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VNC, or Virtual Network Computing, is a protocol that allows a user to control their computer from afar using a VNC client.  VNC takes a bit of time and effort to set up, but when done correctly this setup can provide an easy, efficient, and secure way to access your home or work desktop while on the go.

This demonstration is going to use RealVNC Free Edition.  There are a number of other VNC server products available, such as TightVNC and UltraVNC.  However, the setup of these products will be very similar to the setup of RealVNC.

  • The first step in configuring RealVNC would be to download the program from the official RealVNC website.
  • Once you have downloaded and executed the setup file, you will want to accept the default options, ensuring that you are doing a “full” installation with the server component selected.
  • You will also want to ensure that RealVNC is configured in “service mode”.  This will essentially allow the program to start with Windows, and to become more integrated into the system.  Again, this is important because you will want to ensure that your remote desktop program is always running, and that you always have access to your computer.
  • Once installation has finished, you will be presented with the options dialog.  The most important thing you will need to change will be the security.  Select the “VNC password authentication” option, and click the “Configure” button to enter your password.
  • Apply the security settings, and click the finish button to close the installation dialog.

Once you have RealVNC configured, you will need to make this accessible from outside of your network.  The first thing you want to do is ensure that your local IP (e.g. 192.168.1.5, 10.0.0.5, etc.) is set to never change.  In Windows, this is a relatively simple configuration.

  • In Windows XP, use Control Panel > Network Connections, and right click on your connection (usually “Local Area Connection”) and select “Properties”
  • In Windows Vista and 7, you will need to open the “Network and Sharing Center” (available by default in your system tray), and select your current connection.
  • Once you have accessed the properties for your network connection, select “Properties”, and select the TCP/IP protocol, and select its properties.  This will leave you with a dialog to configure your local IP address.
  • Your IP address should be in the same range as your routers.  For example, if your router’s IP address was 192.168.1.1, an acceptable IP address for your computer would be 192.168.1.75.  It is good practice to ensure that the last part of the IP is far enough away from the other IP’s on your network, as not to have any IP conflicts down the road.
  • Once you have entered your desired IP, your subnet mask will automatically be calculated, and you will need to enter your router’s IP in the “Default Gateway” and “Preferred DNS Server” fields.

Once you have RealVNC configured and your internal IP set, you need to configure your router so that the VNC server you have set up is accessible from outside your network.  This step varies from router to router depending on the manufacturer, but always involves logging into the web-based control panel and configuring port forwarding.  The following steps and included screenshots may be a bit different based on your router.

  • Log into your router’s control panel by entering it’s IP (usually 192.168.1.1 by default) into the address bar of your preferred web browser.  The username and password should have been set during router setup.
  • Find the configuration page for port forwarding.
  • Add a new service to your port forwarding table, using port 5900 (the default port for VNC) as both the starting port and the ending port, and ensuring that the IP that the traffic is being forwarded to is the same IP that you configured in the previous step.
  • Apply your changes.  Please note that this may cause your router to restart.

Now you are able to use a VNC client to connect to your home computer by entering your external IP address (assigned by your ISP and viewable by using WhatIsMyIP.com) and entering your password.  However, there is one issue; most ISP’s issue dynamic IPs.  This means that your external IP (not to be confused with the internal one you set earlier) changes every so often.  Further, this would mean that you could potentially loose access to your VNC setup at any given time.  The way to work around this would be to set up a dynamic-DNS service.

  • First, you will need to register an account with a dynamic DNS provider such as DynDNS.  This process involves choosing a sub-domain which will be configured to point to your IP address; even when it changes.
  • Once you have your account, you need to either configure your router, or download a special “updater utility” from your provider’s website.  Most routers have a dynamic DNS updating utility built in, and you simply need to enter your given sub-domain and credentials.  Your provider should have more information as to configuring your router or their given client for updating.

Now, with all of your configurations done, simply entering your DynDNS sub domain (e.g. mysubdomain.dyndns.info) into your VNC client should bring you to the login screen and ultimately allow you to remote control your computer.

If you find that you made an error or cannot get the setup to work, feel free to post your questions on the forums or in chat.  You may also consider using a “zero configuration” remote desktop solution such as LogMeIn or TeamViewer.


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