How to Remote Control Your PC for Free

So you want to access and remote control your home computer from work, or anywhere else for that matter? Forget GoToMyPC or any other purchased software. I've been doing this for 5 years with nothing but free software. This article explains how simple this is to do, in 4 easy steps.

These steps involve downloading and installing 2 pieces of free software. This is a Windows tutorial by the way, but the same thing can be accomplished in Linux with the equivalent software. If you have a router, you might only need one piece of software. Here are the steps:

  1. Download and install VNC (Virtual Network Computing). I recommend TightVNC, it's free, lightgweight, provides great compression, and the newest version allows for file transfers as well.
  2. In the new [Tight]VNC start menu group, click Administration > Install VNC Service. Then click Administration > Show default settings. Create a good strong password. You may also want to change the default port numbers (5900 and 5800) for additional security. You can set these to any open ports you want, but just remember the port numbers for the next step.
  3. Open those two ports in your firewall (software and/or hardware). If you have a router, you'll need to forward the ports to the machine you want to control. You may need to set a static IP for this. If you do not yet have a firewall, get one!
  4. Sign up for a free dynamic IP forwarding service. I've use both dyndns.org and no-ip.com, they're both good. You will need to download their client application, but many new routers have these tools built right into them; you just have to specify your username and password. What this service means is that you choose a domain name (e.g. yourname.dyndns.org), and each time you connect to your ISP the client updates that domain with your current IP address.
  5. Connect to your machine and control it by entering your dynamic address in a web browser. Example: http://yourname.dyndns.org:5800. Notice the port number appended to the end. If you changed it in the VNC settings, make sure you change it here. Optional: download and install the VNC client on your work machine or any other machine. This will give you more connection options, and better flexibility.

Well, that's all there is to it. If you follow these easy steps, you'll save yourself the cost of GoToMyPC or any other paid service. Also, once you get comfortable with VNC, you can experiment. For example, I use it at work to run on my test server, for which I don't have a monitor. I just connect from my laptop, and it's like I'm using the server right there. Let me know if you have any difficulties with this tutorial!


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