|December 21, 2003
Ever wish that you could
access your computer remotely from over the network or Internet?
If you are using Windows XP Professional, you can easily do that.
Using Remote Desktop, you can connect to your Windows XP Professional computer
over the network or Internet and you'll have full control over your computer
just as if you were sitting in front of it. Remote Desktop is based
on Terminal Services which was included in Windows 2000 Advanced Server.
However, this new Remote Desktop has a few new upgrades and features.
This guide covers the fundamentals
of Windows XP Remote Desktop, shows you how to setup the host computer
and client computer, for both Remote Desktop Standard and Remote Desktop
There are a few parts to
the Remote Desktop setup:
Remote Desktop Host
This computer must
be running Windows XP Professional. It is the one that you'll be
connecting to from a different computer. This is called the Host
Remote Desktop Client
This computer is
the one that you are using to connect to the Remote Desktop Host.
This computer can run any operating system, it doesn't need to run Windows
XP Professional. It can be using Win 95, 98, SE, ME, 2000, etc.
This is the Client computer.
You can use Remote
Desktop on a local network or across the Internet. The faster your
network or Internet connection is, the better response you'll get and the
more pleasant your experience will be.
Now, there are 2 types of Remote
Remote Desktop Standard
In the Standard
setup, the Host computer has Remote Desktop enabled and listens to port
3389 which is the Remote Desktop Host uses to communicate to the client.
In order to connect to this Remote Desktop Host, the client computer must
use the Remote Desktop Client software which can be installed from either
the Windows XP Professional CD-ROM or downloaded from the Microsoft website.
In the Web setup,
the Host computer has Remote Desktop enabled, but also has the Remote Desktop
Web Host Connection running through Internet Information Services (IIS
5.1). The host then runs through port 3389 and also port 80 (or whatever
you specify). The client computer can then connect to the Remote
Desktop Web Host by accessing a special webpage which will download a ActiveX
control that is similar to Remote Desktop (Standard) Client. If you
have Remote Desktop Web Host running, you can connect to that host from
both the Remote Desktop Standard Client or through the Remote Desktop Web
Here are some considerations:
The Remote Desktop Standard
Client can be made into a shortcut on your desktop with username and password
included so with a double-click, you can instantly connect to the Remote
The Remote Desktop Standard
Client has more features features than the Remote Desktop Web Client.
Such features include hard drive, printer, and sound mapping customization.
You can also customize connection speed.
Running Remote Desktop Standard
only requires port 3389 to be open. Running Remote Desktop Web Host
requires 3389 + a web port for IIS.
Don't have to use IIS which
isn't all that secure unless you keep it fully patched.
Must install Remote Desktop
Standard Client software on the client computer. May not always be
possible or desirable to do so.
Basically, Remote Desktop Standard
is good if you plan on remotely connecting to the Remote Desktop Host from
the same computer every time. If you plan on accessing the Remote
Desktop Host from many different computers, then the Remote Desktop Web
Host is for you. However, if you do choose this path, it is a good
idea for you to change the default port number of the IIS webserver from
80 to something else so that attackers won't be attracted to your site
unnecessarily. Also, you must be vigilant about keeping your computer
Can connect to the Remote Desktop
Web Host from any computer with any Windows OS that has Internet Explorer
5 or later. This is the main draw for Remote Desktop Web.
Can use either Remote Desktop
Web Client or Remote Desktop Standard Client.
Have to use IIS which may not
be fully secure.
May be more vulnerable to attackers.
Remote Desktop Web Client has
less features than Remote Desktop Standard Client (but you can still use
the Standard Client).
Desktop Host Connection:
The Remote Desktop Host
has to have a permanent, always-on connection to the Internet. It
doesn't really matter if it's a static or dynamic IP number. You
can connect the client to the host by either IP number or domain name.
Of course, remembering a IP number is always hard so it is a good idea
to connect your IP number to a domain name. If you have a static
IP address, then connecting a domain name is easy. If you have a
dynamic IP address, then you can use one of the various dynamic domain
name services out there which will associate your domain or subdomain to
your dynamic IP number. There are guides on how to do both on this
If you have a router, you
must forward the proper ports to the Remote Desktop Host. If you
are running Remote Desktop Standard, then you need to forward only port
3389. If you are using Remote Desktop Web, then you need to forward
both port 3389 and port 80 (or whatever you choose the IIS website to run
on). There are guides on port forwarding on this website as well.
Also there is an additional guide here that may be of interested to you:
Desktop - Changing the Port Number (for security and multiple hosts)
Ok, now that we know what
Remote Desktop is all about, let's get started.
Regardless if you choose
Remote Desktop Standard or Web version, we have to start at the same place:
Remote Desktop (Standard) Host