Remote Desktop Connection Alternatives

If you’re looking to interact with an office desktop system remotely, Windows XP Professional systems provide a solution known as Remote Desktop, which is covered in the boxout below. Other Windows OSes don’t provide this capability, but all is not lost. One exceptional (and free) piece of software that will allow you to remotely connect to and control your desktop is Virtual Network Computing, or VNC. When VNC software is installed on your office desktop system, you can use either the VNC client software or a web browser to connect to your desktop remotely.

VNC is available for versions of Windows from 95 forward at The installation is both basic and straightforward, and once installed, the VNC viewer software (which can fit on a floppy disk) can be used to connect to your desktop remotely over the Internet. Better still, use the Java capabilities of the software to connect via a Web browser.
For example, let’s say that you have installed VNC on your office PC running Windows 2000 Professional. To connect to this system remotely over the Internet, you would open Internet Explorer, and type the IP address of your office system, followed by the port number 5801. In this example, the complete address might be something like, but with the public IP address allocated by your ISP provided. This method of connecting will require you to supply a password (configured in VNC) to connect, after which you can interact with your desktop through the web browser, as shown below. For a higher degree of security, use VNC in conjunction with a VPN connection if your operating system supports incoming VPN connections. Using this method, you would first connect to the VPN, and then access VNC using the private IP address of the VNC system. This ensures that all communication between your remote client and VNC server is encrypted.

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.