Talking tech since 2003

Remotely accessing your computer and the files on it is by no stretch of the imagination a new concept.  Remote desktop and screen sharing protocols have been around practically since the beginning of the internet.  With broadband internet becoming more and more wide-spread, accessing one’s own computer – even when on the other side of the world – is a realistic idea.  Some believe that setting up a remote desktop solution is a difficult task; configuring a program, forwarding ports, etc.

However, the development and spread of zero-configuration remote desktop solutions makes this once complex task into a relatively simple process.  This article will go over a few different remote desktop options, and explain how to set them up and use them.

The first solution we are going to cover is LogMeIn.  LogMeIn has both free and paid editions; the pro versions allow for things such as file transfer and remote printing, while the free version is limited to remote desktop (seeing the screen, manipulating the mouse and keyboard, etc).

  • The first step for setting up LogMeIn would be to head over to their signup page, and register an account.  This account will be your gateway into accessing the remote desktop interface at a later time.
  • Once you have completed your account registration, the first screen you will be presented with will be the “Get Started Now” screen.  At this screen, you will be presented to download the software to your computer.
  • Once you have downloaded and launched the setup client, you will be presented with the setup screen.
  • For the most part, the default settings should be acceptable.  You may however find it necessary to change the computer’s description to how you would like it shown.
  • Once you have completed the setup, you should be up and running; no ports to forward or anything.

To access your computer through LogMeIn (your computer will need to remain powered on), you’ll need to go to, sign in, and select “Remote Control” under your computer’s name.

Be sure to also check out Jeff’s recent review of LogMeIn Ignition for the iPhone.

The second solution we are going to cover is TeamViewer.  TeamViewer is well known for being an excellent aid in providing remote tech support to friends and colleagues from a distance.  However, TeamViewer can also be configured to act as a stand-alone remote desktop solution.  Like LogMeIn, TeamViewer will not require you to configure any port forwarding within your router, and will be relatively simple to set up.

  • The first step to configuring TeamViewer will be going to their website, and downloading their client.  Be sure to select “Start Full Version” when downloading.
  • Once you have downloaded and launched the installer, you will need to select the option to install the program, as apposed to simply just running it.
  • You will need to state that you will only use TeamViewer for personal use (using for commercial use will require a license), and accept the license agreement.
  • The next step will be to tell TeamViewer to start automatically with Windows, and to give it the password that you will later use to connect.
  • It is recommended that you use the “Full access” mode, as that will allow you to remotely control your computer without having to be present at the host computer to accept the connection.
  • After you have successfully installed TeamViewer, you will want to start it from the Start menu, and select the option to configure for permanent access.
  • In the dialog window that appears, you will want to assign your permanent password, and ensure that the “Start TeamViewer with Windows” button is checked.
  • Once you have completed this step, a confirmation box will pop up, displaying a computer ID number.  It is suggested that you write this down, along with your assigned password.

Like with LogMeIn, you will need to leave your computer (along with the TeamViewer application) running at all times in order to be able to access it.  To do this, you will want to go to the TeamViewer website, and run the “Join a Session” application.  From here, you will want to enter the computer ID you were given during setup, and press “Connect to partner”.

At this point, you will be presented with the password dialog, and will then be connected to your computer.

It is important to ensure that you have permission from the computer owner (e.g. your company, school, etc.) before installing a remote desktop solution onto your workstation.  Some companies and organizations have policies against this type of software, and others may already have a remote access system in place for you and ready to use.  It’s also important to note that LogMeIn and TeamViewer are not the only remote access solutions on the market; there are several others available such as GoToMyPC.  However, LogMeIn and TeamViewer are arguably the most popular remote access solutions out there, and both have a free version available for private (non-commercial) use.

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