If you have a copy of
Windows XP Professional installed on your home computer, you are already
set up to do some serious remote computing. XP Pro includes the Remote Desktop
server software, essentially a single-user version of Microsoft's terminal services technology which can
allow you to use your computer from any internet connected computer running Windows 95
Desktop allows a single user to login remotely using the same username and
password that he or she would use sitting at the computer.
The desktop of the computer, with access to all drives and
files, is then remotely accessible over an Internet link between the two computers. By virtue
of using the XP/2000 username and password login system, Remote Desktop is generally
more secure than VNC, assuming that secure passwords are set on all accounts with
Depending on the operating system you are using on
the client computer (the one you're sitting at), you will have a range of
other options besides simply manipulating the files on the remote desktop.
If you are using Windows 9x/ME desktops, you will have access
to the desktop and all files on the remote computer. Hence you will be able
to run programs to edit files (for example, you could open a document
on the remote computer with Word, also installed on the remote computer, and edit
What you cannot do, unfortunately, is exchange files between your
client computer and the remote computer. To access these features, Remote
Desktop requires a client using Windows XP or 2000. With an XP client, the
drives on the client machine will become available as network shares on the
remote machine (see pic), allowing you to drag and drop files to transfer them
You can also cut and paste files and information inside files between
the two computers, since the clipboard memory is shared. It should be noted
that file transfer can be very, very slow using remote desktop due
to the overhead of the connection. It's best used as an
occasional means of transferring small files, rather than a way to remotely copy large
amounts of data.
If you need
to transfer data between computers, FTP is much more efficient than remote desktop at
accomplishing that task.
In addition to the ability to copy files,
an XP client computer allows documents on the remote computer to be printed
directly to a printer attached to the client computer. When the remote desktop
session is established, the relevant drivers for local printers are installed on
the remote computer, enabling printing. WindowsXP clients also allow audio transfer
between the two computers, so sound played on the remote computer can be heard
on the client.