TightVNC, to gain remote access to your computer

Have you, as I have, ever wanted to be able to connect to your computer when you were not at home but been unable to do so? Or do you have friends who solicit your help in knowing how to use or perhaps fix some problem on their computer? If so, then what I’m about to introduce you to could prove very valuable to you.

TightVNC is a free remote control software package that enables you to see the desktop of a remote machine and control it with your local mouse and keyboard, just like you would if you were sitting in the front of that computer. It is simple to set up the VNCServer (which is password protected) on your home machine, for instance, and you can take the VNCViewer with you on a floppy disk and run it from any computer to connect to your home machine. This page shows some screen shots of the components of the program.

Last night, my friend Josh Yonce and I experimented with accessing each other’s computer remotely using this software and found it to be very cool. Because both of us are behind routers and both of us are using Windows XP, we had to tinker with the settings for a while to gain access to the other’s computer, but eventually we figured out the right combination which opens up a whole range of possibilities to those with a little imagination.

Most of us get a new IP address each time we log onto the Internet through our Internet Service Provider (ISP), the so-called dynamic IP address. This means that you can’t always count on the fact that you are at the same location on the Internet all the time. You can find out what your IP address at several places on the Internet, but one of them is in the Tools section of DSL Reports at this link. If you click that link, the page you end up on will tell you the IP address that accessed that page, and that will be your IP address. The reason it is important to know you IP address on your home machine is that it is required to use the VNCViewer and therefore to be able to log into your machine remotely. Fortunately, there is another free service called No-IP.com that you can use to always stay current with your dynamically changing IP address. You can check out that service here.

One thing Josh and I discovered while we were tinkering last night is that this program will not work if you have Remote Administration turned on on your XP machine. By default that setting is OFF for most installations of XP, but if you have turned it on for any reason, you’ll have to turn it off to be able to use the TightVNC package.

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