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Accessing your computer from afar

Question : Assuming I have an Internet connection on my notebook and my desktop PC at home, is there any way that I access files on my home computer when I'm away?

Answer : Absolutely. There are a couple of ways you can do this.

If you do not foresee having to transfer lots of files from your home PC, you can set up Windows XP's Remote Desktop feature before you leave. Remote Desktop is available on Windows XP Pro edition. With Remote Desktop configured properly on both the host computer (your home machine) and the client (your notebook), you can use your home desktop machine from afar, accessing the resources on the machine as though you were sitting in front of it. To set up Remote Desktop, follow Microsoft's online instructions.

The important thing to note about Remote Desktop is that the machine that acts as the host should have what is known as a 'static IP' address assigned to it. An IP address is a numerical value that identifies each computer on the Internet. A static IP is important because if your machine is connected to the Internet through a DSL or cable modem, the machine's IP address may change unless you define it - make it 'static' - yourself. If the IP address changes, the Remote Desktop feature will not work.

The steps for setting up a static IP address are fairly lengthy but clearly and thoroughly explained at Port Forwarding's 'How to set up a static IP' page (http://www.portforward.com/networking/static-xp.htm). Setting up a static IP is often poorly explained, so it's a good idea to copy these directions into a document and save them, since you never know on the Internet when some site might change or be taken down.


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