If you need to move files back and forth from your home to another location and back again, or if you want to be able to send a large file to a friend or group of friends that won’t fit in an e-mail, then a FTP (File Transfer Protocol) Server is the solution you need. As with all remote access solutions you’ll need a FTP Server on the computer with the files you want to access and a FTP client on the computer you want to access the files from. An excellent free FTP server and client is Filezilla. You’ll also want to check out the documentation for help in getting setup, but in general you’ll need to:
- Download and install the server on the computer you want to host your data from
- Setup a user account and password (avoid Admin or Administrator) for each user you want to give access to
- Restrict each users access to only the folders on the server that they will need to access
- Know your IP address or setup a DynDNS account and will need to forward port 21 to your local box.
- Download and install the client on the computer you want to have access to your FTP Server.
- Fill in the IP/Hostname your User Name and Password, set the port to 21 and connect!
- You’ll see file system your your local computer on the left and the server on the right, drag and drop files between them as needed.
This is a gross simplification of this process so check out the Filezilla documentation and look for a more detailed post some time in the future.
If you aren’t runnning a version of Windows that has the RDP Server (none of the Home Editions do) or if you are running a non-windows OS, then a version of VNC might be just the tool you need for remote access. There are several different flavors of VNC available, all work pretty much the same way and will work together even between different operating systems. Here is a good list of VNC versions, and other remote control software, with links for more information and downloads. VNC is NOT speedy, you will notice some lag even on fast connections but it’s still usable and it deffinately gets the job done.
To get VNC to work you need a server installed on the machine you want to control and viewer installed on the machine you want to view from. If you are planning on controlling your home computer from away from home then you will need to need to know your IP address or setup a DynDNS account and will need to forward port 5900 to your local box.
Make sure to set up a strong password! You wouldn’t want anyone that guesses your IP address to be able to remote control your home computer and have access to all of your personal files!
If you want to access your windows home computer when you are away from home, then there is no better way than with Remote Desktop. There is a problem, if you are using a home edition of XP or Vista then the server is not installed and is not available for you. The RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) server is only available on XP Professional, XP Media Center, Vista Business, and Vista Ultimate. If you want to remote control your windows home edition computer then you will need to use an alternate product, like RealVNC (more soon). You CAN however download the viewer software for the home editions for XP and I believe it’s already installed for Vista. XP also gives you the chance to host RDP so it is accessible by web-browser, this requires a little know-how and to have IIS (Internet Information Services) up and running on your box. I’m not running a Vista box right now, but in XP RDP is defaulted to off. To turn it on you:
- Right-click on the My Computer Icon
- Select Properties
- Click the Remote Tab
- Check the “Allow users …” box
- Add any users you want, although your main Admin account will already have access.
To access your local computer from the outside world you will need to know your IP address or setup a DynDNS account and will need to forward port 3389 to your local box.
The Remote Acces Toolkit has been added to the Toolkits page. I’ve listed a few programs that you might want to try. Look for further reviews of these in the future:
- RDP (Remote Desktop Protocol) – If the remote machine is running XP Pro, XP Media Center, or Vista Business or higher then you’ll have the RDP server available. You can log in remotely like a local user and it’s like your monitor is just really far away. If you don’t have these operating systems you’ll need a VNC program (these are slower)
- VNC (Virtual Network Computing) – Allows you to see and control a remote computer’s desktop on your local computer. There are several different flavors of VNC. I recommend RealVNC (free).
- FTP (File Transfer Protocol) – Share folders over the Internet and allow file transfer back and forth. I recommend Filezilla (free).
DynDNS has announced that it now has more than 2 million users, that’s a huge number but it’s no surprise. They provide a great service and have the delineation of their free and pay products set perfectly. DynDNS provides DNS services for individuals and small companies, allowing their users to have a hostname for any IP address that they are assigned even if that IP address isn’t static. With their free service you get an account and are allowed to pick a subdomain hostname from one of their domains. The company does a lot more that I won’t talk about, but here is a full list of services.
Let me clear this up a little with an example…