Remote Access to Your Computer

Access Your Home Computer via the Internet

Yes, and you can do more than just access your files. There are several tools that allow you full access and remote control of your computer over the Internet. If you have access to a computer with Internet access, you can log in to your home or office computer using a web browser.

You can view the desktop and use the mouse or keyboard to launch programs, open files or play a game. It's just as if you were sitting in front of the remote computer. If you're in the same room as the "remote" PC, you can watch the mouse cursor moving around on the screen, see new windows open and close, etc. Tres cool!

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I like and use the LogMeIn service because it's free and secure. There are extra features you can try that require a paid account, but the basic remote desktop service is really free. Once you get it set up, poke around in the options to learn how to automatically blank the host screen (so nobody can watch your activity) and lock the host console when you disconnect.

There's another very similar service, called GotoMyPC, but it costs US$20 per month to use. I was happily shelling out money each month for GotoMyPC, until I discovered LogMeIn! Symantec's pcAnywhere product offers remote desktop access, but costs about US$200 -- ouch! And if you have Windows XP Professional Edition, there's a feature called Remote Desktop which offers similar functionality. But the upgrade from XP Home to XP Pro costs about $100, so it may require some up-front investment, and I've heard that making it work can be a challenge even for experienced users.

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BOB RANKIN... is a tech writer and computer programmer who enjoys exploring the Internet and sharing the fruit of his experience with others. His work has appeared in ComputerWorld, NetGuide, and NY Newsday. Bob is publisher of the Internet TOURBUS newsletter, author of several computer books, and creator of the website. Visit Bob Rankin's website for more helpful articles and free tech support.

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