How to Configure and Use Remote Desktop ?

Remote Desktop is designed to allow users to remotely gain access to a Windows XP Professional desktop from another computer on the network. After connecting to the remote desktop, a user sees the remote desktop in a window and can access files, folders, and applications on the remote computer. After a connection is established, the local desktop is locked for security reasons, preventing anyone from viewing the tasks that are being performed remotely.

Remote Desktop is designed to allow a user to have full control over a Windows XP Professional desktop from another computer on the network or even from the Internet. This is useful when a user is working from home, another office, or another site and requires access to information or programs on a primary office computer. While a user is remotely accessing a computer, local access by another user is not permitted. An exception to this is an administrator; administrators are permitted to log on locally while another user is connected remotely, but the remote session is then terminated. When you are connected to a computer via Remote Desktop, many of the resources on the host computer are available on the client computer. These resources include the following:

File System While you are connected to the remote host, the file system on the client computer can be made available. If you open My Computer on the host computer, you will see the hard drives for the client computer. This feature allows you to copy information between the host and client computer.

Audio generated on the host computer plays through the client computer’s sound system.

Port The applications running within the session can have access to the ports on the client computer, which allows them to access and manipulate printers, scanners, and other peripheral devices.

Printer The default local or network printer for the client computer becomes the default printing device for the Remote Desktop session. You print a document on the host computer to the printer connected to the client.

Clipboard The Remote Desktop host and the client computer share a Clipboard, which allows data to be copied between applications running on the remote computer and applications running on the client computer. Remote Desktop Requirements Remote Desktop requires the following :

1. A remote computer that is running Windows XP Professional and that is connected to a local area network (LAN) or the Internet. This is the computer to which you want to gain access remotely.

2. A client computer with access to the host computer through a LAN, dial-up, or virtual private network (VPN) connection that has the Remote Desktop Connection program or the Terminal Services Client installed. A version of the Remote Desktop Connection program is available for most versions of Windows. Just insert the Windows XP Professional installation CD-ROM on the client computer and select the option to install the Remote Desktop Connection software.

3. A user account with appropriate permissions. The user must be an administrator or a member of the Remote Users group, and have a password. How to Configure a Computer to Accept Remote Desktop Connections Remote Desktop configuration is a two-part process. First, you must configure the host computer to allow Remote Desktop connections. Then, you must configure the client computer with the Remote Desktop Connection client software. To configure a computer running Windows XP Professional to allow Remote Desktop connections, follow these steps :

1. From the Start menu (or from the desktop or in Windows Explorer), right-click My Computer and select Properties.

2. On the Remote tab, in the Remote Desktop section, select Allow Users To Connect Remotely To This Computer, as shown in below picture.

How to enable remote assistance

3. If the user account to be used to connect remotely is not a member of the Administrators group, click Select Remote Users, add the appropriate user account, and then click OK.

4. Click OK again.

Note  Verify that the user account to be used to connect remotely has a password assigned. User accounts used for remote connections must have passwords.If you are using Windows Firewall, you must configure it to allow Remote Desktop connections. If you are using another software firewall, or if there is a hardware firewall on your network, you must enable inbound connections on TCP port 3389 to support Remote Desktop connections. You can also change the port on which Remote Desktop accepts connections. For more information on changing this port number, read the Knowledge Base article, How to change the listening port for Remote Desktop

How to Connect to a Remote Computer ?

After a computer running Windows XP Professional is configured to allow Remote Desktop connections, you can connect to that computer by using the Remote Desktop Connection client software on another computer. From the Start menu, select All Programs, then Accessories, then Communications, and then Remote Desktop Connection. In the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box, click the Options button to display configurable options, as shown below picture. The only information that you must enter to establish a connection is the name or IP address of the computer. Other configurable options include the following :

How to connect to a remote computer

General options, including the user name, password, and domain name used for authentication and the ability to save connection settings

Display options, including the configuration of the size of the remote connection display (all the way up to full screen) and color settings

Local Resources options, including sound and keyboard configuration, and which local devices to connect to when logged on the remote computer

Programs options, which provide the ability to automatically launch a program when a connection is established

Experience options, which allow the configuration of the connection speed to optimize performance, and provide the ability to control the display of the desktop background, themes, menu and windows animation, and other items that can affect performance

To use the Remote Desktop Connections client, use these steps:

1. From the Start menu, select All Programs, then Accessories, then Communications, and then Remote Desktop Connection.

2. In the Remote Desktop Connection dialog box, see below picture, enter the name or IP address of the remote computer and click Connect.

Remote desktop connection

3. When prompted, enter the appropriate user account and password, and then click OK.

4. If another user is currently logged on to the remote system, a Logon Message dialog box appears, indicating that in order to continue, that user must be logged off and any unsaved data will be lost. If this occurs, click Yes to continue.

5. The Remote Desktop session is established. shown below picture displays a remote connection window.

Remote desktop connection

How to Configure and Use Remote Assistance ?

The Remote Assistance feature allows a user to request help from an expert user. Unlike with Remote Desktop, in Remote Assistance, the user needing help must issue an invitation to the other user and the other user must accept the invitation. After the connection is established, the expert user can take shared control of the user’s desktop, chat with the user, and send and receive files. Taking shared control of the desktop requires the user’s permission. Remote Assistance can minimize or eliminate the need to physically visit a remote computer to solve a problem.

How to Establish a Remote Assistance Session ?

A Remote Assistance session requires that both the user needing help and the expert user actively participate in establishing the connection. The session is established in the following phases :

1. The user that needs help sends a Remote Assistance invitation to the expert user.

2. The expert user responds to the invitation.

3. The user accepts the expert user’s assistance.To send a Remote Assistance invitation, use these steps :

1. From the Start menu, select Help And Support.

2. In the Help And Support Center, under Ask For Assistance, select Invite A Friend To Connect To Your Computer With Remote Assistance, and then select Invite Someone To Help You.

3. Select the method that you want to use to create the invitation, as shown in below picture. You can send invitations directly by using Windows Messenger, by using an e-mail attachment, or by saving an invitation file and transmitting it to the helper user (for example, you could save the file to a shared folder on the network).

How to establish a remote assistance session

4. When prompted, enter the requested information, including your name, a message, when the invitation should expire, and (optionally) a password to be used to establish the connection.

5. Click Send Invitation.

Note When an invitation is sent through an e-mail attachment or saved as a file, the file has a .MsRcIndicent extension.

An expert user must respond to an invitation to continue the process. If the invitation is by using Windows Messenger, you must accept the invitation that is presented in the Messenger pop-up window. If the invitation is sent by e-mail, you must open the attached invitation. If the invitation file is transmitted in some other fashion, you must access and open it. If a password is required, you must enter the password in the Remote Assistance dialog box.

Tip Using Windows Messenger to establish a Remote Assistance connection is the easiest method because the Windows Messenger connection can usually be established regardless of whether there are firewalls on either the user’s or the expert helper’s network. If you use another method of establishing a Remote Assistance session, you must configure a firewall to allow the connection. Like Remote Desktop, Remote Assistance uses TCP port 3389 by default.

Windows then notifies the user requiring assistance that the request has been accepted. The user must click Yes in the Remote Assistance dialog box as a final indication of acceptance, and Remote Assistance then establishes the connection.


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  3. Remote Desktop is a great tool designed to improve data management and access. However, its limitation to Windows is a detriment due to its lack of multi-platform features. Its ability to lock the local desktop prevents unwanted security breaches of remote desktop software.

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