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Control Your Home Computer From Anywhere In The World
September 22, 2002
Picture this. You're sitting in a cafe in Amsterdam and you feel like logging into the computer sitting on the oak desk in your upscale Boston suburban neighborhood.
A window opens on your screen, displaying your suburbanized Windows desktop, complete with the background picture of you and your trophy wife skiing in Aspen, Colorado.
You open Microsoft Excel and check out those sales forecasts for the 3rd quarter, the ones you forgot to bring with you to Europe.
It's as if you were actually sitting at home, in your leather chair, using your computer. Impossible? Expensive?
Nah, the software to do this been around for a while, and it's absolutely free. It takes about 3 minutes to get it all up and running, just use my tutorial.
What do I need?
The computer you want to access needs to have a permanent 'net connection. (ADSL, cable, etc).
You also need to know the IP address of that computer. It's really easy to figure out. Go to the computer you want to have access to, and check out the website: WhatIsMyIP.com.
This site will tell you the IP address of the computer that you're using. Grab a pen and paper, and write it down, we'll be using it later.
Ok, I'm sitting in front of the computer that I want to access from a far-away land. Now what?
The program you're going to install is called TightVNC.
Go to the TightVNC download page and scroll down to where it says Windows version. (Assuming you're using Windows of course.)
Now, click on the Installer [EXE] link. Your computer should begin downloading automatically.
Save the EXE file somewhere on your hard drive. When it's finished downloading, click on Open. (Or use Windows explorer to find the location you saved it to, and double-click on it).
Welcome to the TightVNC Setup Wizard
Select Destination Directory
Select Start Menu Folder
Select Additional Tasks
Ready To Install
Now, on your Windows start menu you will have a new program group called TightVNC.
Inside that program group you will see a sub-menu called Administration.
Under the Administration menu, choose Install Default Registry Settings
So you would go: Start -> Programs -> TightVNC - > Administration -> Install Default Registry Settings
This is a one time thing, you won't have to do it again.
Now, from the TightVNC menu, choose Launch TightVNC Server.
So you would go: Start -> Programs -> TightVNC -> Launch TightVNC Server
Beside the Password box, enter in the password you would like to use later on when logging into this computer remotely.
It is VERY IMPORTANT that you choose a long password (8 or more characters) that is very hard to guess. It is best to use random letters and numbers. Go to the Windows Security Password Generator Website if you want one to be made for you.
Once you have entered a password, click Apply and then OK.
TightVNC will minimize to an icon in your system tray.
Now what? Did you remember to grab your IP address from WhatIsMyIP.com ?
Got it? Excellent, now you can go to any computer in the world with Internet access, and use this computer remotely.
Once again, go to the TightVNC download page and download TightVNC to the computer you're on now. The computer that's somewhere else, whether it's on the other side of the house, or the other side of the world.
Install TightVNC again, just like you did above. Except this time, when you get to the step where you launched the TightVNC server, you do something else instead.
From the TightVNC program menu, choose TightVNC Viewer (best compression)
So you go: Start -> Programs -> TightVNC -> TightVNC Viewer (best compression)
Now, remember that IP address I asked you to write down? This is where you enter it. Go ahead, enter it in.
Now, click OK. It will ask you for your session password.
Enter in the password you created above, and click OK.
A window should now open up, and look, it's the desktop from your other computer! Go ahead and control it, as if you were sitting in right in front of it!
Cool, what about cross-platform compatibility?
That's the cool thing about this program. You can download the VNC viewer for Macintosh, and use it to log in to a Windows computer (or vice versa).
Any of the VNC clients can connect to any VNC server.
There is also VNC server/client software for:
- Windows CE
- even a Java viewer!
You will find them at the VNC download page.
Where can I find more info?
VNC Home Page
Frequently Asked Questions about VNC