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Remote Desktop Connection in Windows XP


									Set Up Remote Desktop Web
Connection with Windows XP                                            Related Links
Editor's Note: Past articles by members of the online community are
archived for your use. The information may become outdated as         • Ask questions or discuss this
technology changes. For the most current information, please            topic in the Windows XP
                                                                        Expert Zone Newsgroups
search the Web site or post a question in the newsgroups.
You don't have to carry a laptop to have your computer available
wherever you go, because Windows XP Professional includes             • Windows XP Working
                                                                        Remotely Newsgroup
Remote Desktop. Remote Desktop gives you complete control over
your computer from across a network and over the Internet.            • Remote Desktop Web
However, Remote Desktop requires software to be installed on the        Connection Overview
system you're connecting from. Unfortunately, it's often impossible
to install the software on a system, such as when you're at an        • About Remote Desktop Web
Internet café, a friend's house, or using a client's computer.          Connection
The solution is to use Remote Desktop Web Connection, which loads
the Remote Desktop client within a browser. The Remote Desktop        • Microsoft Update
Web Connection is a perfect solution for connecting to your home or
office PC when you can't install the Remote Desktop client software   • How to Manually Open Ports in
                                                                        Internet Connection Firewall in
on a computer. By pointing a browser that supports ActiveX controls
                                                                        Windows XP
at a host computer running Windows XP Professional, you can
access your remote desktop over the Internet.
                                                                      • Expert Zone Column: Remote
Get Your Host Computer Ready                                            Desktop Web Connection
The Remote Desktop feature is only available in Windows XP
Professional. It's not included with Windows XP Home Edition. For           • Dynamic DNS Resources
more information about how Remote Desktop Web Connection
works, see About Remote Desktop Web Connection.
The first step in enabling Remote Desktop Web Connection is to
install the necessary software on the host computer. Remote Desktop Web Connection is an optional
World Wide Web Service component of Internet Information Services (IIS), which is included by
default in Windows XP Professional. IIS responds to requests from a Web browser. Have your
Windows XP Professional CD handy, and follow these steps:
1. Open Control Panel click Add or Remove Programs, and then click Add/Remove Windows
2. Click Internet Information Services, and then click Details.
3. In the Subcomponents of Internet Information Services list, click World Wide Web Service,
     and then click Details.
4. In the Subcomponents of World Wide Web Service list, select the Remote Desktop Web
     Connection check box, and then clickOK.
5. In the Windows Components Wizard, click Next. Click Finish when the wizard has
6. Click the Start button and click Run. Type Net Stop w3svc, and click OK. This temporarily
     stops the World Wide Web service to keep your system safe while you update it with security
Enabling IIS without installing the appropriate security patches can make your system vulnerable to
intruders. For more information, readMicrosoft Security Bulletin MS01-018 and Security and Privacy
for Home Users.
To check for updates:
1. Click Start, point to All Programs, click Microsoft Update, and then click Scan for updates.
     Follow the prompts to install all critical updates. If prompted, restart your computer.
2. Click Start, and then click Run. Type Net Start w3svc, and click OK. This starts the World
     Wide Web service.
I highly recommend using Automatic Updates, especially after installing Internet Information
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Configure Internet Information Services
By default, IIS is identified on your computer by the TCP port number 80. The steps in this section
change the TCP port number and make it much more difficult for a potential attacker to
communicate with your computer. The steps in this section are optional, but if you do follow them,
you'll dramatically improve the security of your system. If you are already using your computer as a
Web server, you should leave the TCP port number at the default setting of 80.
1. Open Control Panel, click Performance and Maintenance, and then click Administrative
    Tools. Double-click Internet Information Services.
2. In the ISS snap-in, expand your computer name, expand Web Sites, right-click Default Web
    Site, and then click Properties.
3. On the Web Site tab, change the value for TCP Port. Enter a number between 1000 and
    65535 that you can remember easily, such as the month and day of a birthday or anniversary.
    You'll need to know the TCP Port when you connect to the computer in the future.
4. Click OK, and close the Internet Information Services snap-in.
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Configure Remote Desktop
To connect using Remote Desktop, you must have a user account with a password. If you don't yet
have a password on your account, create a password by opening Control Panel, and clicking User
Accounts. Click your account, click Create a password, and follow the prompts. After you have a
password, follow these steps to enable Remote Desktop:
1. Right-click My Computer, and click Properties.
2. On the Remote tab, click the Allow users to connect remotely to this computer check box,
    as shown in Figure 1.

     Figure 1: Enabling remote desktop
3.   Click Select Remote Users, and then click Add.
4.   In the Select Users dialog box, type the name of the user and then click OK. Click OK again to
     return to the System Propertiesdialog box, and then click OK to close it.
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Configure Your Router
If you use a router to connect to the Internet, you probably need to configure it to allow the Remote
Desktop connection to your computer. For more information on routers and firewalls, see
my Internet Firewalls column. You need to forward two ports to your Windows XP Professional-
based computer: TCP port 3389, which Remote Desktop requires, and the port you specified in
the TCP Portfield in Internet Information Services (or TCP port 80 if you did not change the
default). If you use Internet Connection Firewall (and you should!), see How to Manually Open Ports
in Internet Connection Firewall in Windows XP for instructions on allowing traffic by TCP port.
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Connect to Your Desktop
Computers are identified on the Internet using a unique IP address. To connect to your home
computer from the Internet, you'll need to know your home IP address. Visit one of these
sites from your home computer to learn your IP address: What Is My IP, What Is My,
or Atlantic PC Solutions. Your IP address may change occasionally, so always check your IP address
before you plan to connect. When you're ready to connect to your host computer, follow these
1. Open Internet Explorer, and enter the URL http://ipaddress:port/tsweb/. For example, if your IP
     address is, and you chose the TCP Port 1374, you would enter the URL
2. If you're prompted to install the Remote Desktop ActiveX control, click Yes.
3. On the Remote Desktop Web Connection page, shown in Figure 2, click Connect. You don't
     need to fill in the Server field. If you leave the Size field set to Full-screen, the remote
     desktop will take over your local desktop.

     Figure 2: Remote Desktop Web Connection page
4.   Enter your user name and password at the Windows logon prompt, as shown in Figure 3, and
     then click OK. You'll see your desktop, complete with any windows that were left open the last
     time you used the computer.
   Figure 3: The Remote Desktop Web Connection logon screen
When you're done, disconnect by closing the browser, or clicking the X at the top of the screen in
full-screen mode. Be sure to close all browser windows. Your user name and password aren't
stored, so you don't have to worry about someone else accessing your system.
If you're Internet-savvy and plan to connect to your home computer regularly, you can get a
domain name to save yourself the trouble of writing down your IP address every time you plan to
connect to your computer. You're already familiar with domain names; they're the ".com" names
Web sites use to identify themselves. For example, the domain name for this Web site is If you have your own domain name, you can enter that into a browser to connect to
your home computer, instead of the unfriendly IP address. For information on getting your own
domain name and associating it with your home computer, visit the Dynamic DNS Providers List.
If you have Windows XP Professional and an always-on Internet connection, you can securely access
your applications and data from work, an Internet café, or any place that has a compatible Web
browser. Getting Remote Desktop Web Connection set up takes more than one click, but it's
definitely easier than lugging your computer everywhere.
Expert Zone columnist Tony Northrup is an Internet engineer, a part-time photographer, and author
of dozens of books and articles. He writes to help people safely use the Internet to communicate,
share, and learn.

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