How can I access my home computer from work or school?

Below is a listing of some of the more popular methods of remotely connecting to another computer for remote access or assistance. First, is a listing of online services, these are services that allow anyone with an Internet browser to remotely access and connect to another computer. Next, is a listing of software programs that are used to connect and remotely access other computers. Finally, at the end of the document you can find additional information about resolving problems you may encounter that prevent you from using one of the below services.

Online services
Software programs
Potential problems

Online services

TeamviewerTeamViewer - http://www.teamviewer.com/

LogMeIn - http://www.logmein.com/

A great free service that allows you to remotely connect to another computer using your Internet browser. After installing a small program onto the computer the program allows you to remotely connect to another computer and open remote files, check your email, run programs, and support remote users.

GoToMyPC - https://www.gotomypc.com/

WebEx PCNow - http://pcnow.webex.com/

Each of the above programs are other great online service that allows you to connect to remotely connect to another computer and open remote files, check your email, run programs, or support remote users. These programs have a free trial and if you like requires a monthly/annual fee.

Software Programs

Tip: If your work or school prohibits information from being installed onto the computer you can install many of these programs on a USB thumb drive instead of from the computer.

TightVNC - http://www.tightvnc.com/

A fantastic free and open source program that is derived from the popular VNC program that allows you to remotely connect to another computer and control it. The program supports multiple platforms including Microsoft Windows, MacOS, Linux, and Unix. In addition has the ability to transfer files between computers.

RealVNC - http://www.realvnc.com/

The original VNC program that allows users to remotely connect to other computers running VNC. RealVNC has three different versions. The free version that supports the standard connection and the Professional and Enterprise editions that support additional features such as 2048-bit AES session encryption, One-port HTTP & VNC, file transfer, desktop scaling, Windows authentication, and more.

Symantec pcAnywhere

One of the most popular commercial software programs that allow a user running a Microsoft Windows, MacOS, Linux operating system to connect to another computer that has the same software program installed onto it.

Laplink Everywhere - http://www.laplink.com/lle/

A great software program that allows users to remotely access Microsoft Windows computers without hassling with firewalls, has three different modes of connection, high security, and much more.

Windows XP Professional

Users who have Windows XP Professional installed on their computers can also use the Windows XP Professional Remote Desktop option to remotely access their computer. Additional information about how to do this can be found here.

Potential problems and additional information

Below is additional information about potential problems you may encounter when using any of the above solutions.

  1. Firewall - Any firewall protecting your home, work, or school network must be open for many of these software programs or services to communicate with other computers. If you have a software firewall program running on your computer you must unblock or open the port for the program when prompted. Some schools and corporations have a hardware firewall that will block almost all outside Internet traffic making it difficult if not impossible for many of these solutions to work.
  2. Static IP vs. Dynamic IP - Many of the programs will require you to specify the IP address of your computer. If you do not have a static IP address this address will change each time you connect to the Internet. This can make it difficult to connect if your computer is consistently changing its IP address.
  3. Modem vs. always on connection - If your home computer is connecting to the Internet using a Modem instead of an always on connection such as a broadband connection you must keep your modem connected in order to connect to the computer.
  4. Plug-ins and additional software - Many of the online services that allow you to remotely connect to another computer over your browser will require that a plug-in be installed into the browser or a third-party program be installed. Some work and school computers may prohibit you from doing this.
  5. Computer must be on - Finally, the computer you want to connect to must remain powered on.

Additional information

  • See our remote access definition for further information and related links on this term.