Getting Remote Assistance with Windows XP

Besides allowing you to enable the Remote Desktop feature, the Remote tab of the System applet also allows you to specify whether Remote Assistance invitations can be sent from your PC. Remote Assistance is the XP feature that allows another user to take control of your PC from their own XP system for the purpose of troubleshooting issues or providing you with support. In the world of Remote Assistance, a “novice” requests help from an “expert” by sending them an invitation (usually via email or MSN Messenger) that allows the expert to connect to and control the novice’s PC as if sitting in front of it. This feature is a lifesaver in cases where you can’t get your system working correctly and truly need the help of another user on your network, or even a distant user who can connect to your system via the Internet.

The configurable settings for Remote Assistance are fairly basic. A checkbox enables or disables the ability to send invitations from your PC, and the settings behind the Advanced button allow you to control whether other users are allowed to connect to your PC, and how long an invitation remains valid for. Customize these settings as per your preferences, but consider disabling the ability for other users to connect if you don’t plan on using the feature – it can present a security risk if control is granted to another user mistakenly.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.