Remotely Accessing Your Home Computer

by: John V. W. Howe

Windows XP operating system contains the software needed to remotely access your home computer from any Internet connection. This is a powerful tool when you are traveling and need to have full access to your home computer to keep your business running efficiently

If you are going to be an online entrepreneur, you always need to have access to your computer when you are away from home. Some people use laptops for home and travel, but many prefer to have use a desktop or tower model PC.

When we retire and are using the Internet for our retirement job, it is very important that we can access the Internet since working on the Internet is our life blood. There are several software packages on the market that will enable you to access your computer as though you were sitting in front of your own monitor. Some of the better known ones are and costs $49.95 for the initial setup and between $18.95 and $24.95 per month depending on the plan you choose. has a limited feature free version which you might investigate. The full version costs $12.95 per month for a single PC.

The great news is that Microsoft has created a package that is included in the XP Windows operating system. It can also be downloaded from the XP System CD to other operating systems. This will allow the computer to access the remote computer. This software uses the Terminal Server package which only transmits mouse, keyboard, and display information so it is fairly effective over a slow bandwidth connection.

You can install this on your home computer and access the home computer from a laptop that you might carry or from any Internet connection when you are on the road.

My road laptop is running Windows 2000 Professional so I loaded the software on it from my Windows XP system disk and it works very well. When you are traveling, you will be able to use any computer running Windows XP if the Remote Desktop software is installed on it. Most of the hotel business centers and Internet cafes have this set up. All you will need is the IP address of your home computer.

If you want to set this up, click the Start button and select Help and Support. Search on "remote desktop". You will get the information that you need to set up the connection. NOTE: You need a fixed IP address to which to connect. Some Internet Service Providers (ISP’s) do not assign a fixed IP, but rather give you a variable IP address. Most will issue you a fixed IP address for a one time fee or for an additional monthly fee. My fixed IP address cost a one time fee of $25. You need the fixed IP so you can always connect to the same address when the connection is configured. Check with your IP to see what your situation is.

If you have a firewall/router on your system and have a home network, you will also need to make your own computer IP address fixed within your network. This is done by clicking Start/Control Panel/Network Connections. Right click on the icon of the connection that takes you to the Internet and select Properties. In the scroll down window, highlight Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) and click the properties button below the scroll down window. Click the radio button. "Use the Following IP Address". Enter the IP address to be assigned to the computer. Most computers on Windows are in the 192.168.1.NNN number range. Usually, the lower numbers are assigned first by the software so skip to 101 for the rightmost address in the IP string ( The subnet mask is The default gateway is usually Leave the DNS server information alone. Click OK twice. Now try to access the Internet to make certain that nothing has been changed that will prevent you from operating your computer. If you cannot access the Internet, go back through the process above and turn on the radio button that says "Obtain an IP Address Automatically" and it will reset back to your old processes. At that point, I suggest you use your software support guru to help you do the job.

If you have a router, you will need to direct the input from port 3389 to your fixed IP address ( This is done by logging onto your router and setting up the port routing settings. This is not as difficult as it sounds. Read the router instructions and you can do it. As a precaution, write down the router settings before you change them so you can reset to the original values if something does not work properly.

To log on, go to Start/Programs/Accessories/Communications/Remote Desktop Connection. Enter your Internet IP address in the box and click Connect. If all is well, you should see the logon box for your user and password. Caution: If you have someone sharing your computer at home, warn them that the display may suddenly show the login screen. When you are on the remote connection, no one can use the home computer until you finish.

Sometimes we are careless about passwords on our home computers. Since you will be accessing your computer over the Internet, create a strong password for your login. Make it at least eight characters long and make it a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.

When you log in, your job will be a window on the computer you are using for the access. There is a job bar at the top of the screen of the remote software. It has the IP address of the computer being accessed and the standard Windows Minimize, Reduce, and Close. While you are working on the computer, you can minimize the remote window and work locally and the connection will remain active. This will allow you to look up data on your home computer, copy it to the clipboard, minimize the remote window, and paste the information into an application running on the local computer.

I have used this feature for over six months now and it has worked very well for me.

One other consideration is to make certain that your home computer does not shut down while you are away. If a family member is there to restart it if you call and ask for help, this is not a problem, but if you are on vacation and no one is there to help, you have a problem.

Purchase a UPS (not the brown truck) but an uninterruptible power supply and install it on your computer. This will keep your computer running if there is a short power outage. There are bargains on good refurbished UPS units on the Internet. Buy one large enough to keep your computer running for twenty to thirty minutes if your power fails. Most of the time the power will be restored in less time than that.

Try it and see how it works. Good computing.