feature has been integrated in some releases of the Windows XP and Windows Vista Operating System.

Materials Needed:
- Integrated or standalone Remote Desktop program
- Internet access
- administrative privileges on both computers
- pen (optional)
- paper (optional)
Step 1
Check the Operating System installed in the computer to be accessed. This will dictate if an integrated application can be activated or if a standalone program needs to be installed. Windows Vista, Windows XP Professional, and Windows XP Media Center Edition already have Remote Desktop installed.
Step 2
There are a number of remote desktop programs available in the market. These allow users to connect any configuration of Operating Systems varying from Windows, Mac, and Linux to UNIX. Users just need to find the application compatible with their computer and install it.
Step 3
Standalone remote desktop software will instruct users how to set up a client and a server. Most will require users to set local and network passwords to protect the remote connection. Some will ask exceptions to be added to the firewall to give the client access to the server. Once this is done, the remote connection can be used to access server at any time.
Step 4
If the computer to be accessed already has the Remote Desktop feature, make sure the computer that will act as the client is enabled to access the connection. Additional software needs to be downloaded and installed for the Operating Systems Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 98 Second Edition, Windows Me, Windows NT 4.0, and Windows 2000. Client programs can also be downloaded for use on Macintosh computers. These files can be downloaded for free from the Microsoft website.
Step 5
Enabling the Remote Desktop on the computer will make it more accessible via the Internet. Before doing so, make sure to protect the system. Use secure logins for the system and router access. A strong password uses a mix of random numbers, letters, and symbols more than 10 characters long. The Remote Desktop requires that the user account in the server computer must be password-protected.
Step 6
To enable Remote Desktop on a server running Windows Vista, simply go to the System tool. This can be done by right clicking on the 'Computer' icon and choosing Properties or typing system in the start menu box. Click on the 'Remote Settings' link to open a dialogue box.
Step 7
Windows Vista will give several options for the Remote Desktop connection. The first will be the default, which is to disable the feature. The other two options depend on the client that will be used to connect to the server. If the client is running on Windows XP or 2000, the second option should be chosen. This is listed as 'Allow connections from computers running any version of Remote Desktop (less secure)'. If the client is also running on a Windows Vista platform, the third option can be chosen. This option is to 'Allow connections only from computers running Remote Desktop with Network Level Authentication (more secure)'. Once the proper choice has been made, click on 'Apply' then 'OK'.
Step 8
To enable Remote Desktop on a server running Windows XP, go to System Properties. Click the 'Remote' tab. At the lower part of the dialogue box, check the option to 'Allow users to connect remotely to this computer'. Click 'Apply' then Click 'OK'.
Step 9
A Windows Firewall exception needs to be added for Windows XP Remote Desktop servers. Access the Security Center in the Control Panel, and choose Windows Firewall. In the General tab, make sure the 'Don’t allow exceptions' option is unmarked. Access the 'Exceptions' tab and check the 'Remote Desktop' option. Click on 'Apply' then 'OK'.
Step 10
Note the computer name of the Remote Desktop-enabled server. This can be found in 'System Properties', under the 'Computer Name' tab. If necessary, write down the full computer name so as not to forget it.
Step 11
Use the client computer. Access 'Accessories' from 'All Programs' list. Then, choose 'Communications' and click 'Remote Desktop Connection'. Type the full computer name of the server and click 'Connect'. A dialog box will appear, prompting the user to enter the username and password for the server. Type in the correct data and click 'OK'. Once the login has been completed, the user will have remote access to the server computer.


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